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Sanditon: Jane Austen's Last Novel Completed

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From the publisher: Sanditon was Jane Austen's last novel, bequeathed unfinished to her niece. This is its completion, praised for its delicacy, wit and discretion.

When Charlotte Heywood, eldest daughter of a family of fourteen, is invited to stay with Mr. and Mrs. Parker of Sanditon, she accepts with alacrity, intrigued to visit the once quiet town being promoted by Mr. Parker as the newly fashionable resort for sea-bathing.

As a guest of the Parkers, Charlotte is introduced to the full range of Sanditon polite society, from Lady Denham to her impoverished ward Clara and from the feckless Sidney Parker to his hypochondriac sisters. A heroine whose clear-sighted common sense is often at war with romance, she cannot help observing around her both folly and romance in many guises, but can she herself resist the attractions of the heart?

316 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1975

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About the author

Jane Austen

4,190 books62.7k followers
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.
Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer. Her artistic apprenticeship lasted from her teenage years until she was about 35 years old. During this period, she experimented with various literary forms, including the epistolary novel which she tried then abandoned, and wrote and extensively revised three major novels and began a fourth. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon, but died before completing it.
Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century realism. Her plots, though fundamentally comic, highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew's A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer. The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 773 reviews
Profile Image for Elizabeth George.
Author 114 books4,826 followers
February 23, 2020
Having watched Masterpiece Classic's production of Sanditon, I turned back to this 1975 completion of the novel, which I hadn't read since 1975 when it first came out. Although it doesn't at all follow the story that Andrew Davies wrote for the production, it it nonetheless completely charming and utterly diverting. It was, for me, the perfect antidote to these trying times through which we're living. It's my intention in this year 2020 to re-read all of Jane Austen's work (with Mansfield Park coming up next). I'll be doing that on an every-other-book-I-read fashion. For Austen fans, this book is a must because the point at which Another Lady takes over and completes the narrative is completely indistinguishable from the rest of the text. It's a masterful accomplishment. I adored the experience of once again diving into Regency England.
Profile Image for Amy.
2,578 reviews403 followers
August 16, 2019
Random girl: "Oh, I've heard of that author!"
Me: "Jane...Austen?"
Girl: "Yeah!"
Me: *polite, everyone-knows-Austen-but-I-don't-want-to-embarrass-you smile* "This is Sandition, definitely not one of her more famous ones. She wrote the first 11 chapters but never completed it."
Girl: "Oh yeah, I've totally heard of that one. Her daughter finished it."
Me: *too horrified for words* "Jane Austen's...daughter?"
My Sister: *much less polite than me* "Idiot, Jane Austen didn't have a daughter."
Me: "Well...it went to her niece. Who also didn't finish it but maybe that's what you're thinking of!"
Girl: *shrugs*

So...Jane Austen. Famous author. You might have heard of her. But you probably haven't heard of Sandition...except maybe you have because there is that new miniseries coming out. Austen wrote the first 11 chapters and died which, honestly, is one of the world's great literary tragedies because it starts off marvelously. Chapter 3 begins, "Every neighborhood should have a great lady." Genius. Sign me up for more.
But she did not write more so some enterprising author came along and finished it.
In 1975.
Which is a mixed bag. I quickly fell for the main couple but the conclusion really alienated me. Laughing gray eyes and abductions have more in common with a Georgette Heyer novel than Austen. I love Heyer, but Austen and Heyer are very different vibes. Mashing them together works...but only to a point.
And, unlike both those authors, this novels suffers from a bad case of hindsight. Characters enthuse about gaslights and other inventions just about to make it big. If actually written by Austen such perspicacity would represent outstanding prophetic insight. From another, it just feels out of place and highlights the gulf between the "actual" Austen portion of the book and the non-Austen.
(Characters also dance without gloves on which horrified me.)

Overall, I loved the beginning and middle but the climax and conclusion jars the story by taking a very un-Austen route to happily ever after. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed just about every minute of the trip. Didn't love the hero's reason for loving the heroine but...that's an analysis for another re-read.
Profile Image for Ceri.
284 reviews91 followers
April 30, 2015
This review was first posted on Babblings of a Bookworm: http://babblingsofabookworm.blogspot....

In early 1817 Jane Austen began writing a story called ‘Sanditon’. She was only able to work on it for around 7 weeks before her health deteriorated to such an extent that she had to abandon it. She died around 4 months later, bequeathing the unfinished manuscript to her niece, Anna Austen Lefroy. There are a number of continuations of the book (there’s a list on Wikipedia) but the reason I chose to read this one, written in 1975, was because I saw a recommendation on a blog (if I recall correctly, it was The Bookrat) saying that they hadn’t noticed the join between Austen’s words and the completion. I thought I’d go into it without knowing where the join took place either.

A confusion in address and a carriage accident leads to the introduction of Mr Tom Parker and his wife Mary to the Heywood family. Mr Parker injures his ankle and being friendly people, Mr Heywood invites the Parkers to stay until the ankle injury has healed. Mr and Mrs Parker wish to return the civility by inviting the Heywood family to stay with them at their home in the seaside resort of Sanditon. The Heywoods won’t agree to all go, but eldest daughter Charlotte, who in her early 20s, sets off for Sanditon with the Parkers. Mr Parker’s favourite subject is Sanditon, which he has invested in and hopes to see become a fashionable resort. He is a little ridiculous in his fulsome praise of the place, stating that it can cure every ailment:

‘The sea air and sea bathing together were nearly infallible, one or the other of them being a match for every disorder of the stomach, the lungs or the blood. They were anti-spasmodic, anti-pulmonary, anti-septic, anti-bilious and anti-rheumatic.’

