A Return to Sanditon, A Completion of Jane Austen’s Fragment
Anne Toledo. Kindle, $4.99, ASIN: B004LX0J1C
At the time of her death in 1817, Jane Austen had written twelve chapters of a book that would later be dubbed Sanditon. While Austen had introduced the characters and the background of the story, generations of fans have been left wondering where she would have taken them. Toledo explores one possibility in her debut novel.
While driving in the English countryside, Mr. and Mrs. Parker are involved in a carriage accident. Mr. Heywood and his family come to their aid, taking the couple into their home for several days. The two families become close, and when the Parkers are able to depart for their home in Sanditon, where Mr. Parker is involved in making over the community into a seaside resort town, they offer to take the eldest daughter, Charlotte Heywood, along with them.
Austen’s contribution ends just after the heroine arrives in Sanditon and is introduced to the Parker’s neighbors, including Mr. Parker’s younger brother Sidney, the man who is easily identified as the hero of the story. Toledo seamlessly resumes the storytelling from this point, continuing the tone and language of the original.
The plot takes a mysterious turn when Charlotte’s new friend, the beautiful Clara Brereton, and Sidney leave Sanditon together with no reason given, and gossip begins. Over the course of more than a year’s time, we follow Charlotte home to Willingden and then to London, where Charlotte and her sister, Arabella, investigate the disappearance of Clara.
Overall, this is an excellent effort at completing Austen’s unfinished work, blending and enhancing the original author’s characters, locations, and language with unique ideas.