Sanditon Group Read Chapters 9-12: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day Six Giveaway

It was impossible for Charlotte not to suspect a good deal of fancy in such an extraordinary state of health. Disorders and recoveries so very much out of the common way seemed more like the amusement of eager minds in want of employment than of actual afflictions and relief. The Narrator, Ch 9

Quick Synopsis

Charlotte believes the Parkers ailments are imaginary. Diana makes arrangements for Mrs. Griffiths even though not asked to do so. Charlotte meets Susan and Arthur Parker. One is worn by illness and medicine, the other does not look ill at all. Arthur is engrossed in eating buttered toast and cocoa. Mrs. Griffiths arrives in Sanditon bringing only three young ladies. One is a Miss Lambe a sickly heiress that Lady Denham thinks will do for Sir Edward. Charlotte and Mrs. Parker walk to Sanditon House. Charlotte sees Clara Brereton and Sir Edward secretly meeting. Lady Denham seems put out by their arrival. Clara returns and lies about her delay. Sir Edward arrives unaffected. Charlotte realizes that they deceive Lady Denham who would not approve of their match. Sir Edward extols upon the virtues of sea-bathing and encouraging both ladies to try it. Charlotte realizes that her first impression of Sir Edward and Lady Denham were not true. She and Mrs. Parker walk home. Talk of Sidney Parker catches her off guard.


Charlotte meets the two additional Parker siblings, Susan and Arthur. Visiting there lodgings is like entering a sick ward. The windows are closed and the fire is blazing even though it is a fine summer day. It does not take Charlotte long to conclude that their ailments are imagined fancy since there is a discrepancy with the activity they are about and their hypochondria talk. Diana is running all over town in preparation of Mrs. Griffiths’ arrival and Susan has relocated the three of them from the hotel to lodging moving heavy boxes herself. “It would seem that they must either be very busy for the good of others or else extremely ill themselves.” Arthur appears in good health, though he needs to sit by the fire to ward away damp sea air and his rheumatism. As Charlotte becomes better acquainted with the Parkers medical maladies we begin to really see Austen making fun of people attaching illness as an identity. This family revolves around illness or activity. Such a dichotomy! The bit with Arthur’s speech about toasting bread and sneaking butter behind his sisters was hysterical. This is truly burlesque comedy. Who does not know someone who secretly eats or has done so themselves? Ha!

Miss Lambe was beyond comparison the most important and precious, as she paid in proportion to her fortune. She was about seventeen, half mulatto, chilly and tender, had a maid of her own, was to have the best room in the lodgings, and was always of the first consequence in every plan of Mrs. Griffiths. The Narrator Ch 10

All the wheels of communication behind Diana’s efforts to bring two large families to Sanditon end in embarrassment for her. There is only one Mrs. Griffiths of Camberwell and the West Indians are one Miss Lambe, a sickly heiress that neatly fills Lady Denham’s requirements for a wife for Sir Edward. Her practical nature regrets the long journey from Hampshire, a brother disappointed, an expensive house for a week rented, “and worse than all the rest, the sensation of her knowing that she was not clear-sighted and infallible as she had believed herself.” It did not trouble her for long. Besides Miss Lambe, Mrs. Griffiths brings only two other young ladies with her. Austen describes the two Miss Beauforts as “common as any young ladies in the kingdom with tolerable complexions and showy figures, very accomplish and very ignorant.” This made me laugh out loud. She is mocking what young English ladies are raised to be by showing how shallow they are. Their true ambitions are only the pursuit of admiration by men and the accumulation of fashion in order to captivate some man of better fortune than their own. Ouch! Is Charlotte the only character of virtue in this novel? I do not think I have ever seen Austen dig so deep into human imperfections than in Sanditon!