Charlotte is introduced to the society in Sanditon, who are a very interesting selection of people. Firstly there is the grande dame of Sanditon, Lady Denham, who is a very contrary lady – she is stingy but she is also interested in making Sanditon a fashionable location, so the Parkers are keen to remain on terms with her. Her favour is also being courted by relatives of her late husband, the supercilious Miss Denham, and her brother, Sir Edward Denham, who is one of the most ridiculous characters I’ve ever come across. Imagine a man who has all of Catherine Morland’s love of gothic novels, but is old enough to know better. He is without sense, full of conceit, and fancies himself as a gallant. He has a tendency to misquote poetry... badly. And he will not use one word where fifteen will suffice:

‘He sought to entertain them with his longest syllables and most edifying sentences.’

In addition to these characters, we also have Mr Parker’s siblings, who all come to visit during Charlotte’s stay. Three of them are great invalids, or fancy themselves as such, but all the Parkers share a trait of being very enthusiastic about their pet projects. Mr Parker has Sanditon, while the others have illness, being a busybody, seaweed and directing the course of events to fill their time.

I really liked Charlotte as a heroine. Amongst such oddbods her normality shone through. She is sensible and unromantic, but this doesn’t mean her heart is safe from being touched. Charlotte is much more perceptive than the other inhabitants of Sanditon, and she picks up on intrigues that most people there are unaware of. She also has a bit of a lack of self-esteem and she is by no means vain. I don’t want to tell you too much about the plot, but there are some intrigues afoot, some villainy planned and quite a bit of manipulation of others for their own good going on, and our dear Charlotte will be observing and trying to understand it all.

As for the join between Austen’s work and that of the other author (Marie Dobbs, who also wrote under the name Anne Telscombe), I didn’t notice it either, but over the course of the book I felt that it began to feel more and more modern. The characters frankness with each other surprised me, as did some of the events. As the plot moved on I felt it moved further and further away from an Austen novel. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy it. I enjoyed the book very much, and found myself thinking of it when I wasn’t reading it, but I think it’s a safe bet to say that Austen wouldn’t have ended the book this way. It felt more in the style of Georgette Heyer than Austen to me. In fact, Charlotte reminded me a little of Ancilla Trent in ‘The Nonesuch’ by Georgette Heyer because she was so much more aware of what was going on than the other people staying in Sanditon, and Charlotte’s relationship with the hero also reminded me of this book. This was a wonderfully entertaining read and I’d recommend it. I’d rate this as a five star read.
Profile Image for Misty.
796 reviews1,230 followers
August 16, 2012
[First read June 11 2008]
[2nd reading June 17 2012]

*Please note: the author, who published this under the name of "Another Lady" also publishes under the names Anne Telscombe and Marie Dobbs. I'm not sure if either is her real name, but for the sake of brevity, I'm calling her "Dobbs" from here on out.

To properly explain to you why I love this novel, first I need to set the scene: the year was 2008, I wasn't blogging yet, and was in need of some structure; I was planning my summer reading and wishing for something like Jane Austen, when I realized that there were all these adaptations out there. At first, I was a bit startled. People would dare to "continue" and "adapt" Jane Austen? The horror. But then I thought, Maybe I could just embrace it? Maybe I could have a "Summer of Jane" and read all the adaptations I can get my hands on... (sound familiar?)  Well, it didn't work out quite the way I'd planned, because the first few I picked up (the names long since forgotten) were dreadful.  Awful, awful, awful stuff. In fact, I had just read another completion of Jane Austen's last unfinished work (ie this one) called "Charlotte" - about which I wrote my most scathing review EVER...only to have a Goodreads pageload error when I hit publish and I lost everything. Thwarted!

Anyway, I was about to give up and write off all Austen adaptations as puerile trash, but I had one more book in my stack of library books that was waiting to be read. I was really hesitant to read it, not only because it was another Austen adaptation, but because it was an adaptation of the very same work I'd just finished and loathed. Even if it turned out marginally better (I wasn't expecting much), I doubted I'd be able to separate it from the crap that filled the other book. But I decided to suck it up and give it a chance, and oh my sweet Jane, if it didn't completely change my mind about Austen adaptations. It was a revelation.

Now, I'm not saying this was perfect by any means. And I don't know how Jane Herself would have actually finished out the story (the fragment, if you didn't know, is 11 chapters long, so a good amount of the groundwork had been laid), but I have to say, Dobbs did a really admirable job of taking what she had to work with, parsing it out and figuring out where Austen may have intended the story to go, as well as where modern readers might want it to go, and then embracing that and going there. Aside from one particular sub-plot (that of the foolish wannabe-rake who takes things too far), I really didn't have any trouble believing that the story Dobbs presented was the one Jane intended.  It has her characteristic wit, and skewers the foibles of a population in a very Jane-like way. The hero and heroine Dobbs presents feel very well-suited to each other and to Austen's world, like they may be close to what Austen intended of them, and most of the things they go through worked for me.

