A Preview & Slideshow of The World of Sanditon: The Official Companion Book, by Sara Sheridan

The World of Sanditon, by Sara Sheridan (2019)Welcome to Sanditon, an 1819 Regency seaside community in Sussex England—the fictional site of the new ITV/PBS television adaptation/continuation of Jane Austen’s final unfinished novel.

For those who are watching the eight-part series currently airing in the US on PBS, The World of Sanditon, by Sara Sheridan will be catnip to heighten your addiction. A copiously illustrated behind the scenes look at the making of the new television series, it also is filled with a biography of Jane Austen, historical information on the era, seaside life and health resorts, and Regency life for women.

In addition, there are spotlights on the characters and interviews with the actors who brought them to the screen. Here is a description of the book from the publisher Grand Central Publishing, details on the content, and images from the production for your enjoyment. Continue reading “A Preview & Slideshow of The World of Sanditon: The Official Companion Book, by Sara Sheridan”

In Conversation with Janet Todd, Editor, and Essayist of Jane Austen’s Sanditon

Jane Austen's Sanditon, edited by Janet Todd (2019)I recently read and reviewed the delightful Jane Austen’s Sanditon, an excellent new edition in the crowded Austen book market whose timely release, along with the new ITV/PBS eight-part television adaptation/continuation inspired by the unfinished novel, has brought Jane Austen’s last work into the limelight. I have long followed the career of its editor, Janet Todd, and own several of her books, including the soon to be re-issued Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Times, Her Novels (February 4, 2020).

For years I have been reading about Janet’s friendship with a mutual Janeite, Diana Birchall, who was also one of my contributors on Jane Austen Made Me Do It. There is so much serendipity in this triangle of friends that I knew that I needed to get Diana and Janet together for an interview regarding her new book.

Diana tells me that she and Janet first met “in 1983, at an early Jane Austen conference at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford, and chatted away during a lovely side trip to Stoneleigh Abbey.” Okay, I wasn’t there for that one, but wish I had been. “Their conversation continued over the years between visits back and forth to California Continue reading “In Conversation with Janet Todd, Editor, and Essayist of Jane Austen’s Sanditon”

Jane Austen’s Sanditon: With An Essay by Janet Todd — A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

Sanditon, Jane Austen’s last unfinished novel is in the news. A new TV adaptation and continuation of the same name premiered in the UK on ITV on August 25, 2019. The new eight-part series was written by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice 1995) and will be shown on MASTERPIECE PBS in the US starting on January 20, 2020. Inspired by Jane Austen’s 11-and-a-half-chapter fragment, Davies claimed in an early interview that he used up all of Austen’s text in the first 30 minutes of his screenplay. That was about 24,000 words or about one-quarter of an average-sized fiction novel today. To say I was shocked by this admission is an understatement. Continue reading “Jane Austen’s Sanditon: With An Essay by Janet Todd — A Review”

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 Continue reading “5 Sanditon-inspired Novels that Complete Jane Austen’s Last Unfinished Work”

Sanditon, by Jane Austen (Hesperus Press): A Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

On the 27th of January, 1817 Jane Austen began work on a novel that is now known as Sanditon. It was never completed. Her declining health robbed her of what she dearly loved most, writing, and on the 18th of March 1817 after penning 22,000 words she wrote the last lines of chapter twelve and put down her pen. Four months later at age 41 she would succumb to what is generally believed to have been Continue reading “Sanditon, by Jane Austen (Hesperus Press): A Review”

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Sea-Bathing, a match to every disorder in the 19th-century

Why would anyone want to go into freezing cold sea water? What medical benefits were they hoping to achieve?

In Jane Austen’s novel Sanditon an entire seaside community is in development to attract visitors to a new watering place for the therapeutic or curative benefit of sea-air and sea-bathing. This involved the process of immersing yourself in freezing cold water. However unpleasant this many sound to our 21st-century sensibilities, it was strongly believed in the 18th and 19th-centuries to have strong physical benefits to a wide range of maladies. Julie at Austenonly blog has graciously investigated the 19th-century medical mindset which instigated this belief and fueled the development of the seaside resorts such as Sanditon. Please visit her great blog and discover why Mr. Parker in the novel Sanditon believes “The Sea air and Sea Bathing together were nearly infallible, one or the other of them being a match for every Disorder” and Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice thinks a little sea-bathing will set her up forever!

Further reading

Upcoming event posts

Day 6 – March 20 Review: Sanditon (Hesperus)
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions
Day 8 – March 22 Event Wrap-up

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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.

