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Sanditon

Sanditon by Jane Austen and Another Lady was first published in 1975.

I’ve read plenty of prequels, sequels and continuations, but I haven’t really liked any of them. I was pleasantly surprised with this version of Sanditon. I didn’t even pick the join!

It begins with an accident. A carriage is overturned. Mr and Mrs Parker are trying to find a surgeon to employ at Sanditon. Mr Heywood comes to their rescue and in return they take his eldest daughter Charlotte back with them for a holiday. Charlotte  meets the polite society of Sanditon. There is the ‘great lady of the neighbourhood’ Lady Denham. Wealthy, but poorly educated. Her ward the poor, but beautiful Clara Brereton. Sir Edward and Miss Denham. Sir Edward is both a rake and a rattle. He reads too much and thinks too little. And there are the remaining Parkers – Susan, Diana and Arthur (all hypochondriacs – Susan has three (!) teeth pulled because she beliwves her ill-health is due to a problem in her gum) and the lively and charming Sidney. Add to this mix the sickly, but wealthy Miss Lambe and the social climbing Miss Beauforts and we have an interesting mix of characters.

The fragment (11 chapters) collects the characters, but ‘another lady’ (AKA Marie Dobbs) is left to tell the story.  There are many social engagements – sea bathing, drinking tea, collecting sea weed, a day trip to Brinshaw and lots of walking. Henry Brudenall (Sidney’s heart broken friend) needs to be distracted. We understand that the woman he loves is marrying another.  Clara Brereton seems to be planning an elopment and Sir Edward a seduction. Throughout it all Charlotte is falling in love with Sidney and we think Sidney is falling in love with her but he has many different irons in the fire and it’s hard to know what his real feelings are. I must admit I thought the ending was melodramatic, but I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Her style of writing is as good an estimation of Austen as I have read – in fact one bit seemed to be taken from Catherine of the Bower

…for which no one was more calculated than Stanley, who was so far from being really of any party that he had scarcely a fixed opinion on the subject. He could always therefore take either side, and always argue with temper.

and from Sanditon

No one was more calculated to shine in such a conversation than Sidney, who was so far from having any fixed opinion that he could alter it whenever he chose, sometimes agreeing and sometimes dissenting, according to whichever view he decided would provide most entertainment for the moment. He could, therefore always take either side and always argue with temper.

I recommend this book. If you have read the other novels and you want more, then try reading Sanditon completed by another lady.

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