“Sanditon” by Jane Austen and Kate Riordan, review

Dear all,

I am very happy to be able to share with you my opinion of Sanditon by Jane Austen and Kate Riordan based on Andrew Davies’ TV adaptation/continuation of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel written in 1817. First of all, I have to admit that I have not read Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, therefore my review is purely about the book by Kate Riordan. Therefore, if you are a “purist” who does not like people to change Jane Austen’s words or characters or style, you will not like this book. However, if you are like me that you enjoy Jane Austen Fan Fiction, variations, what ifs, prequels, sequels, etc. give it a go!

Apologies for posting my review late, work this week was intense and I could not make it. Thank you to Kate Riordan and Grand Central Publishing for counting on me for this tour and for providing me with the lovely books: Sanditon and The Works of Sanditon: the official companion. Thank you Laurel Ann Nattress for organising the blog tour.

Enjoy the blurb of the book:

In the vein of Downton Abbey, Jane Austen’s beloved but unfinished masterpiece-often considered her most modern and exciting novel-gets a spectacular second act in this tie-in to a major new limited television series.

Written only months before Austen’s death in 1817, Sanditon tells the story of the joyously impulsive, spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her spiky relationship with the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!) Sidney Parker. When a chance accident transports her from her rural hometown of Willingden to the would-be coastal resort of the eponymous title, it exposes Charlotte to the intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the make, and the characters whose fortunes depend on its commercial success. The twists and turns of the plot, which takes viewers from the West Indies to the rotting alleys of London, exposes the hidden agendas of each character and sees Charlotte discover herself… and ultimately find love.

Twists and turns of the plot indeed! 😉

Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist from England. Her first job was as an editorial assistant at the Guardian newspaper, followed by a stint as deputy editor for the lifestyle section of London bible, Time Out magazine. There she had assignments that saw her racing reindeers in Lapland, going undercover in London’s premier department store and gleaning writing tips (none-too subtly) during interviews with some of her favorite authors. After becoming a freelancer, she left London behind and moved to the beautiful Cotswolds in order to write her first novel.

Want it already?

Here you can find some places to check it:

Blog schedule

Do not miss these great stops, you are going to enjoy a vast pool of reviews and excerpts.

January 13                Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog

January 14                History Lizzie

January 17                Babblings of a Bookworm

January 20                Confessions of a Book Addict

January 20                Living Read Girl

January 25                Margie’s Must Reads

January 26                My Jane Austen Book Club

February 03              The Lit Bitch

February 10              Unabridged Chick

February 10              Laura’s Reviews

February 13              Bookfoolery

February 14              Half Agony, Half Hope

February 17              Scuffed Slippers, Wormy Books

February 18              Impressions in Ink

February 23              From Pemberley to Milton

February 24              So Little Time…

February 24              Vesper’s Place

February 26              Austenesque Reviews

February 28              My Vices and Weaknesses

Review

Charlotte Heywood is a very naive girl but a bit outspoken, but not in a Lizzie Bennet’s way. By chance, she sees herself invited to stay in Sanditon, a town that is being remodelled into a top destination for holidays. Everything is new for her, from seeing the sea to being in a grand ballroom. Charlotte does not know the world and the vices that exist.

Sydney Parker, at the very beginning with his businesses and friends I was not sure what to expect but he then opened his mouth to talk to Charlotte… Even if she has a big mouth, he is not polite to her and his way of talking to her is more like the one of a brute than a gentleman. His animosity towards her is far too big because he is very kind to his family.

However, even when “angry” at each other, they keep talking, sometimes not very politely, some other in a more civilised way. She is open to the world, he is closed to some thing in the world. This is a recipe to catastrophe or perhaps not…

About the other characters, there is a lot to say but I will just mention general ideas to maybe pick your curiosity if you have not read the book or you have not watch the TV adaptation, here you have a few things to know: there is an obsessed man with an almost utopian town and her wife that could be seen as a saint; there is a Lady-Catherine-De-Bough-like woman who is a mean benefactress and childlesss rich woman, is she really mean?; there is a young enthusiastic man who wants to improve in life despite is origin; there is a rich heiress who just wants to be loved and be freed from the hypocrisy of part of society; there is also a pair of step-siblings whose relationship is not very healthy (worse than the Crawfords),;there is a man that wants to pursue a woman who completely ignores and “despises” him (I kind of like him though), etc. Did you understand anything that I describe? Maybe not everything but there is so much to read about.

Because of the story, the characters, the writing or whatever other reason that I can think of, I was hooked! I could not stop reading the book to see what was going on. I barely have time to read but I had to carry on reading Sanditon to see what else was there. I think I was as eager to read the book as Charlotte to know about the world.

To sum up: I have enjoyed the book, there are quite a few things that may not be very Jane Austen-like (e.g. the ending), the author may have taken a lot of liberties from a more “purist” viewpoint, etc. but what I need at the end of the day is a book that makes me feel. It can make me feel happy, or sad, or intrigued, a book that makes me escape from the “normal” daily life, makes me immerse in a different world and also makes me imagine these characters in different scenarios. Reading fiction for me is a way of relaxation even if that includes wanting to read all the time, when I do not have it!

4.5out5 stars

I have read some people stating that some of the topics on the book could have never been used by Jane Austen. I kind of differ, I am not a scholar on Jane Austen’s matters but only by reading her books you can see that she knew about her time. For instance, before even reading Mansfield Park, I watch two of the movies and then I read the book and we can see how Jane Austen writes about slavery or infidelity. She knows a lot and perhaps she may have not chosen to write a scene where one character is doing oral sex to another character and there is a third person who happens to see that something is going on (without knowing what is going on). I think that she may have not been totally naive, although unmarried, she was mainly a writer and, as far as I believe, a writer reads, a writer has curiosity, a writer does not shy from knowing. I agree with people’s opinion that the ending is not our cup of tea, I would have prefer something different (do not worry, I am not spoiling the ending). However, it is a variation, it is not Jane Austen writing (unfortunately) but I believe that authors can decide whatever they want. Yes, readers decide, we decide if we like it or not and a lot of authors try to only look for what their audience want. However, that is not a must, if I could write, I would write first for me and then for the readers. Once I would know what readers want, I could look for a middle ground but at the end of the day, an author writes for him or herself. Isn’t it? I may be wrong but I accept everybody’s opinion and I hope people accepts my opinion that Sanditon is a really good book. As I said, I was hooked and for me that is enough to make a novel a good one.

Now I need to try to watch the series 🙂

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