Thursday, September 06, 2007

Sandition

I've figured out which Jane Austen heroine I think I really am.

Charlotte Heywood.

Now, lest some of you Austenphiles out there say, "Who?" I will explain: About six months before her death, Austen began a manuscript titled Sandition. The heroine in a girl from the country who, through a fortunate set of a circumstances, comes to spend the summer in a minor (fictitious) beach resort town called Sandition. She wrote 11 short chapters in three months and then never wrote any more. She died in June of that year. The manuscript survived and was passed to her family. Literary critics have always considered the incomplete novel as a "minor" work. Several people, including a relative of Austen's have attempted to finish it. The one I read was published in 1975, though Amazon lists a reprint in the 1998 that is the same. Anyway, the result is really excellent. The link above is to the copy I read, and apparently is the most popular. Knowing it was written mostly by a second author (whom the cover refers to as "another lady" and even Wikipedia acknowledges that there are at least two different names for this woman) forces me to see that it doesn't have Austen's subtely or sedateness, but it is very witty and the plot is, well, delightful. Sandition falls somewhere in between Austen and Georgette Hyer. (If you haven't read Heyer, I suggest reading The Foundling first. Less comedy of manners than Austen, more heavy on crazy plot twists.)

I've seen on several blogs people linking to a website that lets you figure out which Austen character you are. The problem is, that as I read the questions, they seemed to be written by a person who has merely seen movies made of Austen's books without actually having read them. For this reason, you can only become an Austen heroine who became a part of a screenplay. Also, I have seen these movies often enough to force my answers to turn me into Elizabeth Bennet, which character I've always wanted to be. But after reading Sandition, I think it must be Charlotte Heywood. I'm less polished than Miss Lizzie and certainly have even more provincial background than the Bennets. Miss Heywood is practical, average and fond of observing the foibles of others. She also completely falls apart when she falls in love. She reminds me so much of myself in my early 20's that it is almost uncanny.

Maybe I should do the screenplay for Sandition . . . .

4 comments:

The Divine Miss A said...

So glad to find someone else who loves (or at least likes) Georgette Heyer. Out here in Missouri, almost no one I know is familiar with any of her work. My favorite is probably The Devil's Cub or The Masqueraders.

Also, thanks for the heads-up on Sanditon. I've been on an Austen kick lately, and I had heard about it but never read it. I'll have to check it out now.

Kimberly Bluestocking: said...

Funny - I think I'm the only Austen fan I know who doesn't wish they were Lizzy. She'd be a fun friend, but she's so different from that I think I'm more comfortable staying in my own skin.

Of all the Austen heroines I'm familiar with, I relate most to Elinor Dashwood. She's practical, reserved, determined to live uprightly, and feels emotions deeply but doesn't show them much. She's not the most sociable person, but very loyal those she becomes close to.

Come to think of it, the man I married is much more an E. Ferrars than an F. Darcy.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

I've recently re-read Sense and Sensibility and I have have found a new appreciation and love for Elinor. Of all the (feature length) film adaptations out there, I think Emma Thompson's screenplay for and performance in S & S is the best. The director, ironically enough, also did Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Incredible Hulk. He says he likes to do movies where characters are put in nearly impossible situations because of their sense of duty and honor. Interesting.

Kimberly Bluestocking: said...

Now those are three movies I would never expect to have ANYTHING in common, least of all the director who breathed life into them.