I was also very impressed with how seamlessly Dobbs blended her writing with Austen's. I was so invested in the story (both the first and second times I read it) that I was 3/4 of the way through before I ever had the thought to wonder where specifically Austen's fragment left off and Dobbs writing picked up. I had to google, and then flip back and forth and compare. Dobbs did a very admirable job of mimicking Austen's tone and style without feeling forced or hitting many false notes. She captured that sly sense of humor, the sharp eye towards the follies of others, the characterization, the structure - she really took her time to make the story and the style - Austen's style - shine, rather than letting her own style intrude.  Rather, when it came time for her to take over the story, she injected her style gradually, so that - even though the plot does become more absurd and somewhat modern in its telling - the transition happens at such a good pace, and the style remains consistent enough, that the reader is never jarred out of the story by an abrupt shift in style or content.

Now, four years later, my "Summer of Jane" - which was to be a single, read-it-all and move on project - has evolved into a yearly tradition, and I've stumbled across many more good - and more than my share of bad - adaptations. To make sure my enjoyment of Sanditon wasn't a fluke due to the horrid nature of the other adaptations I'd read, I bought a copy and curled up with it for a second time. It wasn't a fluke; I fell just as in love with it as I did the first time around, and if it weren't for the fact that people would look at me like, Who? in Austen conversations, I'd talk just as readily of Charlotte and Sidney as I do of Elizabeth and Darcy, Catherine and Tilney, Wentworth and Anne... This was the first Austen adaptation I read that made me feel anything even close to what I felt the first time I read any of Austen's works, and it remains one of the few to have done so.
Profile Image for Angela Navatta.
82 reviews6 followers
December 2, 2020
I was going to go on a rant, but it is not necessary. If you did not like the ending to the Sanditon miniseries on ITV, PBS Masterpiece --just read this. You will be happier. The End.
571 reviews
September 3, 2011
Appalling. I don't mind that someone finished Austen's novel: I find such ventures fun when a talented contemporary author undertakes such a project. Jane Austen's novels are all about fun, and I have seen the fragments of Sanditon and the Watsons completed in interesting fashions by competent authors.

But Ms. Shapiro's completion is deplorable. Shapiro is completely unfaithful to Austen's intentions and redefines characters that Austen had already drawn carefully. And where Austen's characters are revealed by means of their own dialog, Shapiro's characters are constantly having their innermost thoughts explained to us over and over again by Shapiro.

At one horrible point, Shapiro strays woefully from Austen's policy of leaving torrid details out of her stories: Clara Brereton (intended to be a Jane Fairfax type) is found ravished in a field...the supposed victim of one of Austen's handsome comic characters. Not only is this scene impossible in Austen fiction, but neither of these two characters, as Austen created them, would have been caught up in such an event.

In Shapiro's completion, the details of the relationship between the novel's hero and heroine are ripped straight from Pride and Prejudice. And I suspect that this is the only one of Austen's books that Shapiro has read. (Shapiro admits in her strangely worded biography at the end of the book that she has read Pride and Prejudice many times. Charlotte, our lovely heroine, is turned into a cheap imitation of Elizabeth Bennett.)

Shapiro populates her completion with so many characters that were not in Austen's story that the book becomes her own, and a jumbled mess it is. Shapiro even changes the name of one minor character. Austen names a young girl Mary at the beginning of the last chapter of her fragment; Shapiro completes the chapter by renaming the child Alice. Sloppy.

At the end of the book, in what is really the Austenesque last chapter, when hero and heroine are united properly in marriage, Shapiro finds that she must wrap up the destinies of all her other hastily created characters. What ensues is three insane chapters of "surprises", new stories and and contrived outcomes for all stray characters. Awful.

Yes. I own a copy of this book. Please someone take it off my hands!
Profile Image for Kailey (Luminous Libro).
2,915 reviews444 followers
March 20, 2016
I am so pleased with this uncompleted last novel of Jane Austen's that was finished by "another lady". It tells the story of Charlotte Heywood who is visiting friends in a seaside town called Sanditon. Charlotte meets all the respectable society of Sanditon, and spends most of her time observing their characters and deciding if she should laugh at them, pity them, befriend them, or scorn them. She herself is very unassuming and sensible, but when the charming Mr. Sidney Parker comes on the scene, her self-possession begins to slip and Charlotte finds herself wrapped up in intrigue, deceit, and gossip of the worst kind.

I couldn't even tell where Jane Austen's original work left off and Marie Dobbs writing began! I'm usually very skeptical about other authors trying to recreate or imitate someone else's work, but wow! She perfectly captures the sweet laughing mockery of Austen's writing. Austen made fun of everybody with little biting remarks, but also forgave them their faults in the next sentence. This writing style, the wording, the dialogue, and even the descriptions are perfectly blended together throughout the book in Austen's own way. I could have sworn she wrote the whole thing! (And I am very picky and critical about all things Austen, let me tell you.)

All the characters are exactly what I would expect from an Austen novel; perfectly delightful and complex and interesting! The plot follows just the sort of outline that Austen always follows in her novels, right down to the minor catastrophe near the end which pushes the characters to take action and come together.

I am completely delighted with the entire book! I only have one complaint: There were too many characters to keep track of. This is a pet peeve of mine. Some of them were necessary, yes; but many of them could have been disposed of, and I think it would have made for a clearer story.
Profile Image for Natasha.
Author 11 books36 followers
September 26, 2020
After binge watching “Sanditon” this weekend, I was left hanging and needed closure to the story. Jane Austen died before she could finish writing this book, so it was completed by “Another Lady.” The first 11 chapters were penned by Austen. The rest of the book was written by “Another Lady.”

