For real lovers of Jane Austen’s work, a completion of her unfinished Sanditon as she might possibly have envisaged it herself. No zombies or other anachronistic gimmicks, but a number of interlaced love stories set against a gently satirical picture of the fads and fancies of the times, above all the rising fashion for sea bathing and the greed and folly that accompanied it.
When Charlotte Heywood leaves her large and conservative family of Kentish landowners to stay with the Parkers in the new resort of Sanditon, she expects nothing more than a tranquil seaside holiday. She soon however becomes involved in the life of the little town, and is challenged to measure her own traditional values and tastes against those of financial speculators, affected social climbers, fashionable hypochondriacs, and followers of the new romantic ideas in the arts and human behaviour. Her initial attitude is that of an amused spectator, but soon, to her own surprise, she finds herself falling in love with her host’s younger brother, the witty and fascinating Sidney Parker. Sidney however leaves Sanditon abruptly in the company of Charlotte’s beautiful and enigmatic friend Clara Brereton, with whom Sir Edward Denham, penniless nephew of the town’s patroness and “great lady”, is in love, to his avaricious aunt’s displeasure, and the town buzzes with rumours of an elopement…
Anne Toledo has taught English Literature at university level for many years, specialising in the nineteenth-century novel in general, and in Jane Austen in particular. She is a devoted Janeite, and hopes that this story will appeal to those who share her love and appreciation of Jane Austen’s work at all levels – as romance, as humorous observation, and as moral satire, and also as a fascinating picture of daily life in middle-class England in the years immediately following the Napoleonic wars.