A Brilliant Continuation of an Unfinished Novel
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
It is always regrettable when a great author, composer, or artist leaves an unfinished work, especially when that work has the potential to become a masterpiece. Jane Austen began penning the novel Sanditon or, “The Brothers” as it was originally titled, during the last few months of her life. It was unfortunately abandoned around chapter eleven due to her declining health. In these precious chapters we are introduced to a new seaside resort called Sanditon, an emerging community that offers seaside pleasures such as sea-bathing and picturesque walks. In addition, this fragment is brimming with Austen’s customary array of diverting characters along with her ironic and satirical tone which is more biting and burlesque than ever!
Fortunately for us Janeites, several authors have attempted to continue this remarkable and promising fragment and have fleshed it out into a complete novel. These authors include: Julia Barrett, Helen Baker, Juliette Shapiro, and the one this review is for “Another Lady.” Another Lady (presumed to be a Marie Dobbs) continues the story of Sanditon where Jane Austen left off. Ms. Dobbs is quite excelled at capturing the satire and wicked wit of Jane Austen. Furthermore, she brilliantly maintained Jane Austen’s cleverly crafted characters and the concluded it all as if it was predesignated by Austen, herself.
If you are apprehensive about the consistency of switching authors mid-book, you need not worry. I found it very hard to decipher where Jane Austen left off and where Ms. Dobbs began. Moreover, I don’t think I have ever read any Jane Austen Fan Fiction, sequel, or para-literature that has come as close to emulating Jane Austen’s style, tone, and language as this continuation.
Our heroine, Charlotte Heywood, at the age of twenty-two, is invited to enjoy a summer holiday in Sanditon by a Mr. and Mrs. Parker, who met Charlotte as a result of their carriage accident near her home. Charlotte is a sensible and observant young woman who, occasionally, can be a little too quick in her judgments and perceptions. In Sanditon, she makes many new acquaintances with a wide variety of personalities and demeanors to practice her skills of observation and perception on such as: a family of hypochondriacs, a self-proclaimed lothario, and a lively young man who is a master at manipulating and managing his family and friends. Poor Charlotte discovers that whenever she is around this lively young man – the handsome, teasing, and charming Sidney Parker – her levelheadedness and sensibleness dissipates. It seems as though the sensible and cautious Charlotte is in for a little unexpected romance on her summer holiday…
Sanditon by Jane Austen and Another Lady is an exceptional continuation that was accomplished with great finesse, adroitness, and homage. I consider this book a MUST-read for Jane Austen fans!