Once I realized how much artistic license the writers and producers of the tv series exercised, I was confused. I had to ignore everything I saw in the tv series and start from scratch with this cast of characters. One thing I discovered is Sidney, the hero, is multi-layered in this book. I loved him in this book! In the the series, he was a bit wooden and one-dimensional. I also enjoyed the absence of the OW drama the tv series added to the story.

This story had more characters and the personalities of some of the minor characters were much improved. Others were not so improved. Not in this book are the characters of the baron who pursued the redhead who liked her stepbrother a little too much, the doctor-inventor, and the would-be architect who lost his father in a fire.

The additional chapters to this book were well-written and definitely had an Austen-esque style. I enjoyed the way Sidney and Charlotte talked to each other and the way she reacted to him. It was pure romance. The ending was a bit far-fetched, but not completely unbelievable. Overall, this was entertaining and a satisfying ending to Sidney and Charlotte’s love story.
Profile Image for Britt Shotts.
84 reviews
August 16, 2020
Note that if you're picking this up, hoping for closure after the disastrously inconclusive conclusion of the Masterpiece series finale (raises hand), you won't find it here. Austen herself only wrote the first eleven chapters (roughly 75 pages of the 300+ contained in the paperback version I purchased) and while there are some common character names between the two, the book and television series are fundamentally two very different stories, finished by two different creative minds. That said, I am VERY impressed at how this 'Another Lady' successfully integrated so many Jane-isms into her interpretation of the work. Many of the trademark puzzle pieces are still here: the misunderstandings, the folly, the not-actually-all-that-scandalous scandals. Is it P&P? No, of course not. But it's a delightful reminder that once upon a time, people fretted over the seating order in a barouche in much the same way we all tried to position ourselves in the vicinity of our crush at the back of a school bus.
Profile Image for Teresa.
553 reviews118 followers
June 30, 2018
It took me some time to get into this book and I'm not sure why. I had previously read the piece that Jane Austen had written and enjoyed it.
There are a huge cast of characters in this novel. At times I had to flick back to remind myself of who it was I was reading about.
The heroine, Charlotte, seemed a bit wet and too goody goody for me at the beginning but as the book went on she did improve. The hero was a likable character and I took it to him from the start even though he took a while to appear in the story.
Of course there are some completely silly and annoying people in it. Diana Parker is the standout annoyance for me. She's always arranging and managing things without getting anything done and running here there and everywhere with out ever arriving. Lord Edward is one of the silliest creatures ever and would have been disowned by family today.
Sidney is also a very managing person but he pulls it off because he does it for the right reasons and has total loyalty to his friends. There was an unexpected side romance in it which I thought was a lovely addition to the book and I was cheering for the couple.
The merging of the old fragment and the part written by A Lady, is seamless. The language is the same and the story finished as you would imagine Jane intended. Once I got into it I was swept along and enjoyed it very much.
Profile Image for Alisha.
1,002 reviews64 followers
December 31, 2022
When I first read this completion of Jane Austen's fragment some years ago, I thought it was pretty good. This time through, I loved it.
It's possible that more exposure to Regency chick-lit and JA fan-fic has shown me just how rare it is for an author to creditably handle the language of that period, and the style of Austen. Because I was so much more impressed this time around. I don't think the "other lady" puts a foot wrong in her completion of the novel. It's fun, funny, and deftly worded.

Jane Austen's plot set-up is as follows: Charlotte Heywood and her family make friends with the Parkers, who invite her to come stay with them for a while at Sanditon, which is an up-and-coming seaside resort that Mr. Parker is heavily invested in. They arrive in town and Charlotte starts to meet the quirky people who live there or are visiting. There's Lady Denham (shades of Lady Catherine). There's her beautiful young relative Clara, who seems to have a secret. There's Sir Edward, a fool who imagines he's a villain. And there's Mr. Parker's siblings who are egregious hypochondriacs.
Jane Austen manages to introduce all of these people, but you know who she barely gets to introduce before coming to a screeching halt?

The hero.
He literally drives up in his carriage and doesn't really get to say anything just moments before Austen's part of the story ends. We know he's going to be Charlotte's guy because Austen has her characters mention him repeatedly before he arrives, and he sounds like a bit of a Henry Tilney. What could be better? Nothing!
In this completion, Sidney is every bit as interesting as he's set up to be. He's witty, he's surprising, he's intelligent, and he's a plotter... just enough to make Charlotte question how far she should trust him. I loved their interactions, and the mild amount of mystery surrounding his actions. I also loved how hard Charlotte genuinely tries to be sensible and balanced, even while Sidney is completely sweeping the rug out from under her feet. It's a satisfying read about falling in love.
Profile Image for Joy D.
1,901 reviews220 followers
September 6, 2022
Jane Austen began this novel not long before her death and she never had a chance to finish it. I had expected the written version to mimic Jane Austen’s refined prose; however, this proved not to be the case. It is a shame that Austen could not finish this book because the premise is unlike anything she had previously written.

