5 Sanditon-inspired Novels that Complete Jane Austen’s Last Unfinished Work

Jane Austen’s last unfinished novel Sanditon ended after 22,000 words and midway into what may have been chapter twelve. Her draft manuscript was a bright beginning introducing us to the seaside town in development as a health resort and a list of over 20 characters. For anyone who has turned to the last page and reached her last lines “Mr. Hollis. poor Mr. Hollis! It was impossible not to feel him hardly used: to obliged to stand back in his own house and see the best place by the fire constantly occupied by Sir Henry Denham.” and not felt a pang of regret that you have read the last of her creative output, you are advised to read no further. For those who did, it is sad to reflect that no more would we be delighted by Jane’s Austen’s witty pen.

I readily admit after finishing the fragment that I was hooked into the story and characters and craved further development and a dénouement. The next best thing to Jane Austen’s actual words is a continuation by another author’s pen. Sanditon, even though it is not as well known as one of her six major novels, has its fair share of completions and retellings to choose from. It has the august distinction of being the first sequel or continuation attempted after Jane Austen’s death by her niece, Anna Lefroy. Unfortunately, she did not finish her novel either, but there are others who have. Here is a partial list of novels that are currently available in print with publisher’s descriptions.

Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Unfinished Masterpiece Completed, by Jane Austen and Juliette Shapiro

Had Jane Austen lived to complete Sanditon, it would undoubtedly be as famous and treasured as her other novels. But unfinished at her death, the masterpiece has remained mysterious and overlooked. Now, author Juliette Shapiro has completed Sanditon in a vivid style recognizable to any Austen fan. Here is the story of Charlotte Heywood, who has recently arrived in the town of Sanditon to enjoy the benefits of the ocean air. At first, Charlotte finds amusement enough standing at her ample Venetian window looking over its placid seafront and salubrious ocean, wind-blown linens, and sparkling sea. But there is much more to this promising little coastal resort. Before long, Charlotte discovers that scandals abound. To the delight of her eccentric host Mr. Parker, she becomes captivated by the romance of the seaside lifestyle. But is the town of Sanditon truly the haven that Mr. Parker likes to think it is, and will Charlotte Parker find happiness here?

Ulysses Press, Berkeley, CA (2009)
Trade Paperback (236) pages
ISBN: 978-1569756218

The Brothers, by Jane Austen and Another Lady (Helen Baker)

Miss Austen wrote ten chapters of a novel she called The Brothers before illness stilled her pen forever. Now, her entire draft has been incorporated into the complete story. It is hoped that the resulting romance may satisfy her myriad admirers who have long regretted that such vivid characters were left in suspense.

Lulu.com (2009)
Trade paperback (272) pages

Cure for All Diseases (Dalziel and Pascoe Series #23), by Reginald Hill

Some say that Andy Dalziel wasn’t ready for God, others that God wasn’t ready for Dalziel. Either way, despite his recent proximity to a terrorist blast in Death Comes for the Fat Man, the Superintendent remains firmly of this world. And, while Death may be the cure for all diseases, Dalziel is happy to settle for a few weeks’ care under a tender nurse.

Convalescing in Sandytown, a quiet seaside resort devoted to healing, Dalziel befriends Charlotte Heywood, a fellow newcomer, and psychologist, who is researching the benefits of alternative therapy. With much in common, the two soon find themselves in partnership when trouble comes to town.

Sandytown’s principal landowners have grandiose plans for the resort–none of which they can agree on. One of them has to go, and when one of them does, in spectacularly gruesome fashion, DCI Peter Pascoe is called in to investigate–with Dalziel and Charlotte providing unwelcome support. But Pascoe finds dark forces at work in a place where medicine and holistic remedies are no match for the oldest cure of all. Aka The Price of Butchers Meat (UK edition)

Harper Collins, New York (2008)
Trade paperback (400) pages
ISBN: 978-0007252688

Jane Austen’s Charlotte: Her Fragment of a Last Novel, Completed, by Julia Barrett

Julia Barrett, author of the Austen continuations The Third Sister and Presumption, has emerged with a literary treasure, holding true to the characters and theme designed by Ms. Austen. Set in the developing seaside town of Sanditon, it portrays a young woman from the countryside who is exposed to the sophistication and cynicism of resort life. Her name is Charlotte. With disarming charm and wit, she observes for us the array of quirky characters who reside in the booming resort-to-be.

Freshly removed from her familiar, provincial environment and exposed to England at the cusp of the nineteenth century, Charlotte encounters the wondrous Parker family, a genteel clan of dreamers and idlers. Others include the feuding Denham siblings; the ailing, yet unconscionably busy Parker sisters; and the wryly observant Emmeline Turner, a lady of literary distinction, who is astonished to find herself solicited there by those who regard her as a representative of the “better circle of society.”

The innocent but keen-witted Charlotte quickly finds herself rather deeply involved in this uproarious little town. She can’t help but get swept up in the antics of the Parkers and Denham’s, even while she is vexed and perplexed by the droll young Sidney Parker. But even the best efforts of this charming young lady may not be enough to save the budding resort town.