Among other points of moralising reflection which the sight of this tete-a-tete produced, Charlotte could not but think of the extreme difficulty which secret lovers must have in finding a proper spot for their stolen interviews. The Narrator Ch 11

Charlotte plans to visit Lady Denham at Sanditon House for the first time with Mrs. Parker. Always the salesman, Mr. Parker wants his wife to turn the social call into business opportunity and solicit Lady Denham for a charity cause. His sister Diana, always churning alway at some activity for others has a long list of charities that she would like Mrs. Parker to ask her Ladyship to contribute to also. Now, Mrs. Parker is a very biddable sort of woman, but even she has her limits retorting that she “could no more mention these things to Lady Denham than I could fly.” I did not expect that reaction at all. I love it when Austen has characters react in the opposite of what we are expecting. This point is proved further when Charlotte sees a secret assignation between Clara Brereton and Sir Edward Denham. I expected this from Sir Edward who fancies himself in the “line of a Lovelace,” but not of Clara. What does she have to gain from their relationship? She is an impoverished cousin serving at Lady Denham’s whim. To endanger her relationship with her would be foolish. She seems smart. What does she see in him? Charlotte is puzzled also. “The connection between Clara and Sir Edward was as ambiguous in some respects as it was plain in others.” She seems to abhor their deceit yet sympathize with their plight. “To be continually at the mercy of such an old lady’s whims struck Charlotte as being particularly hard upon a young couple.” Is Austen being purposely ambiguous also?

Still extolling the pleasures of bathing, he sought to entertain them with his longest syllables and most edifying sentences. “To plunge into the refreshing wave and be wrapped round with the liquid element is indeed a most delightful sensation,” he assured them. “But health and pleasure may be equally consulted in these salutary ablutions; and to many a wan countenance can the blush of the rose be restored by an occasional dip in the purifying surge of the ocean.” Now, he hastened to add, trying to bow to them both at the same time, “that either of my fair listeners would need the rose restored to their lovely cheeks.” Sir Edward Denham, Ch 12

Well, there is definitely nothing ambiguous about Sir Edward and his continued foppery and nonsense speeches. His choice of sensual words to two young ladies is most inappropriate, oozing total seduction. How can any woman, no anyone take him seriously? In comparison to Austen’s other bounders, rakes and rattles, he is like a toady Mr. Collins preaching the efficacy of love instead of religion. Our heroine Charlotte sees right through him. The rest of the community, not so much. The only other person who has the potential to set things in balance with his honest opinions, neat equipage and fashionable air is Sidney Parker, who shall sadly remain the mystery hero of Austen’s oeuvre.

Favorite words

superfluity, circuitous, hitherto, efficacy, dross, perturbation, solicitude, importunate, assignation and assiduously.

Further reading

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Day 6 Giveaway

Enter a chance to win one copy of Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Unfinished Masterpiece Completed, by Jane Austen and Juliette Shapiro 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 6 – March 20 Review: Sanditon (Hesperus)
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions
Day 8 – March 22 Event Wrap-up

© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

29 thoughts on “Sanditon Group Read Chapters 9-12: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day Six Giveaway

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  1. Laurel Ann – I am a bit confused. According to my Penguin Classics version of Sanditon, the last line of chapter twelve is, “Poor Mr. Hollis! lt 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.” It’s an image I have long obsessed over. I noticed that the etext you recommended included the completion performed by “Another Lady” (and really, the work is done flawlessly), switching between Austen’s writing and her’s mid chapter eleven, well before Miss Brereton and Lord Denham return to the Hall from their secret assignation, thereby giving Charlotte the opportunity to analyze their behavior and listen to Lord Denham’s approbation for sea bathing. I know we encountered the chapter numbering issue before and seemed to have resolved it, but could you confirm where exactly Austen stopped writing?


    1. ACK! You are totally correct. I just pulled out my Oxford editon of Sanditon and it does end with the passage regarding Mr. Hollis that you mentioned. When reading the Univeristy of Virginia online text very late last night, and yes it was in the very wee hours, I noticed that there were listed chapters beyond 12 for Sanditon. I investigated and matched the text to my other book Sanditon by Jane Austen and Another Lady and it matched. Imagine my surprise and humilation that a library with the acclaim of U of V had transcribed the coninuation text and not JA’s original! My apologies to all. I must ammend my post.

      I must say the the author Another Lady aka Marie Dobbs so seamlessly continued chapter 12 that I had no idea in my late night haze that I was reading another author. I am reading this continuation next, so am quite impressed that she conned this Austen enthusiast with out the slightest suspicion!

      Like Diana Parker I am totally embarassed by my blunder “and worse than all the rest, the sensation of her knowing that she was not clear-sighted and infallible as she had believed herself.”

