Sandition is Jane Austen’s last work, unfinished before her death in 1817 and originally published in 1925. Mr. and Mrs. Parker have begun a development off the coast not too far from London that they have named Sandition. They believe it will be the next ‘it’ town, it is where they have made their home and they are actively recruiting distinguished families to live (or at least vacation) amongst them and spend their money at the new settlement. One day while traveling the pair have an accident in their carriage and Mr. Parker suffers a sprain. Luckily they are met by Mr. Heywood and are cared for by his family. Mr. Parker tells them all about Sandition and invites them for a visit. The Heywoods decline, sighting that there are always towns of these shorts springing up everywhere and that they don’t particularly like to leave their home, but send along their daughter Charlotte. When she arrives she finds that there are not many families there. The Parkers also seem dismayed that they are unsuccessful in recruiting new inhabitants or at least seaside vacationers. Over the few days that she is there guests begin to trickle in. And the observant Charlotte begins to deconstruct them all in what seems to be Austen’s beginnings of a social commentary.
I suppose I am going about reading Austen’s work a bit backward. This is only my second Austen novel after having read Persuasion last year. I’ve read that Sandition has been completed by “another lady”. I have not read her completion of this work. The Hesperus edition is simply Austen’s words and it sadly ends just as the story is beginning. We don’t really know what will happen and there really seem to be no hints but it some ways it is nice to guess. There are many different characters being introduced in the 12 chapters Austen penned. All of which seem to have drastically different personalities and backgrounds. Charlotte seems like she would have been the star of this book. And then there is a Mr. Sidney Parker who we heard only a bit about and who appears at Sandition just as the snippet of a novel ends. He is of course young, handsome, and expected to liven the place up.
I received this book for review from Hesperus Press via the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. An elegant little edition with french flaps. I’m still pondering the bird on the front. I have another book The Calligraphers’ Night published by Hesperus with an equally nice design that I want to read this week.