Musings

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

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Guest Blog with Mandy N. on Regency-era Seaside Fashions

Please welcome Mandy N. today as a guest blogger during ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’. Mandy is an avid collector of vintage fashion plates and has graciously offered to share some of her lovely images and chat about Regency-era fashion that I am quite certain Mr. Parker would think quite elegant enough for Sanditon.

During the Regency-era, seaside resorts were popular among fashionable society for both health cures and holidays. Jane Austen’s novels mention the resorts of Brighton, Scarborough, Cromer, Lyme and her fictional ‘Sandy ton’ or Sanditon. At resorts, fashionable visitors delighted in leisurely pleasures of promenading and seabathing amid sunshine and sea breezes. To partake of resort pleasures visitors required fashionable apparel to promenade, seabath, mingle and be seen by society. Seaside resorts also encouraged ladies to buy trinkets and shell ornaments at the circulating library similar to what Mr. Parker tries to establish at Sanditon. 

The basic seaside costume was a white muslin dress comfortable for a beach stroll and to ‘take a turn on the cliff’ (Ch.6), or dress up with accessories for a promenade. My impression is between the 1809 to 1815 seasons seaside fashion evolved. Accessories such as scarves, ribbons, shawls and reticules added blue, green or yellow colour to a white dress. Bonnets and parasols in matching colours added variety to seaside Regency costumes. ‘the most stylish girls in  the place.‘  (Ch. 11)

           

(Figure 1 left) Promenade Dress (Ackermann’s Repository 1809) shows a stylish frock for a stroll on the beach. A white muslin dress. Bonnet of plaited straw with ostrich feather, tied with ribbon. A Marine Scarf of purple silk and matching Chinese parasol of purple silk. Shoes and gloves of yellow kid. No doubt the perfect outfit to enjoy ‘the finest, purest seabreeze on the coast’ (Ch. 1) 

(Figure 2 right) Promenade or Sea Beach Costume (Ackerman’s Repository 1810). Take a turn around the cliff in natural surroundings near the resort in white muslin under an apple-green crape tunic coat with straw bonnet tied with ribbon. Chinese green silk parasol and green kid slippers. A versatile outfit to wear round the resort. 

(Figure 3) A sight to please Mr. Parker is the sight of a most fashionable young woman who knew to sit upon the seashore to enjoy sunshine and a breeze. Promenade Dress (Ackermann’s Repository 1815). A stripey pelisse with a full neck ruff and silk shawl over the shoulders. Fabric-covered bonnet with flowers. Her strapped slippers allow easier walking on a sandy shore. This Promenade Dress was fashionable in cool months. Regency society enjoyed visiting seaside resorts all year round. (Thanks Heather, for your elegant 1815 Promenade Dress)

 

(Figure 4)  Morning Dress (Ackermann’s Repository 1814). A lady sits on the beach looking out to sea.  Her robe is evening-primrose-coloured sarsanet with blonde lace. French hat of ribbons and flowers. A darker dress may not show dust or sand so much as a white dress. Fashion terms like evening primrose may’ve appealed to stylish ladies. This Morning Walking Dress has the addition of a telescope. Telescope gazing was a popular leisure with men and women at sea resorts. Like the Miss Beauforts, perhaps she- ‘looks at nothing through a telescope.‘ (Ch. 11)

         

(Figure 5 left) Walking Dress (Ackermann’s Repository 1811).  Muslin robe with a fuller sleeve and a square neckerchief in folds. Amber sarsenet coat. A mountain hat with flower, oranmented with white crape (her hair folds beneath the white crape). Half-boots of buff kid and a crimson reticule. This outfit for a seaside stroll appears more sophisticated than dresses of 1809-1810 seasons. Personally, I love the background and beach activity in this costume plate! 

(Figure 6 right) Walking Dress (Ackermann’s Repository 1815). Exemplifies a costume worn by the seashore at time of Sanditon. A high muslin dress of short waking length trimmed with treble flounces and full ruff of French style. Long sleeve with wristband over the hand. French bonnet of white satin edged with blue ribbon and a plume of feathers. Mantle of silk embroidered with silks. Silk stockings, gloves and slippers of blue kid. Blue shoes? Civilization indeed!  ‘Who would have expected such a sight at a shoemaker’s in old Sanditon!’ (Ch. 4)  But did she buy her large, large bonnet from Jebbs? 