      Thanks for pointing this out Alexa.


      1. If anything, I take this as confirmation of the greatness of Miss Dobbs’ (I never knew her name before!) continuation, which is actually the text that initially opened my mind to Austen fan fiction. She did a phenomenal job matching Austen’s style.


  2. Count me as confused too! Mine’s the same as Alexa’s and I’m reading the Oxford edition.

    I just finished and I must say I liked it. I now need to find a completed version because I want to find out how the story unfolds, even if it’s not Jane Austen’s own.

    Arthur annoyed me, but then sickly people that aren’t really all that sick do. I just wanted to shove him out into the open air and make him exercise or do something, instead of moping and eating!


  3. Do you anything about what Miss Lambe’s place in society would have been? Would she have been openly accepted being mixed raced?


    1. Edit my first question to read: Do you know anything about what Miss Lambe’s place in society would have been?


      1. Much the same as any heiress, I think. Lady Denham quickly visited Mrs Griffiths to see Miss Lambe; and decides ‘here was the very young lady,sickly and rich, whom she had been asking for…Sir Edward’s sake’ (ch.11)
        So Lady Denham, herself a social climber, does not mind the idea of rich, chilly, tender Miss Lambe being the next Lady Denham.


    2. That’s a good question, Danielle. Is Miss Lambe the only character of mixed race among Jane Austen’s works? I don’t recall any other… happy to be corrected, of course…

      Miss Lambe’s description as a half-Mulatto also jumped out at me and I also wonder if this another indication that Jane was expanding her social commentaries. Lady Denham is a lady of consequence in Sandition, but not of breeding nor education. So, is her easy acceptance of Miss Lambe as a proper wife for Edward to be valued or ridiculed?


      1. Now, that is a good question on Lady Denham; I suspect in highest London circles Lady Denham wouldn’t be as accepted like, say, Bingleys’ sisters whose fortunes came from trade. Yet, they were educated in an expensive ladies’ seminary where they wouldv’e made friends with girls of good families. They were also highly accomplished musicans. Young ladies worked at their accomplishements to attract suitors.
        Social acceptibility may depend on Miss Lambe’s other attractions; if she ‘exhibits’ accomplishments in e.g singing or on harp, she may attract attention of society. Also, if she has good family connections, she may be considered a suitable heiress in the family- even if she settled for a younger son of a Lord.
        Admittedly, I am speculating alot.
        You make a valid point on Lady Denham; she may be shrewd but shortsighted in her hurry to see Edward marry a fortune.

        Actually, I’ve read one theory Jane decided to make Miss Lambe part-Mulatto, as a response to her own illness; in her last months her complexion had dark patches, but I am unsure what to make of that idea.


        1. Appreciate your response and speculations, Mandy N. =)

          But that is a bizarre theory as to why Jane would make Miss Lambe half-Mulatto… Jane’s characters were semi-autobiographical, but I think this is taking it too literally?


          1. When I first came across the passage mentioning Miss Lambe as Mulatto, it raised an eyebrow and a question. One speculates that her father or mother was English and had a sugar plantation in the West Indies? Jane Austen’s brothers were stationed in the Caribbean so she would have had first hand insights to the culture. Making Miss Lambe Mullato is an interesting choice. Another example of how English society overlooked anything if you were rich or is she showing how their society was evolving to accept mixed races? Even Lady Denham who is not one for change unless it will make her some money accepted her as a prospect for her in-law Sir Edward. Food for thought.

            The theory on Austen choosing a Mulatto heiress to represent her illnes is a bit wild. Mandy is often well informed so I will take this in and ponder it.


            1. Laurel Ann, I can’t recall where I read a part-Mulato heiress was Jane’s response to her illness, or I’d cite the reference.
              I’m not sure I accept this idea myself.
              Nor am I one for ‘interesting theories’ drawn from subtext. ;)
              I prefer to regard Miss Lambe as a possible response by JA’s to Emancipation.
              Yet, we never ever meet Miss Lambe.

              In MP, Fanny Price asks her uncle Sir Thomas a question on emancipation and, if I recall, he does not reply to her.


