Sanditon Group Read Chapters 5-8: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day Four Giveaway

“We have consulted physician after physician in vain, till we are quite convinced that they can do nothing for us and that we must trust to our own knowledge of our own wretched constitutions for any relief.” Diana Parker Chapter 5

Quick Synopsis

A letter from Diana Parker updates her brother on their ongoing health issues. She does not believe in doctors. She may have two possible large families for his resort. Charlotte meets Lady Denham and Miss Brereton. One is shrewd, the other a heroine. Lady Denham does not want a doctor in Sanditon. Her husband poor Mr. Hollis would still be alive today without them. Charlotte meets Sir Edward Denham and his sister. He runs on about the “terrific grandeur” of the sea and poets. She thinks him downright silly. Later he tells her he was born to be a seducer and plans to woo Clara by affection or carry her off. Mr. Parker’s three siblings arrive in Sanditon and update him on their health woes. Diana has arrived to make arrangements for the Camberwell Seminary who she has procured through a chain of friends. Charlotte thinks she is activity run mad.


Chapter four opens with a letter from Diana Parker read by her brother. We begin to learn about the extent of their medical maladies. Diana is suffering from “my old grievance, spasmodic bile.” She thanks her brother for his efforts to find a doctor for Sanditon, but she is entirely done with the whole tribe and they prefer to treat themselves! This is an interesting dichotomy. Mr. Parker is trying to establish a health spa and his sister does not believe in doctors for herself or her siblings but does for others? She understands that having a doctor at Sanditon will attract visitors and help her brother’s enterprise but she wants none of it. She will not visit Sanditon because the sea air would be the death of her, so evidently she does not believe in natural remidies either. Ten days of leeches applied to her sister Susan has not cured her headaches. Her solution is to advise her to have three teeth drawn! This is shocking to Charlotte who thinks it is extreme. Mr. Parker agrees with her. Interesting that the two siblings are not in agreement on medical philosophies. This set up is a great way for Austen to develop the pros and cons of medical treatment and praying upon the sick.

Lady Denham was of middle height, stout, upright and alert in her motions, with a shrewd eye and self-satisfied air but not an unagreeable countenance; and though her manner was rather downright and abrupt, as of a person who valued herself on being free-spoken, there was a good humour and cordiality about her — a civility and readiness to be acquainted. The Narrator Ch 6

Charlotte begins to tour the neighborhood and visits the circulating library where she finds all kinds of trinkets to buy. Among the books is a volume of Camilla.She had not Camilla’s youth, and had no intention of having her distress.” Ha! Camilla: A Picture of Youth is Fanny Burney’s widely popular 1796 novel focused the matrimonial machination of a group of cousins. Austen had mentioned Camilla in her defence of a novel in Northanger Abbey.

“And what are you reading, Miss — ?” “Oh! It is only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language.” Northanger Abbey, Ch 5

I found it quite amusing that her heroine Charlotte has heard of Camilla but dismisses it because of the heroine’s challenges. What we know of Charlotte’s life so far would not put her in the line of a romantic heroine. Quite the contrary. Just to mix things up, later we do see her interest in Clara Brereton, Lady Denham’s companion, who she thinks is a “bewitching heroine in a novel.” Obviously she does read novels and thought she fit the part, but sees no apparent persecution by Lady Denham to qualify her in the Gothic vein. “On one side it seemed protecting kindness, on the other grateful and affectionate respect.”

“I make no apologies for my heroine’s vanity. If there are young ladies in the world at her time of life more dull of fancy and more careless of pleasing, I know them not and never wish to know them.” The Narrator (speaking to the reader directly) Ch 7

More introductions bring Sir Edward Denham and his sister Esther into Charlotte’s new social circle. Esther is cold and indifferent, but her brother is all charm and affability and Charlotte is impressed until he starts spouting romantic nonsense about the “terrific grandeur of the ocean” to her and erroneously quoting poetry which she quickly calls him out on. She believes that Burns’ life had certain irregularities that prevented her from trusting his writing. “He felt and he wrote and he forgot.” Sir Edward passionately defends him, but she thinks Sir Edward overly sentimental and downright silly and changes the subject to the weather. Lady Denham has her own agenda too. She reveals that even though Sir Edward is the heir of her late husband’s estate, he depends upon her for support. He must marry for money. “if we could but get a young heiress to Sanditon! But heiresses are monstrous scarce!” She is giving Charlotte fair warning that even though he is handsome, charming and titled, she should look elsewhere.