         

(Figure 7 left) Promenade Half Full Dress (La Belle Assemblee 1810). An ensemble fit for an heiress to stroll upon the Terrace. A muslin dress with long sleeves and low neck. French scarf of yellow silk. Note the lace veil on the yellow silk bonnet to protect a lady’s complexion, or, if she is ill protection from unwanted public gaze upon the Terrace. Parasol of light yellow & white fringe. Gloves and shoes of yellow kid.  Likely, such fashion was seen at large, fashionable resorts. ‘the Terrace was the attraction to all; everybody who walked, must begin with the Terrace.’ (Ch. 7) 

(Figure 8 right) Promenade Costume (Ackermann’s Repository 1812). A muslin robe with long sleeves, simple collar and brooch. Amber sash, rosary and cross necklace. Gloves and shoes of yellow kid. Her hat is trimmed with white ribbons. I wonder if she reads a book of poetry? ‘Upon the Terrace with the Parkers and Denhams, sat Clara Brereton.’ She is known to wear white ribbons.

(Figure 9) ‘Two females in elegant white.’ (Ch. 4) Promenade or Sea Beach Costumes (Ackermann’s Repository 1810). First figure: White muslin gown, a tunic of pink sarsanet with cording up front. Straw hat tied with white ribbon. A founding lace cap with flowers. Muslin cloak and head-dress of square veil of French lace. Gloves and pink slippers. Second figure: A white muslin robe and cloak of fine muslin. Headdress with a square veil of lace accented with a brooch. Gloves and amber slippers. Lace veils probably protected a lady’s face from sun and wind on the beach. The outfits appear loose and comfortable for around the resort wear. ‘The sea air and sea bathing together were nearly infallible’ (Ch. 2)

(Figure 10) Sea Bathing Costume (La Belle Assemblee 1815). A pelisse of green-white silk with fringes. Leghorn hat with feathers. Green and white striped half boots. At seaside resorts, ladies could parade in style enjoying the purest seabreeze by the dancing sea. Yet, promenading was not the only leisure. Sea resorts were famed by society for the novelty of sea cures and seabathing. ‘Here began the descent to the beach, and to the bathing machines-and this was therefore the favourite spot for beauty and fashion.’ (Ch. 4) This fashion plate features a lady strolling in seabathing costume to the beach in to the seabathing machines to change and enter the water in privacy. Seabathing machines can be seen on the lower right side of the fashion plate. The advantage of this costume was a lady could quickly dress or undress. Does she carry a muslin slip in her bag? The most fastidious belle could not find a more becoming Bathing Costume. I wonder if this lady bathes for leisure or sea cure? In the novel, active hypochondriac Diana Parker appears a regular seabather, so presumably owns a Bathing Costume. She intends ‘to enourage Miss Lambe in taking her first dip…and go in the machine with her if he wishes it.‘ (Ch. 12)  

In the Regency-era seabathing was the motive to improve one’s health, but socializing and fashion appear as important as any sea cure. As we see in these fashion plates from the Ladies Journals of the era, it is apparent that they catered to the novelty of fashion by the sea. To realistically display Walking Dresses or a Sea Bathing Costumes, beach or cliff scenes were popular as background on fashion plates. To a fashionable lady, the picture may convey not only the infallible delights of finery but the delight of visiting a resort for ‘the sea, dancing and sparkling in sunshine and freshness.’ (Ch. 4)

For people not yet drowned by seaside images, you can check the wallpaper gallery at Solitary Elegance. The August wallpaper features two Regency seaside mother & child plates and a quote from Sanditon for your enjoyment.

Many thanks to Mandy N. for all her work scanning images and researching the text. Bravo!

Further reading

Upcoming event posts

Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 6 – March 20 Review: Sanditon (Hesperus)
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions
Day 8 – March 22 Event Wrap-up

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Worthing, the inspiration for Sanditon?

Eastbourne vs. Worthing? As we continue to explore Jane Austen’s last unfinished novel Sanditon it is interesting to ponder what Jane Austen used to model her emerging seaside resort of Mr. Parker’s creation. Julie at Austenonly presents a strong argument for the resort for Worthing in Sussex, also an emerging seaside resort in the early 1800’s that Austen visited with her family.

“There has been much speculation about Jane Austen’s inspiration for the town of Sanditon: was the place completely  imaginary or did she base it on a resort with which she was familiar? Eastbourne in Sussex has been mooted as a candidate, though as far as I am aware, Jane Austen is not recorded as ever having visited that town.

But she is recorded as having visited Worthing, another Sussex resort, and this definitely has possibilities for being her template for the developing resort of Sanditon.”

Visit Austenonly, Julie’s excellent blog to discover the evidence in support of her theory and decide for yourself. 

