Friday, February 21, 2014

Sanditon (by Jane Austen and "Another Lady")

[Note: This is a completion of Jane Austen's novel fragment Sanditon, done by Marie Dobbs and published in 1975. There are a few other continuations and completions out there, but this is the one people seemed to like the most.]

This was super, super enjoyable.  The first 11 or so chapters are Austen's rough draft and scene setting for the novel, and after that, Marie Dobbs picked it up. I have to say that this worked remarkably well for the most part. The setting (an up-and-coming seaside town) is weirdly un-Austen-like, with its talk of bathing machines and such, but that was set up by Austen herself and makes for a really interesting complement to her other novels, where people talk about going to Bath or Brighton but we rarely get to see what goes on there. (Persuasion still seems quite drawing roomy to me, whereas in Sanditon everyone is always hanging out on the beach or in tea rooms.)

There is some stuff in the second half that Austen would never, never do. The Sir Edward plotline goes off the rails totally when it starts to get rapey. Charlotte loses her head far more than any of Austen's other heroines. But the story in and of itself is great fun, the romance is satisfying, the characters are terrific, the actual writing is smooth. I love Austen, and obviously nobody can truly compare to her. But I am really really glad I read this. And it would make an excellent movie. 

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