Just finished up chapter thirty in Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and I am loving it. At this point there is a steampunk feel to it with the Miss Dashwoods visiting with Mrs. Jenkins in Sub-Marine Station Beta. The rich description of Sub-Marine Station Beta and its construction stand out without taking away from the story at all, which just seems to enrich it all together.
I like the description of the Float-Suits worn while at Sub-Marine Station Beta. I question the actual ability of the suit to provide the emergency protection it is said to provide the way I question an airplane cushion’s ability to act as a flotation device in the event of a water landing, but the idea of it is fun to imagine. Trying to picture how it fits into the fashion conscious minds of the gentry is made further amusing by Marianne’s attempt to remove the nose reed when she anticipates a meeting with Willoughby only to be scolded by Elinor who obviously stresses the importance of proper protective gear.
Then there is the whole Sub-Marine Station Beta thing–Beta not Alpha. Where is Sub-Marine Station Alpha? Or rather what happened to it? Well by the end of chapter thirty there is only one mention of Sub-Marine Station Alpha. It is not very detailed, however, it does provide a definitive answer regarding its existence.
“The suits were cumbersome, to be sure, but they were required by law at all times in Sub-Marine Station Beta–most wisely, considering what happened to Sub-Marine Station Alpha.” pp150
I sneaked ahead into chapter thirty-one and the end of the second paragraph has another mention of Sub-Marine Station Alpha, which is just as illusory.
“Marianne expressed her wish for the very lid of Sub-Station Beta to open and all the world to be drowned–which earned the stern condemnation of Elinor, who reminded her that such a possibility was not to be taken lightly, considering the tragic fate of Sub-Station Alpha!” pp185
This of course feeds my desire to understand extraneous details in any story. When it comes to the story of Sense and Sensibility as written by Jane Austen I love the focus on the characters and the relationships between them. They are rich and well crafted while being based in realistic interactions of their time. Even now I can imagine women I know behaving much as do the women within the novel. However, I am finding the extra layer that Winters has added to be an intriguing alternate world to consider. It almost puts one in the mood for a Jules Verne novel.
I’m hoping to tease out more about Sub-Marine Station Alpha, though it is not the most important information to uncover. It is just an added bonus to my mounting curiosity for the unfolding of events. I mean, what is to become of Margaret? How will Marianne come around to appreciating the merits of the Davy Jones-esque Colonel Brandon? What is going on with Pestilence Island? And what is the meaning of the symbol that plagues Elinor’s dreams and is somehow affixed to Lucy’s back like a tramp stamp?
What are your thoughts on the steampunk comparison? What are you enjoying or not about things so far?
*Photo: Coral reef, Shark Island lagoon, French Frigate Shoals by USFWS Pacific, obtained through Flickr.