              1. One thinks of another mulatto lady of English literature – Miss Swatz of Vanity Fair. Her wealth makes her company coveted by those of the middle class, but she is always referred to as the mulatto. While I can see Lady Denham overlooking her background in her quest to snare Sir Denham an heiress, I’m not sure that members of the ton would have been quite as enthused.

                Bertha Mason also comes to mind, though she is half creole, not mulatto. Nevertheless, anyone not purely English was certainly questionable, and the fact that Bronte make a half-creole the mad woman in Rochester’s attic says much about the 19th century British conception of “otherness”.


  4. I lauged out loud at Arthur’s bread buttering scene! Austen is too much!!

    Earlier someone made the connection that Charlottte is a little like Fanny Price in that she observes all that is happening around her. I’m definitely seeing that in these last chapters. And how astute and shrewed an observer she is!


  5. I would love to win this continuation of Sanditon. I’ve read the version by Another Lady, and while it’s good fun, it gets pretty silly towards the end. So, I’m ready to take another run at it.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Mr. Parker–there’s something pathetically endearing to me about his blind enthusiasm for his spa project, and I’ve always felt so sorry for Mrs. Parker, having to leave her snug, comfortable house for that newfangled one that gets buffeted by the winds.


  6. LA – thanks for clearing up the Univ of Virginia chapters – I posted a similar question on FB that probably got over looked earlier this week. One can only wonder what the true Chapter 13 would have been?

    I can’t believe we’re done with her work already! But you nailed it ~ ‘Is Charlotte the only character of virtue in this novel? I do not think I have ever seen Austen dig so deep into human imperfections than in Sanditon!’ The major theme being of the hypochondriacs really shows off how people used their ‘condition’ to get attention.. hence like Mary in Persuasion. Charlotte and Sidney’s relationship is moving very fast. I only WISH we knew the direction she was going with them.

    But in the end I think I’ve changed my mind now to my favorite character being Edward ~ he is just so full of himself and long winded! ha ha A great irony to have the last laugh and someone Jane probably had known in real life!


    1. Oh Janeen, if only I had read your warning on FaceBook it would have saved me from egg on my face. Everyone has been very gracious about my horrible blunder. To fix it required finding where Austen’s text ended and Another Lady’s began and more edits to my pages on chapter summaries and quotes. Not sure I should edit this blog post for the group read though because no one’s comments will make any sense. I am sure somewhere an Austen scholar is laughing at me, if they even read my drivel! Some Austen enthusiast I am! I have evolved into Diana Parker!


  7. Thanks for the clarification about Sir Edward’s quotation. For a second there, I thought my memory was failing me yet again since I couldn’t recall reading that part. But I am the more intrigued with Another Lady’s continuation (which I bought last week) and can’t wait to read what happens to these fascinating characters, even in someone else’s hands.

    I would have to agree with Janeen, Laurel Ann, that you have nailed it saying: ‘I do not think I have ever seen Austen dig so deep into human imperfections than in Sanditon!’ =) Indeed, no one escapes the sharp point of Jane’s quill, even in just these 12 chapters.

    Jane’s description of the Miss Beauforts also made me laugh out loud. I would have dearly loved to see how Jane would have developed the impossibility of juxtaposing accomplishment and ignorance side-by-side. ;P

    As I have posted previously, Sir Edward remains my favorite because to me, he IS Mr. Collins and Willoughby rolled into one… someone that would be amusing to meet. ;)

    One aspect that I’ve been questioning is the true nature of the relationship between the Miss Diana Parker and Mr Tom Parker. At the surface, they couldn’t be more than happy and eager to be in each other’s service. Yet, I sense there is an uneasy undertone. Three points:

    1. This is the first time the Miss Diana has been to Sanditon. And it is not at the urging of Mr. Parker, but for the sake of a Mrs. Griffiths and a Miss Lambe whom she bears no relation to nor has ever met. Does she have an ulterior motive? There seems to be more than meets the eye.

    2. Why are the Miss Parkers and Arthur lodged elsewhere and not at Trafalgar House? Doesn’t Charity begin at home, as Lady Denham would say? ;)

    3. Then, there is the incident about proposing subscriptions to Lady Denham… Mr Tom’s deft silencing of the impropriety of his sister’s presumptuous propositions speaks of an exasperation that he keeps hidden quite well.

    Anyone else felt this or am I just reading too much into this?