Upcoming event posts

Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 6 – March 20 Review: Sanditon (Hesperus)
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions
Day 8 – March 22 Events Wrap-up

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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.

Musings

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

By the Seaside with Sanditon: Sir Edward Denham’s Sentimental Stirrings about the Sea & Seduction

He began, in a tone of great taste and feeling, to talk of the sea and the sea shore; and ran with energy through all the usual phrases employed in praise of their sublimity and descriptive of the undescribable emotions they excite in the mind of sensibility. The terrific grandeur of the ocean in a storm, its glass surface in a calm, its gulls and its samphire and the deep fathoms of its abysses, its quick vicissitudes, its direful deceptions, its mariners tempting it in sunshine and overwhelmed by the sudden tempest — all were eagerly and fluently touched; rather commonplace perhaps, but doing very well from the lips of a handsome Sir Edward, and she could not but think him a man of feeling, till he began to stagger her by the number of his quotations and the bewilderment of some of his sentences. Sanditon, Chapter 7

Jane Austen’s anti-hero in Sanditon, Sir Edward Denham, Baronet of Denham Park is a bit of rake and a rattle. He is prone to long inflated speeches in the most pompous and affected style all in an attempt to reinforce his own notion that he is a romantic character born to seduce women “quite in the line of Lovelaces.” Lovelace refers to the villain Robert Lovelace in Samuel Richardson’s 1748 novel Clarissa who rapes and ruins the young heroine. With Sir Edward, Austen is poking fun at the dramatic and sentimental heroes and villains of the novels of her times.  

During his speech to Charlotte Heywood, he rambles on about the sea describing in quite unoriginal phrases its “terrific grandeur” of glass surface, gulls and samphire. When I originally read the novel years ago, I had no idea what samphire was, what significance it had and why Jane Austen used as and example of describing the sea. Understanding the cultural context of Austen’s novels can be so enlightening and I asked Julie of Austenonly, a fellow Austen enthusiast and expert on the era to explain it all for me. She has graciously obliged and you can read her excellent post on samphire at her blog.

In addition to his rattling’s about the sea we are treated to his lengthy effusions on poets as he incorrectly attributes Scott to have written about the sea, which Charlotte quickly corrects him on.

“Do you remember”, said he, “Scott’s beautiful Lines on the Sea? — Oh! what a description they convey! — They are never out of my Thoughts when I walk here. — That Man who can read them unmoved must have the nerves of an Assassin! — Heaven defend me from meeting such a Man un-armed.”  

“What description do you mean?”, said Charlotte. “I remember none at this moment, of the Sea, in either of Scott’s Poems.”

“Do not you indeed? — Nor can I exactly recall the beginning at this moment.”  Ch 6

This blunder does not deter him in the least and he continues quoting other poets: Burns, Montgomery and Campbell. Our observant heroine is having none of it and calls him out again.

“I have read several of Burns’ Poems with great delight”, said Charlotte, as soon as she had time to speak, “but I am not poetic enough to separate a Man’s Poetry entirely from his Character; — & poor Burns’s known Irregularities greatly interrupt my enjoyment of his Lines. — I have difficulty in depending on the Truth of his Feelings as a Lover. I have not faith in the sincerity of the affections of a Man of his Description. He felt & he wrote & he forgot.” Ch 8

One wonders if Charlotte has learned that Sir Edward’s “known irregularities greatly interrupt” her enjoyment of his speech? She has difficulty believing the truth of Burns’ poetry because of his personal life. A man’s actions reflect upon his reputation and character. I love the parallel between what she describes as Burns’ faults, “He felt & he wrote & he forgot” with Sir Edward’s want of being a seducer, who we well know are all about the conquest and not the results or consequences!

More on the insincere and insalubrious Sir Edward Denham as he expounds upon “The mere Trash of the common Circulating Library” when ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’ continues this week.

Upcoming event posts

Day 4 – March 18 Group read Chapters 5-8
Day 5 – March 19 Regency seaside fashions
Day 6 – March 20 Group Read Chapters 9-12
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions

On the Trail of Sanditon: The History of the Manuscript

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

“She continued to work at it as long as she could work at all.” James Edward Austen-Leigh (1871) 

On the 27th January, 1817 Jane Austen began work on a novel that is now known as Sanditon. It was never completed. She was gravely ill, and after a brief period of remission, her condition worsened until “her mind could no longer pursue its accustomed course” 1 and on the 18th of March 1817 after penning Continue reading “On the Trail of Sanditon: The History of the Manuscript”

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