Originally named The Brothers by Austen and dubbed Sanditon by her family, this “new” novel promises to bring to life another Austen heroine worthy of keeping company with the likes of Elizabeth, Emma, and Anne.

M. Evans & Co, New York (2000)
Trade paperback (300) pages
ISBN: 978-0871319715

Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Last Novel Completed, by Jane Austen and Another Lady (Marie Dobbs aka Anne Telscombe)

Sanditon – an eleven-chapter fragment left at Jane Austen’s death completed with seamless artistry by an Austen aficionado and novelist – is a delightful addition to Austen’s beloved books about England’s upper-crust world and the deception, snobbery, and unexpected romances that animate it.

When Charlotte Heywood accepts an invitation to visit the newly fashionable seaside resort of Sanditon, she is introduced to a full range of polite society, from the reigning local dowager Lady Denham to her impoverished ward Clara, and from the handsome, feckless Sidney Parker to the amusing, if hypochondriacal, sisters.

A heroine whose clearly-sighted common sense in often at war with romance, Charlotte cannot help observing around her both folly and passion in many guises. But can the levelheaded Charlotte herself resist the attractions of the heart?

Scribner, New York (Simon & Schuster) (1998)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-0684843421

Not to add undue influence over which continuation you read, but I shall be reading and reviewing Sanditon, by Jane Austen and Another Lady next week. I hope others who participated in this week’s group read of Sanditon will join me. If you do not have a copy on hand you can read the transcribed text at the University of Virginia Library website.

14 thoughts on “5 Sanditon-inspired Novels that Complete Jane Austen’s Last Unfinished Work

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  1. Thanks for the list! I think I’m going to have to go see if my local bookstore has one of these as I’m dying to read a completed version.


  2. Count me in for the continuation by Another Lady, Laurel Ann! =)

    And thank you so much for hosting this group read. As usual, I had so much fun and learned a lot from all the well researched posts and everyone’s comments. You make it look easy, but I know all the hard work you put into it, LA.

    A toast to the sublime and unflappable sea-side hostess! =)


  3. I think Sanditon is interesting as it deals with the imaginations of the charecters. The story is propelled by the Parkers imagined ailments brought on by their own fancies or frustrated energies.
    Charlotte may be quick to judge but her observations reflect commonsense eg. Susan would be better off by throwing her drops and smelling salts out of the windo
    The real awful irony is the abrupt halt to the story is due to fatal illness of the author.
    As Jane loved to write I suppose if she had any idea readers would be curious of the fates of her charecters 200 years later to write continuations of Sanditon, how astonished she’d be.
    Yet, what would Jane make of each completion ? :)

    May I second the toast to our Sanditon hostess ? :-)
    Laurel Ann, many thanks to you and thanks, JulieW for great posts and resources on Regency coastal resorts.
    I am inspired by the good company to hang round to read ‘Sanditon, by Jane Austen and Another Lady’.

    But may I say the Reginald Hill book sounds like ‘Death takes a Holiday’ ? ;)


  4. I long to read the novel in a completed text.. and edited etc.. The characters are each very memorable (not just Charlotte) and I would love to read the full story!


  5. Wow! I do not have the book by Reginald Hill or Helen Baker on my Sanditon list! I need to rectify that, thank you!

    Has anyone read any continuations that they would recommend? I have read the one by Another Lady (just finished it an hour ago!) and loved it!

    Laurel Ann, thank you so very much for hosting this fantastic event! I have thoroughly enjoyed the group read, the guest blogs, and the great discussions everyone participated in. Thank you again, Laurel Ann for all your hard work and dedication!


  6. I think the mystery of any unfinished thing is exciting, especially when there is no sketch or outline even of how it might have ended! My copy stops where Jane stopped, I never thought of reading other endings, I’ll have to go search paperback Swap now and see what I can find!


  7. I loved reading Sandition by JA and the completion of it by Another Lady. Sandition ranks as second favourite novel of Austen after Persuasion. I think Sandition would have been Jane’s best loved books had she completed it along with Pride and Predjudice.

    As to another lady’s completion of Sandition, it was funny almost reading Georgette Heyer’s regency romances, esp where Charlotte is “kidnapped”. I almost thought GH had completed it!

    I did read Julia Barrett’s version of Sandition, but it failed to catch my imagination. Just my two cents.


  8. Wow, what a list to choose from, some of which I didn’t know existed until now. I’d probably choose Juliette Shapiro’s version to read.

    I was thinking about Sanditon over the weekend and I’m really wondering now if there were particular people in mind for her hypochondriac characters? Perhaps she knew of some people like neighbors or through their travels. Hmmm


  9. What a wonderful story. Where exactly was Jane headed with it, I wonder. I’ve read several completions of Sanditon, but no one will ever be Jane!

    I look forward to delving into several of these completions that I’ve never head of.


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