The storyline involves a strong female character, Charlotte Heywood, who meets Mr. & Mrs. Parker due to a carriage accident that occurs near her home at Willingden, Sussex, where she lives with her parents and siblings. She is later invited to the visit and stay with the Parkers. Mr. Parker is an entrepreneur who is transforming a small fishing village into a seaside resort at Sanditon. Charlotte meets the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Parker, and it appears a relationship may develop between the two.

This is where the new material begins. It includes much more contemporary content than anything ever written by Jane Austen. It includes cursing, anachronisms, and much more sexual content than anything in Austen’s chaste romances. I did not care for the new material. I wish there had been some attempt to blend the two styles. Oh well. For me, the first half is great. The second is awful.
Profile Image for Yulia.
339 reviews316 followers
May 10, 2008
It's an act of true bravery of Marie Dobbs to have attempted to finish this work. I can imagine her primary reason for this effort was an act of love for Austen and sympathy with other Austen fans in mourning their having "finished" Austen's extant work. Dobbs wanted to give readers more when Austen herself could not, which is precisely why I bought this book--because I, too, found myself in mourning and wanted to believe others could carry on her legacy. So no, I can't fault Dobbs for trying. I can't even criticize the fact her own work does not reach Austen's heights. Wouldn't it be like criticizing a eulogy of a shared loved one? We all mourn in our own way. Some obsess over Colin Firth. Others try to give voice to Austen's unfinished text.
Profile Image for Mela.
1,466 reviews185 followers
November 2, 2022
no one suffers a headache any longer than is necessary

Anne Telscombe had stayed faithful to the wit of the original, and most of all, she didn't "damage" Mr. Parker. I am very glad and happy.

For the rest, it was charming. Finishing Jane Austen's book had to be an almost "sacred" job. Telscombe did it well. The idea for love stories was wonderful - although I would have preferred more meetings, dialogues, etc. The mystery part was nice too. But all was too short. There was material for a longer novel, probably with more action/plot. So although I have enjoyed it more than QNPoohBear, I agree with most of her comments.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
935 reviews50 followers
August 9, 2022
This was a lot of fun! I thought the finisher did a great job capturing both the spirit of Jane Austen's writing and of the characters. Charlotte Heywood is a great heroine.
Profile Image for Roger Brunyate.
946 reviews637 followers
May 28, 2017
No Call for Caution

Five stars for a fragment followed by a pastiche? Yes indeed, for I believe that were this novel published under Jane Austen's name alone, most readers would simply accept it as one of hers from beginning to end. Not one of her greatest, perhaps, but even second-tier Austen is worth five stars. And speaking for myself, a book that I merely intended to dip into out of curiosity first seduced, then gripped me, and left me in the end with tears of pleasure.

Jane Austen started the novel that her family called "Sanditon" in early 1817, the year of her death. She wrote twelve chapters and then abandoned it. The fragment was not published until 1925, and is still available in several collections of Austen's minor works, such as that in the Oxford Classics edition. I myself have owned a copy for over fifty years, but was inspired to read it only by reading Anthony Lane's article in the New Yorker of March 13, 2017. Lane suggests that the fragment is a masterpiece in its own right, but I confess I did not find it so. I do agree with him, however, on his major point: that Austen turns her satirical pen to the themes of health and hypochondria, often with hilarious results, at a time when she must surely have been alarmed by her own failing health—a poignant theme when seen in that light.

I was also struck by Austen's departure from her normal world. The setting, Sanditon, is a fledgling seaside resort on Britain's south coast, but it is not treated simply as a convenient locale for social interaction, as both Lyme Regis and Bath are in Persuasion. Rather, we look behind the scenes at Sanditon's two entrepreneurs, the gentleman booster Mr. Parker and the money-grubbing Lady Denham, "born to Wealth but not to Education." As a result, the role of money, which has always been a strong subtext in Austen's novels, here becomes a major theme; we have taken a clear step away from the rural villages and landed estates of vintage Austen, and are now in a distinctly more mercantile world.

Preparing this for a book club, I stopped where Austen herself put down her pen, and played with ideas on how she might have completed it. It is extraordinarily difficult. For by the twelfth chapter in her four previous novels, Austen had already introduced all the major characters and set the plot in motion; alliances have been made and battle lines set; young people have already fallen in love. In musical terms, she would have already completed her exposition and might even have started the development. But not so here. Many characters have been introduced, it is true, but if they are developed at all it is as figures of satire: blowhards, hypocrites, hypochondriacs, and so on. With one exception: Charlotte Heywood, a young woman with her head very much on her shoulders, whom Mr. Parker invites to stay with his family for the summer. But so far, Charlotte is presented merely as a clear-eyed observer, a mirror in which to reflect the foibles of others; we learn very little about her as a person in her own right. There are a few more young female characters who might be developed in secondary roles, but an almost total absence of sympathetic men. It is true that there is much talk about Mr. Parker's younger brother Sidney, witty and wealthy in equal measure, who is expected to join them at any moment, but Austen stopped before he and Charlotte could meet.

