Publisher and Publication Date: Grand Central Publishing. December 10, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Austenesque.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Jane Austen readers.
Rating: Very good.
Based on Andrew Davies’ tv adaption/continuation of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel written in 1817.
As seen on Masterpiece PBS, premiered January 12, 2020.
The foreword is written by Andrew Davies. He is a Welsh author of screenplays and books. He has adapted several books to film. For example: Pride and Prejudice (1995), Vanity Fair (1998), and War and Peace (2016), Sanditon (2020).
Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist from England. Her first job was as an
editorial assistant at the Guardian newspaper, followed by a stint as deputy editor
for the lifestyle section of London bible, Time Out magazine. There she had
assignments that saw her racing reindeers in Lapland, going undercover in
London’s premier department store and gleaning writing tips (none-too subtly)
during interviews with some of her favorite authors. After becoming a freelancer,
she left London behind and moved to the beautiful Cotswolds in order to write her
In the vein of Downton Abbey, Jane Austen’s beloved but unfinished
masterpiece-often considered her most modern and exciting novel-gets a
spectacular second act in this tie-in to a major new limited television series.
Written only months before Austen’s death in 1817, Sanditon tells the story of the
joyously impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her spiky
relationship with the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!) Sidney Parker.
When a chance accident transports her from her rural hometown of Willingden to
the would-be coastal resort of the eponymous title, it exposes Charlotte to the
intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the make, and the characters
whose fortunes depend on its commercial success. The twists and turns of the
plot, which takes viewers from the West Indies to the rotting alleys of London,
exposes the hidden agendas of each character and sees Charlotte discover
herself… and ultimately find love.
I first want to say how excited I am to be apart of the book tour for Sanditon. I enjoyed reading the book, rereading (multiple times) the original chapters Jane Austen wrote, The World of Sanditon by Sara Sheridan, and watching the PBS Masterpiece series Sanditon.
The original writing of Sanditon by Jane Austen is twelve chapters. She began writing in January 1817, and stopped writing March 18, 1817. She died July 18, 1817. The manuscript she wrote was not only unfinished, but had not shown enough material to understand the full direction she intended the story to take. It is a guess. She was sick during the writing. Health is a theme in the original manuscript. The book presents Austen’s first character of another race. She is described in the original writing as a West Indian heiress in poor health. The story shows a modern attitude that previous writings did not. However, Jane Austen did not finish the story, and it’s only a guess about how we think the book would progress and end.
I consider the original writing of Jane Austen’s Sanditon, as an outline for the tv adaption and book. In the book by Kate Riordan, it does not follow the exact manuscript of Austen’s. Austen’s has been used as an outline. And this current book is an adaption. I was constantly aware during the reading of the current book of the differences between what had been written by Austen and the changes in the new book. I had to finally place that developing attitude aside and enjoy the adaption.
The story begins in 1819. The main character is Charlotte Heywood. She is the oldest child in a large family. She is in her late teens. They are country people. Charlotte is a personality that I cherish. She is responsible, kind, quick to help others, observant, and a bit restless for adventure. A chance encounter gives her an opportunity to leave the home and area she’d known, and experience another type of life. Through her eyes, I too experienced the adventure. She has another character trait: speaking her mind. At times, this causes people to be offended. But, I believe this makes her well-rounded, imperfect, and believable. Characters shouldn’t be too perfect!
Other characters have sharp contrasts to the likable Charlotte. They are the wealthy Lady Denham. She also speaks her mind. Clara Brereton and Sir Edward Denham. Both of them are calculating.
Other characters like the Parker family are the benefactor of Charlotte’s travel and lodging during her visit to Sanditon. Sidney Parker is the person who Charlotte either likes or dislikes depending on their conversations. He perplexes her.
Georgiana Lambe is the wealthy West Indian heiress. She is another favorite character.
Primarily because she seems sad and I want her to be happy.
The story is strong in characters that leap off the pages and that is a plus for me.
I especially enjoyed reading the thoughts behind the characters that the tv adaption does not reveal.
I love the developing story that showed me the plight of several characters. Health is not a big plot like in the original Austen manuscript. Money and status is a big theme.
The conflicts in the story are conflicts that people of any era relate. For example, betrayal and ambition.
The book ends with the wish (on my part) for more of the story.