“Sir Edward’s great object in life was to be seductive. With such personal advantages as he knew himself to possess, and such talents as he did also give himself credit for, he regarded it as his duty. He felt that he was formed to be a dangerous man, quite in the line of the Lovelaces Sir Edward’s great object in life was to be seductive.” The Narrator Ch 7

Charlotte’s suspicions of Sir Edward are soon solidified when he continues to rattle on about books. “I am no indiscriminate novel reader. The mere trash of the common circulating library I hold in the highest contempt. You will never hear me advocating those puerile emanations which detail nothing but discordant principles incapable of amalgamation, or those vapid tissues of ordinary occurrences from which no useful deductions can be drawn.” He has been influenced by Samuel Richardson and his followers. His “great object in life was to be seductive” and he regards it as his duty. “He felt that he was formed to be a dangerous man, quite in the line of the Lovelaces.” Lovelace refers to anti-hero Robert Lovelace in Samuel Richardson’s 1748 novel Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady. Sir Edward openly announces to Charlotte that he has designs on Clara who is young, dependent and his rival for Lady Denham’s fortune. Clara sees his game. He is oblivious and if he can not seduce her with affection, he would carry her off, just like his hero Roger Lovelace.

“Invalids indeed. I trust there are not three people in England who have so sad a right to that appellation! But my dear Miss Heywood, we are sent into this world to be as extensively useful as possible, and where some degree of strength of mind is given, it is not a feeble body which will excuse us — or incline us to excuse ourselves. The world is pretty much divided between the weak of mind and the strong; between those who can act and those who cannot; and it is the bounden duty of the capable to let no opportunity of being useful escape them. My sister’s complaints and mine are happily not often of a nature to threaten existence immediately.” Diana Parker Ch 8

Diana Parker arrives in Sanditon totally unannounced. Like her brother Mr. Parker, she has acted on impulse and brought her two siblings with her even though they are all very ill (in their minds?). Diana has a thousand fears for her sister Susan who bore the travel tolerably well. No hysterics until they reached Sanditon! While Diana talks a blue streak about her medical news and her lengthy chain of communication to procure Mrs. Griffiths and her Camberwell Seminary group to Sanditon, Charlotte is amazed at her energy in the face of her condition. “Unaccountable officiousness! Activity run mad!” Diana explains that the world is divided between the weak of mind and the strong and those who can act and those who cannot. “It is the bounden duty of the capable to let no opportunity of being useful escape them.” We hear Diana and her brother talk about her illnesses and how debilitating they are to her, but we have no evidence of it – yet!

Favorite words

Vouchsafed, beau monde, venturesome, watering-place, milch asses, chamber-horse, physic, verily, beseech, indubitable, vicissitudes, aberrations, coruscations, illimitable, sagacity, forbearance, puerile, emanations, amalgamation, alembic, sublimities, incipient, aberration, amelioration, indomitable, eleemosynary, sagacity, assiduity, alacrity, belles letters.

Further reading

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Day 4 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Sanditon and Other Stories, by Jane Austen (Everyman’s Library) by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Sanditon, or who your favorite character is by midnight PDT  Friday, March 26th, 2010. Winner to be announced on Saturday, March 27th. Shipment to continental US addresses only.

Upcoming event posts

Day 5 – March 19 Regency seaside fashions
Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions
Day 8 – March 22 Event Wrap-up

© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

17 thoughts on “Sanditon Group Read Chapters 5-8: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day Four Giveaway

Add yours

  1. Sir Edward is an entertaining character, to say the least. And I really enjoyed all the talk about books and poetry in these chapters.

    Hmm…in my copy (the Penguin Classics edition with Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon), Diana Parker doesn’t arrive until chapter 9, which I’ll be starting this afternoon. I had to check to make sure because when I was reading the summary, I was thinking to myself that I hadn’t “met” her in person yet!