I thought for a while and came up with a few things, then turned to "Another Lady's" completion. And was immediately fascinated. "So that's how she goes on," I found myself saying, before realizing that the "she" in this case was not Jane Austen but her anonymous collaborator! And I remained in this ambiguity for much of the rest of the book, essentially making no distinction between the two authors or their styles. I do not want to say too much more except that Another Lady does indeed develop Sidney Parker, and brings down two of his eligible male friends from London with him to correct the gender imbalance. Other than that, she plays fair by working entirely with the characters and themes introduced by Austen herself. Without plagiarizing, she also allows herself echoes of other works. Sidney Parker, for instance, has a lot of the organizing abilities of Austen's Emma Woodhouse (though substituting casual charm for her officiousness), and there are a number of those social set pieces that play such important roles in Emma and Mansfield Park: excursions around the shore, a carriage trip to a rival resort, and a grand Assembly ball. Even an elopement, but I won't say whose.

And she keeps her readers on their toes, with many twists of the plot, only one of which strained my credulity at all. Some were genuine surprises; others I guessed before Charlotte herself did. But that too is part of the Austen style, that the heroine should fail to see something that is increasingly obvious to others. As Sidney says at one point, "Caution and Miss Heywood go very well together." Charlotte's caution, though, is a great part of her attractiveness, and it makes it wonderfully exciting when she finally lets it go. And any caution that a reader may have in picking up such a hybrid of a novel can safely be let go also; many of the most beautiful blooms are hybrids.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
193 reviews4 followers
June 28, 2008
This book was by Jane Austen and "Another Lady," mostly by the other lady. The first 11 chapters were by Austen, mostly, and it was obvious. By the end of the 11th chapter, though, there was no real indication of where the plot would go, except for using other Austen novels as a guide (seems reasonable), so most of the plot is by the other lady, as well. It is pretty much a published piece of fan fiction. Not bad fan fiction, but not great fan fiction, either, and not even close to the author it is meant to honor. That said, I enjoyed reading it, once I decided not to hold the bulk of the book up to Austen's level.

One thing the book did for me is to cast into fairly sharp relief those qualities of Jane Austen's novels that I like: the language, the social criticism and commentary, the character development, and the multi-dimensionality of the book's structure, among other features. This book had the language and the groundwork for the social commentary in the first eleven chapters, but those were short chapters and there was no room for character development or multiple dimensions. By the end of the 11th chapter, we knew very little about the apparent heroine, and the supposed hero had been mentioned once (and so maybe they were not the hero and heroine, after all!). The rest of the book is high on personal criticism, but is one-dimensional and is missing the social commentary, language, and character development. Another Lady tells us repeatedly about the selfishness of certain characters, practically rubs our faces with it, in a way that Jane Austen would never have done. Another Lady tried to capture Austen's language and the contemplative tone that most of her books have, but she didn't succeed. Still, it was fun and not actively painful. Plus, with two elopements on the same day, it's hard to complain.
Profile Image for Judy.
428 reviews102 followers
March 5, 2008
I loved the part written by Austen, which I loved and found surprisingly different from her other novels, going off in new directions.

I hesitated over whether to read the part by "Another Lady" (an Australian writer called Marie Dobbs), but in the end carried on. I did quite enjoy her part too, but it isn't much like Austen really, although she does have a dry, witty tone and sometimes gets in some quite Austen-like weighted sentences - here's an example:
"Removed for some time from the influence of each other, both he and his sister improved in temper; and though their real characters underwent no revolution, they at least learned to hide them more successfully from others."

The big difference is that her story is lighter and frothier and more of a romance - more like Georgette Heyer. I suspect if Austen had finished the book it would have been very different from this version.

Really I'd like to give this book five stars for Austen and three for Dobbs.:)
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,116 reviews186 followers
February 8, 2019
I wouldn't like to say that it was impossible for another author to complete Jane Austen's unfinished novel, Sandition, or to pen a sequel worthy of her masterpieces, but I have simply never seen it done. Sadly, this book did not prove me wrong...

I am not sure who "Another Lady" may be, but as admirable as I find her attempt, her prose is no match for the witty Jane, and I recall being instantly aware of the change in authorship, when passing from the eleventh to the twelfth chapter. How I wish that Austen had been able to complete this novel... but as she didn't, I must simply reconcile myself to the fact that there will be no more Jane Austen discoveries for me...

Unless, of course, I decide to read her letters... hmmm - now there's an idea!
Profile Image for Laurel.
Author 2 books318 followers
March 28, 2010
After 35 years, this continuation remains one of best Austenesque novels

Last unfinished works by acclaimed novelist have an irresistible attraction. Inevitably someone will want to complete them. Psychologically we all want closure in our own lives as well as our literature. I readily admit when I first read Sanditon, Jane Austen’s last unfinished novel, and came to the last lines in chapter 12, “Poor Mr. Hollis! It was impossible not to feel him hardly used: to be obliged to stand back in his own house and see the best place by the fire constantly occupied by Sir Henry Denham.” I felt a huge pang of regret. Not only were her characters left dangling, so was I. I had not only been robbed of many hours of reading enjoyment, but of my requisite Austen happy ending.

One wonders out loud if the abrupt halt in narrative also affected Another Lady, the anonymous co-author of Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Last Novel Completed, inspiring her to finish the story. When it was first published in condensed format in Redbook Magazine in February 1975 there were very few Jane Austen inspired sequels or continuations in print. It would be another twenty years before the movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice would elevate Austen to pop-culture status and launch a thousand and one sequels. What appears to us today as a logical transition to continue the story of Austen’s beloved characters in paraliterature was in fact quite a bold move for its day. Evidently the author entered this arena with some serious trepidation by not disclosing her true identity and inserting “An Apology from the Collaborator” as an addendum to the novel. At this point, her attempts to forestall reproof had only fueled my suspicions for her possible success.