    1. RegencyRomantic – clever girl. I did think it odd that the Parker siblings were not guests at their brothers house, but the went over my head. These are great relationship clues into the Parker family dynamics. You should be a detective. More hints to how Austen would have developed the plot I imagine. We shall see in the continuation by Another Lady if she was a perceptive as you and ran with these to develop her plot. ;-)


  8. Regency, I can relate with your questions! I too wonder at MANY things as to what direction Jane would take plot lines and characters in future chapters of her mind. Not reading too much… it’s just that we want to keep reading! :)


    1. That you are right, Janeen. I didn’t think I would be so hooked after only 12 chapters… but I should have not expected less from dear Jane. =)

      And so, I have promptly gone out and bought the continuation by Maria Dobbs. Let’s hope some of my questions get resolved.


  9. And speaking of human imperfections, what do we make of Miss Austen’s picture of Arthur Parker ?
    -‘the more wine I drink in moderation, the better I am’. (ch.10) . As Charlote observes, Arthur is of sodden complexion, stout, ‘broad made and lusty’- JA defines him in physical terms with drinking habits similar to similar to John Thorpe. (NA)
    I also LOL ! at Arthr thickly buttering his toast;- but his comment on ‘the coats of the stomach’ Eww !
    yet, I get the impression Arthur’s charecter with his enjoyments of invalidism is a burlesque on the hypochondriac. …but Arther seems almost shocked Charlotte would take green tea;
    ‘Do you venture upon two dishes of strong green tea in one evening ? -What nerves you must have!-how I envy you.-” To Arthur green tea is a paralyzing poison.
    Poor Arthur Parker, what an imagination; ‘The Parkers were no doubt a family of imagination and quick felings’. (ch.10)
    Or, maybe he is courting sympathy of Charlotte ?
    Jane, your tongue is as sharp as a knife. ;D

    I must say, I do feel sorry for non-invalide Mrs Parker. I felt Diana put much upon her with her list of charities. Why doesn’t Diana make her own appeals to Lady Denham ? I did notice Mr Parker seemed to realize his wife felt abit pressured by these appeals and withdrew his own effectively shutting up his sister… but till now, I didn’t realize this may signify some tension between Mr Parker and Diana- I agree with youRegencyRomantic, I don’t think you read too much into it at all.
    We will never know how Jane intended to develop their relationship but maybe whilst Miss Diana and Mr Parker are both keen to promote Sanditon, increase the family fortune and benevolently’ mean well’ ; they may each enjoy controlling too much to actually be close; she is more like her brother’s agent. Good question; I’ve just noticed when Diana announces she meant to get lodgings; Mr Parker does not suggest they stay at Trafalgar House. (ch.9)-he doesn’t want her in close proximity or knows Mary will be uncomfortable with Diana staying in the house ?
    Actually, Diana should know the area Sanditon as Mr Parker says he grew up in the old house with his brothers and sisters.
    Diana really seems to enjoy supervising people-their diets & medical cures; sea dipping in the machine, Susan’s leeches, teeth pulled. Uhhh !
    Maybe she wants to be useful -or does Diana enjoy the infliction of pain ? ;)


    1. I’m a little more uncomfortable with Jane’s portrait of Arthur as a glutton than that of Edward as a fumbling libertine. Avarice just turns me off, I guess. But I wonder if Arthur does get his redemption since Jane intended this work to be titled ‘The Brothers’? How and who will redeem him?

      Yes, I had quite forgotten that Diana also grew up in their snug old house… but I get the impression that ever since Tom’s venture into promoting Sanditon as a new resort place-to-be, Diana hasn’t actually been to Sanditon… that it’s her first time to step into Trafalgar House? That just strikes me as odd and evidence that they are not as close as they seem to portray to others…

      Ooh, shuddering thought about Diana… a sadist in the midst of hypochondriacs and true invalids… Oh, heaven help Miss Lambe! ;)


  10. All we needed was Mrs. Bennett saying “Oh, my nerves!” LOL

    I would have loved to know Jane Austen’s plans for the hypochondriac Parkers. They certainly are an entertaining bunch.

    Of all the Austen works I’ve read, I think the characters in Sanditon were the most unique and all over the place. I was a bit depressed when it abruptly ended, even though I was anticipating it.



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