    1. Anna, I have noticed that some editons of Sanditon are 11 chapters and others 12. And in my copy of the Minor Works (Oxford Illustrated) there are no paragraph or chapter divisions at all. I think that the discrepancies lie in the fact that Austen’s original draft of Sanditon was one continueous train of thought. She did not indicate paragraphs or chapters. This is reflected in the Oxford editon, and others have inserted the chapter and paragraph breaks for ease for the reader. When Sanditon was first introduced to the public through Jane Austen: A Memoir the author J. E. Austen-Leigh said their were 12 chapters, so the family made the chapter break decisions. Why everyone after has not continued that tradition I do not know. It certainly makes it confusing and difficult to reference.


      1. That really is confusing! I’ve seen how many different versions there are of Austen’s books, so it is a bit crazy. At least Sanditon is so short that it’s not that difficult to find things when we’re all using different editions. Thanks for clearing that up for me!



  2. LA, loved your musings on JA’s possible intention to juxtapose pros and cons of medical treatment and preying on the sick. It certainly must have been topmost in her mind, considering where JA was at health-wise… It is rather amusing that Mr. Parker espouses that Sanditon is a cure-all, yet he goes looking for a medical man, just in case… =P

    Just wanted to share Oxford World Classics’ note on Camilla: Fanny Burney’s 9 year old heroine overspends her budget by £17 and thus involves herself and her family in grotesque distress. Charlotte recalls this distress when she curbs her own spending at the Library. She doesn’t have Camilla’s youth as an excuse if she does end up spending all her money the first night. I have not read this novel, but now I’m thinking I should!

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading Charlotte’s inner thoughts and astute observations about the different people around her:

    On Clara: That the young Lady at the other end of the Banch was doing Penance, was indubitable.

    On Miss Denham’s difference in attitude in front of Lady Denham vs other people: Miss Denham’s character was pretty well decided with Charlotte.

    On Sir Edward: She began to think him downright silly.

    (And as an aside, the first name of Lovelace the ‘livertine’ is Robert.)


    1. Your info on Camilla and the youth reference. That makes the comment much more clear.

      Thanks for the correction on Lovelace’s first name. A late night and an addled brain and all.



  3. I am interested in the social interaction. Nobody writes it like Jane Austen and I really like reading about her impressions of the people and the classes of her time.


  4. LA,- I hadn’t noticed the diachotomy between medical philosophies of Diana Parker and her brother.
    However, they both appear such ‘active’ hypochondriacs; they organize people and trips & promote Sanditon.
    Susan Parker by contrast is a ‘passive’ hypochondriac- a charecter literally defined by medical malaise.
    Diana persuading Susan ‘the evil lay in her gum’ resulting in 3 teeth pulled for headache- surely did make Susan’s head ache-makes me think Diana is an original nosy Parker !
    ‘The library of course, afforded everything; all the useless things in the world which could not be done without, and among so many pretty tempatations,..’ (ch.6)
    My impression is JA speculates on consumer confusion- too much choice brings an ease of spending, dificult to check.
    I wonder if Sir Edward is a delusional charecter…
    I find it hard to believe any true gentleman could speak to a young woman like Charlotte on the novels he approves and ‘women’s captivations’ (ch.8) and retain a good name. Yet, he’s ridiculous rather than a dashing rake; and he’s clumsy attempts to seduce Clara are laughable.

    Well, this fragment of a novel has discussion for endless conjecture. :)


    1. JA’s possible commentary on consumerism… I had not thought about that. Your posts always leaves me with food for thought, Mandy N. =)

      Yes, I would agree Sir Edward is delusional… and totally lacking in finesse. But I enjoy his schoolboy antics at sentimentalism… so excruciatingly funny when it’s not directed to oneself. =P