Written in 1817 during the last six months of Austen’s life, the fragment of Sanditon comprises the first eleven chapters and the beginning of chapter twelve in this continuation. The transition was very smooth, and great care had obviously been taken in choice of language and sentence structure to emulate her predecessor. Set on the Sussex coast the emerging village of Sanditon has pretentions to be a posh sea-side resort. The two minions of the community, Mr. Parker an entrepreneurial landowner and his wealthy and parsimonious partner Lady Denham dominate its development and social life. The story unfolds from the perspective of Charlotte Heywood, a young lady visiting Mr. and Mrs. Parker. Sanditon is also populated by a comical ensemble of residents and visitors who upon Charlotte’s first acquaintance are altogether different than they later appear. Lady Denham’s nephew Sir Edward Denham is handsome, amiable and titled but completely eccentric believing himself to a romantic character born to seduce women. He has designs upon Lady Denham’s companion Clara Brereton, a poor relation who is maneuvering to be her heir and in direct competition with him for her favor. Also sharing the spotlight are Mr. Parker’s four siblings, three of whom are sad invalids in there own minds. The one bright light of hope in the novel is Mr. Parker’s witty and charming brother Sidney. The guests of the resort also include Mrs. Griffith’s and her three charges, the sickly Mulatto heiress Miss Adela Lambe and the two predatory husband hunting Beaufort sisters. Another Lady continues the plot, setting, themes and characters established by Austen only adding two new characters, Sidney Parkers friends Mr. Canton and Henry Brudenall.

As the story progresses there is a gradual shift in style as the new author takes the reigns stepping beyond Austen’s usual refinement and sharp satire into a more burlesque and theatrical comedy. Many predictable lines of narrative follow: Charlotte is cautious and observant, Sidney outspoken and impetuous, Clara beautiful and kind, Sir Edward flamboyant and deluded, all as Austen established until plot twists, elopements and abductions push this into Georgette Heyer territory of outrageous romantic comedy. This change is not wholly unwelcome because the author keeps closely within the confines of Austen’s language. In addition, there are also many laugh out loud moments to add levity to the tone. The strongest character to drive the narrative is Sidney Parker whose untoward remarks and officious vanity humorously ruffle Charlotte’s overly cautious sensibilities. His teasing and pleasing nature is the closest character I have read to Austen’s Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey in wit and charm. That, is quite a complement! Readers may also feel a strong sense of déjà vu in finding themselves within familiar Austen territory as they discover several allusions to her characters and plots from all of her novels throughout the new narrative. This was my one objection to the new author. Austen did not have to duplicate anything from her previous stories to drive her plots or accent her ironies. Another Lady uses this crutch too freely at times, and I thought it diminished her credibility.

Overall Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Last Novel Completed was a most enjoyable read. After thirty-five years it remains one of the better examples of what to do right with a sequel or continuation and every Janeite and potential Austenesque author should read it. Another Lady might have wanted to “follow Jane Austen’s own early example of anonymity” preferring the protection of a moniker, but it may have actually been a shrewd move to shield herself from the wrath of circa 1975 Janeites who were not yet prepped for Austenmania.

Laurel Ann, Austenprose
Profile Image for Emily.
874 reviews145 followers
July 14, 2020
This didn't really feel like a Jane Austen novel, not even the first eleven chapters written by Austen herself. I remember the first time I tried reading the fragment, many years ago, being put off by the carriage accident in the first paragraph, and also by the whole idea of the novel being about promoters trying to boost a sleepy seaside village into a fashionable resort - it seems that if she had completed this book, it would have been something of a departure for her.

The author who published her continuation of the story did a fairly good job. I enjoyed the subplot about Arthur Parker, and was amused by all the ladies seizing on the fad of collecting and pressing artistic arrangements of seaweed -- although this read rather more Victorian than Regency to me. Did bathing machines even exist in 1817, I wonder.

I agree with another reviewer here who found the book seemed to owe more to Georgette Heyer, than to Austen, and also that the ending is a mess. And now off to watch the recently televised version...

Profile Image for Ivy-Mabel Fling.
422 reviews32 followers
June 17, 2022
It would have been intriguing to see how this novel might have ended and, in general, how Jane Austen's career might have developed, had she not died so young. This book reflects a change in society, a move towards the mercantile, despite containing some of the eccentric figures which make Miss Austen's work so uniquely entertaining. A new departure which retains the best features of the most renowned works. A very short read but nevertheless a fascinating one.
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,324 reviews154 followers
May 7, 2022
I'm in a group that does a monthly challenge. For April the challenge was to read the books I’ve been saving for a rainy day, with the intent being that I find something I love. This was one of those books.

After watching the first season of Sanditon on PBS a couple of years ago I was very disappointed when I found out it was canceled. Now, I knew the TV adaptation wasn't very true to Jane Austen's book, because it was obvious that some of the elements that were added into the story would never have been written by Jane Austen, but nevertheless, I enjoyed the show and wanted it to continue after that terrible, heartbreaking cliffhanger. Imagine my delight when my wish came true and it was rescued and given another season! Then imagine my disappointment when the actor that played Sidney wouldn't come back to finish the story! So I gave up on the TV version. I decided not to watch the second season and instead decided to try this book in hopes that it would give me closure to the story of Charlotte and Sidney.

