jane austen house sandition feature

A Book By Jane Austen… And Another Lady?

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ON OUR BOOKSHELVES

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NOVEL: Sanditon

AUTHOR: Jane Austen and Another Lady

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1975

REVIEW:

This year marks the 200th anniversary since Jane Austen’s untimely death at the age of 41. Austen left the world six complete novels. Delightful as they are, no Janeite can help but wishing there were more. Many other authors have attempted to imitate her style, but no one has quite succeeded, although there are some rather entertaining adaptions and continuations. The one imitator I think is the most successful at matching Austen’s tone, diction, and humor, remains anonymous, having modestly called herself “Another Lady” in her 1975 completion of the unfinished novel, Sanditon.

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Read it and see if you can spot the break…the place in the book where Austen left off and Another Lady took over. I had no idea, myself, so seamless was the transition.

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Suffice to say that Austen sets the scene: the heroine, Charlotte Heywood, young, inexperienced, sweet, and lovely, in a bit over her head, dealing with fashionable society in a small town. There is an impoverished but beautiful girl, a poor relation to the wealthy and arrogant dowager, Lady Denham. There’s a sickly young heiress, and quite a few self-declared invalids (who seem quite healthy and strong when convenient, however). There are some handsome young men, not all of good character. Charlotte’s host, Mr. Parker, is busy with plans to improve and modernize the town into a resort destination, having installed bathing machines to attract vacationers.

Then, Another Lady runs with it: Ms. Heywood falls in love, hides her feelings (or certainly attempts to), makes a few errors of judgment, tries to uncover some secrets and schemes, has some adventures, deals with rivals, and eventually, “the staid and sensible Charlotte…walk[s] off with the most eligible bachelor of the season under their elegant and disdainful noses.” As we all knew she would–it’s a Jane Austen novel after all, and the virtuous, intelligent, and kind are always appropriately rewarded.

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RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best: 3 1/2 Whistles

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HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

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Lead-In Image (Jane Austen Memorial House Museum, Chawton, England) Courtesy of PhotoFires / Shutterstock.com

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com

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