  5. Belatedly commenting but … I wanted to be here. After reading all the latest informative posts I’ve found here let’s see what I can say about the chapters5/8.
    – I love the metaliterature aspect in these chapters: Jane Austen is not new to reflections on writing and reading, on the inlfuence of novels in people’s lives. She had done the same all through Northanger Abbey, for instance.
    – The connection between Sir Edward and the Lovelaces. Do you really think Jane would have made him as treacherous, double – faced and wicked as Robert Lovelace in Richardson’s Clarissa?
    My impression is that she had in mind a complex but comic character, a villain but … with possibilities of redemption? Someone like Willoughby in S&S but finally saved by the heroine , meaning Clara here? So far Sir Edward looks more like – as Laurel Ann said in one of her previous posts – a parody, a target of Jane’s satire, a caricature of the Lovelaces and the Willoughbys.
    If Jane only had the time to complete this novel, would Sir Edward have any chances for improvement? Might he have fallen in love with Clara, actually? Rather improbable? This is , anyhow, what I ‘d love him to become in a finished version.
    – Lady Denham. She reminds me of Lady Susan. Isn’t she as smart, shrewd, selfish, self-centred, skilled as the Jane’s first heroine? Though, she is rather direct and less polite, less diplomatic than the charming wicked Lady Susan. Lady Denham is not interested in having everyone under her spell (she lacks the physical beauty) but wants to control and dominate anyone surrounding her. We don’t know much about her so far, yet I imagine her ready to be the deus ex machina of many twists and turns to come. Maybe I’m only influenced by the story of her two buried husbands…


  6. I was going to say the same thing as Anna. I’m just starting Ch 9 and here comes Diana Parker. I do wish all the texts were the same for ease of a group read.

    Sir Edward is entertaining indeed. I like the way Lady Denham is so blunt about what he must do (which is marry for money) and yet he is intent on seducing Clara.

    I’m liking this more and more with every chapter.


  7. I enjoyed Charlotte’s musings about heroines. She obviously doesn’t see herself as one, whicj sort of reminds me of NA “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine.”

    Charlotte first sees Miss Brereton as a heroine, but is not as fanciful and imaginative to see her as a tragic heroine.

    “No, she was a very sober-minded young lady, sufficiently well-read in novels to supply her imagination with amusement, but not at all unreasonably influenced by them…”

    When I read that I felt it was a veiled comparison to Catherine Morland!


  8. I like Maria’s observation on the similarities in the Sanditon and Northanger Abbey, as they both provide a metaliterary commentary. I’ve been thinking a lot while reading on the similarities and differences between the two books. Sanditon, like Northanger, takes a young lady away from home, without her family, for the first time, but at the end of Austen’s writing career she chose to focus on a much more mature heroine – didn’t that line about Camilla almost seem directed to Catherine Morland – “She had not Camilla’s youth, and had no intention of having her distress”? Another line brought Northanger sharply to mind, when Charlotte is assessing Lady Denham, “I had not expected anything so bad, Mr. Parker spoke too mildly of her. His judgement is evidently not to be trusted. His own good nature misleads him. He is too kind-hearted to see clearly. I must judge for myself.” How different Catherine’s distress when Mr. Allen expresses his disapprobation for open carriage rides, ‘”Dear madam,” cried Catherine, “then why did not you tell me so before? I am sure if I had known it to be improper, I would not have gone with Mr. Thorpe at all; but I always hoped you would tell me, if you thought I was doing wrong.”‘ The tone of Sandition too, like Northanger, is satirical. So we have two ladies, in different stages of live (remarkable the changes one undergoes between the age of 17 and 22!), experiencing the first delights of a resort town. I think this is more than coincidence and believe Austen very much had young Catherine, full of life and innocence, in mind during her last days.


  9. Wow, the more I read, the more I wondered if Jane herself had not wanted to go to the sea for her own health. Persuasion was written towards the end of her life and I see the sea stories colliding in a way.

    I love to see how she read’s people body language and how I can envision it through her writing of the characters. I agree with a lot of your comments Mandy! I am loving this group read ladies, it’s fun to read what everyone else is getting out of it!

    Edward, Anna… what a hoot!


  10. What interests me in ‘Sandition’ is that it’s buy Jane Austen. I am such a huge fan, and absolutely adore all of her novels. I can read here for days and days and then reread some more!
    ‘Sandition’ looks like a wonderful addition to my favorite author. Story looks so interesting, written in the writing style that I prefer… that I have already fell in love at first sight!


  11. I love how in her letter Diana has no intention of visiting Sanditon. I believe she even makes a remark that such a visit could harm their health. Yet suddenly they arrive in Sanditon! How quickly her sediments change!


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