There was a bit of confusion for me concerning the finished versions of Sanditon. I did not realize that there were multiple versions that were completed. I picked this one up thinking it was the only one, only to find out differently afterwards. There is one other in particular that I want to read that is finished by Anne Telscombe, referred to on some of the covers as "Another Lady" I think it would be fun to compare the two different versions.

As for this version of the work, I feel like this gave me some good closure, and I enjoyed listening to the audio version of it. I do recommend it, but keep in mind that it's not going to be perfect. No finished version of another author's work ever is. I have to say though, that not knowing where the original story left off, I couldn't tell at what point Juliette's part of the story took over.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader.
Profile Image for Kristy.
1,314 reviews10 followers
April 27, 2022
I just loved this and can't wait to read it again. I felt like Another Lady did a wonderful job piecing together a story from the initial 11 chapters Jane Austen finished.
Profile Image for Amy.
Author 2 books153 followers
January 12, 2015
This represents the last writings of Jane Austen. She put the work aside in March of 1817, and died 4 months later. The novel remained unfinished, but at some point another took up the pen to complete it, and the flyleaf of this edition (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1975) bears the inscription of Jane Austen and Another Lady (who apparently is names Anne Telscombe).

Starting to read this book, I found myself entering into that singular rhythm found in Austen novel; smiling to myself at the quaintness, and delighting as she drew out characters. But there was a point when things no longer felt "right". The characters changed, and the writing seemed to bear the complexities of a more modern hand. By about chapter 14, I put the book down and began to investigate more thoroughly where the break was from Austen's original and the pen of Another Lady. This apparently occurs in chapter 11, where Austen was outlining the situation of the twice-widowed Lady Denham, who was living back in the home of her first (deceased) husband, who was not titled. His portrait was on the wall in a corner, while Sir Henry's occupied a more prominent place of honor over the mantle. The last sentence Austen wrote, was on this, and shows her typical delicious style/ "Poor Mr Hollis! It was impossible not to feel him hardly used; to be obliged to stand back in his own house and see the best place by the fire constantly occupied by Sir Henry Denham"

I think I almost enjoyed my research more than the actual novel (which was one my mother got as a library discard, and passed on to me.) I did both online reading and then discovered an afterward in this edition that gave nice info.

Normally, I steer clear of novels "in the style of", but this was nice to read, and I must admit that I am rather proud of myself for picking out the change in authorship.
Profile Image for Jess.
504 reviews118 followers
January 15, 2021
“But Sanditon itself — everybody has heard of Sanditon. The favourite — for a young and rising bathing-place — certainly the favourite spot of all that are to be found along the coast of Sussex; the most favoured by nature, and promising to be the most chosen by man.”- Mr. Parker

When I finished the chapters that Jane Austen wrote and began the ones written by "Another Lady" my heart sank a bit. I was struck by the story Jane Austen started and tragically (for me) did not complete due to her illness and death. The plot she began with the assortment of characters completely charmed me. I truly do lament the loss of her and what could have been in this novel. Maybe it's part fanciful musings, but I was getting the impression this novel would truly have been such a different, unique book in relation to her others. It just felt different in how she began it. And I loved.

When "Another Lady" took over. The tone changes subtly and that breezy, tongue in cheek manner of writing I find in Austen went away. Though wonderfully written by Another Lady; the story began to fall a little flat. The humorous quotes I look forward to from Austen weren't there. And I can't entirely fault Another Lady as she simply isn't Jane Austen. I will still give her accolades for attempting to finish it and sticking to themes we know are present in Austen novels. I just am feeling the literary loss of Jane Austen rather deeply after reading the brilliant beginning to a novel that I think would have been a favorite Austen novel for me.
Profile Image for Chantelle Marshall.
61 reviews1 follower
June 1, 2021
My quest to read all versions of this story, from Ms Austen's unfinished manuscript to this completed novel, gives me satisfaction in seeing the story from different angles. This version takes the very familiar formula of her 6 previous books + weaves a pleasant tale of heroine meets + falls in love with a hero. While I love this formula (+ all Jane Austen books), I have to wonder if it was her intent to continue with the tried + true or to finally break the mold. Had her health not declined, would she have taken a chance to NOT have a happy ending, or perhaps develop her characters in another way? We'll never know. This is a delightful, + safe, conclusion to an unfinished masterpiece. You won't be disappointed if you're already an Austen fan!
Profile Image for Léa.
310 reviews
September 9, 2019
Sympathique mais... ce n'est pas la belle plume de Jane Austen jusqu'au bout comme la dit très bien la mystérieuse dame qui a fini ce roman. On perçoit nettement la différence entre les premiers chapitres rédigés par Jane et la suite rédigée par cette dame (dont je n'ai pas réussi à trouver le nom). Si l'histoire reste très sympathique à lire il manque toute l'ironie mordante de Jane Austen. Cela reste un roman intéressant à lire pour tous les fans de la grande autrice anglaise.
Profile Image for Karen.
80 reviews4 followers
February 20, 2021
It was interesting to see Austen's satirical treatment of hypochondriacs, one of the main flavors of eccentrics in her day, as well as medical grifters and spa towns. Also, there were some hilarious lines from a "gentleman" who had read too many horrid novels and modeled himself after the wicked seducers. But overall, this felt like a rough draft. Too bad Austen didn't live to edit and finish it.
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