This was a happy discovery indeed. LibraryThing lists the most requested new title among their December 2009 Early Reviewers choices as Sanditon, Austen’s last and unfinished novel!
Early Reviewers is a service for LibraryThing members who want to receive free advance copies of books in exchange for a review on their blog. To date, this new Hesperus Press edition of Sanditon has garnered 1356 requests (including mine), even beating out the next new Jane Austen paranormal novel Jane Bites Back at 998.
Sanditon, the last of Austen’s fictional works, was written from January to March 1817 only four months before her death and was first published in 1925 by Oxford University’s Clarendon Press. It is classified as one of her unfinished novels and is usually combined with her other minor works such as The Watsons and Lady Susan. The original manuscript was bequeathed to Anna Austen Lefroy (Jane Austen’s niece) by her aunt Cassandra Austen in 1845 and remained in the Lefroy family until 1930 when it was presented as a gift by Mary Isabella Lefroy (Anna Austen Lefroy’s grand-daughter) to King’s College, Cambridge where the manuscript resides today.
Other authors have attempted to finish the story with varying degrees of success including Anna Austen Lefroy (1793-1872). Ironically her continuation is also unfinished. Another by Juliette Shapiro is the most satisfying but in another strange twist does not include Jane Austen’s original text. This new edition by Hesperus Press is unabridged with a foreword by A. C. Grayling a Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Publisher’s description: Charlotte Heywood is privileged to accompany Mr and Mrs Parker to their home in Sanditon – not least because, they assure her, it is soon to become the fashionable epicentre of society summers. Finding the town all but deserted, she is party to the machinations of her socially mobile hosts in their attempts to gather a respectable crowd. As Sanditon fills with visitors, Austen assembles a classic cast of characters possessing varying degrees of absurdity and sense.
Well … who’da thought that it would draw so much interest?
I am tickled that so many of my fellow LibraryThing book geeks want to read Sanditon, but am quite puzzled by Hesperus Press’ choice of cover art. Is that a chicken’s arse waving at us? I don’t understand the connection. No chickens, hens or fowl mentioned in Sanditon that I can find. At least the wallpaper looks Regency-ish. Geesh!
- Want an Austen book infusion? Visit my Austenish books at LibraryThing.
- Read a review of Juliette Shapiro’s completion of Sanditon at AustenBlog.
- Additional information on Sanditon at Wikipedia