By Jane Austen, Kate Riordan
Author Website: janeausten(.)org, kateriordan(.)com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Caro
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. (Goodreads)
Charlotte Heywood is the eldest daughter of the Heywood family. She is very outspoken and has an adventurous spirit. When Tom Parker and his wife Mary are in need of help, the Heywood family is there to offer a hand. The Parkers live in the coastal town of Sanditon, where Tom has great plans of turning it into a well known and visited resort. Charlotte is mesmerized by The Parkers’ words and accepts their invitation to visit Sanditon. In Sanditon, Charlotte is introduced to a world much different than what she knew in her hometown of Willingden.
In order to describe Sanditon, I have to mention the several characters that appear in the story. First, we have Charlotte and Sidney, the main romantic couple with their prides and prejudices like any Jane Austen iconic couple. Charlotte is young with little experience of society and towns or cities bigger than Willingden. When she first arrives at Sanditon, she is impressed by the different size and wealth of the houses the Parkers take her on visits, all much different than her life at Willingden. She meets Lady Denham, her nephew and nieces leaving quite an impression on them. She befriends Miss Lambie, whom she becomes good friends with. Her encounters with Sidney are never delightful at first, but with time the pridefulness and prejudice fadeaway, and other feelings take over.
Sidney is very mysterious. I had a difficult time deciphering him. He rarely discusses his business with his brother Tom and it isn’t until later in the book that we know where his fortune came from. In a way he envies Tom’s family but doesn’t think he will be able to have what his brother has. When he finally realizes his feelings for Charlotte the book is almost over and it feels slightly rushed, yet the build up to it feels like a Jane Austen couple.
Tom Parker made me feel anxious. The reader knows what he is trying to do and how things are tuning out. I wanted for him to rely so much on his wife. She would have been helpful and he would have probably had had someone to organize his ideas and actions towards making Sanditon the greatest coastal resort. Lady Denham is a smart woman but stubborn. She on the other hand relies too much on the sea air and her donkey’s milk. Her nephew is not the smartest and only wants her money. Edward loses everything because of his bad decisions, which he deserves. He really only cared about the money.
I liked how Miss Lambe stayed true to herself not letting people change her strong character and background. She wasn’t shy to remind everyone where she came from and never let an opportunity to fight with Sidney go. But my favorite character was without a doubt Esther Denham. She shows her true colors as soon as she is introduced. She is fighting for Lady Denham’s fortune in her own way. When one of Sidney’s friends starts courting her, she immediately lets him know she is not interested in his feelings. Later on, she confides in Lady Denham her fears which make her take risky decisions. Her only flaw is trusting her brother Edward more than she should.
Sanditon is the last book Jane Austen began writing before she died. I have no doubt it would have been an amazing romance novel like her other books if she would have finished it or told her sister Cassandra the ending. When reading the book you can’t help but fall in love with the couple Charlotte and Sidney can become, you wonder what will Esther do to take control of her life, will Lady Denham die, will Tom finish the resort he dreams about, will Miss Lambe be happy. This book may be a little of Austen, a little of Kate Riordan and Andrew Davies but it at least gives us a romance story we can read and daydream about. And! A TV series we can admire.
If you’re a fan of Jane Austen I recommend Sadinton, a romance novel for your collection.