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Jane Austen's Charlotte: Her Fragment of a Last Novel, Completed by Julia Barrett Hardcover – March 14, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: M. Evans & Company; First Edition edition (March 14, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087131908X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871319081
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,962,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of two sequels to Jane Austen novels (The Third Sister and Presumption), Barrett now sets out to complete Austen's last book. When she died in 1817, Austen left behind 11 chapters of a novel chronicling the growth and demise of Sanditon, a town on the southern coast of Sussex. Thomas Parker and his wife have partnered with Sanditon's grande dame, Lady Denham, in an effort to establish the town as a center of tourism competitive with Brighton. A guest of the Parkers, fresh, sharp and level-headed 22-year-old Charlotte Heywood, is the novel's heroine. Charlotte's impressions of the people who populate Sanditon--haughty Lady Denham; her supercilious nephew, Sir Edward; her kind-hearted companion, Clara Brereton; and Thomas Parker's dashing younger brother, Sidney--set the scene. In brilliant Austen style, the first chapters prepare the reader for Edward's unrequited love for Clara, the possibility of a match between Charlotte and Sidney and grand social commentary. But where Austen leaves off, Barrett picks up with circumlocutory language, unclear and contradictory character descriptions and a general heedlessness for plot, cramming the story with minor characters, coincidences, scenes of smuggling and gambling. Clara and Sir Edward indulge in a melodramatic affair, and Barrett's positive presentation of a new protagonist, poet and intellectual Emmeline Turner, is at odds with Austen's mocking attitude toward similar characters in other works. Barrett also risks much in coupling her own prose with Austen's. Still, determined Austen fans may find the novel an intriguing if less than satisfying footnote to the Austen canon. (Apr.) FYI: Barrett is a pseudonym of Julia Braun Kessler.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Austen left behind a fragment of a novel, which she entitled The Brothers but which was later known as Sanditon, after the story's setting. Under that title, it was completed by "Another Lady" (i.e., Anne Telscombe) and published by Houghton Mifflin (LJ 1/75). Now, the pseudonymous Barrett, the author of The Third Sister and Presumption (her sequels to Austen's Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, respectively), has based a new novel on Austen's fragment. Barrett knows the style and themes of her predecessor thoroughly, and it is difficult to know when Austen leaves off and Barrett begins. The plot concerns the involvement of numerous characters in the rise and fall of a seaside spa in Sussex. Charlotte temporarily leaves her family to stay with the Parkers at the resort. There she becomes embroiled in Mr. Parker's enthusiastic but ill-fated attempt to lure more people to take the waters at Sanditon. She falls in love with Parker's cynical brother Sidney, who becomes more human and caring under her benign influence. The situations are amusingly satirical, and the characters are diverse and entertaining, although the title character lacks the forcefulness and charm of Austen's best female characters. Although not a great novel, this pastiche is essential reading for Austen devotees. Recommended for larger public and college libraries.AMorris Hounion, New York City Technical Coll. Lib., Brooklyn
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

It is far more superior than this book.
"gwenivere999"
The writing, too, is extremely disappointing, with convoluted sentence structures and seemingly random chapter closures.
mehlsta
There is almost no dialogue, a distinct departure from Austen's usual style.
"favrefan1000"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This novel is a travesty. That Ms. Barrett would even presume to complete the work of one of the greatest English authors is audacity personified. This book is extremely boring and seemingly plotless. If you're looking for a satisfying completion to this novel choose "Sandition" by Jane Austen and "Another Lady" instead. Ms. Barrett not only fails to deliver the wittiness and sharp insight of a Jane Austen novel, she also fails miserably at attempting Austen's style of writing. Truly a disappointment, to put it mildly.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Jane Austen's fragment is a delightful story which is ruined with the first sentence Julia Barrett writes. In it she has Charlotte repeat the joke the narrator has just told. The language becomes convoluted and flowery. All the characters sound like Sir Edward Denham but without the poetry quotations. There is very little action of any kind in the book. Jane Austen's characters fade into the background and the new ones introduced by Barrett take over the story. Charlotte, Lady Denham and Sidney Parker seem to change character completely as soon as Barrett takes over the writing. She takes six or more pages to say what Austen would have put in a couple of sentences. What plot there is bears little resemblence to anything Jane Austen seems to have had in mind.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am always eager to read completions of Jane Austen's work, unlike those who find it unthinkable that anyone should touch the gems she left behind. I find Ms. Barrett's work disappointing, however, because it appears to me that it lacks the subtlety and charm so characteristic of Jane Austen's: the minimal changes of place and scene, the delicate development of character through conversation and observation, the wry humor she employs and the focus of thought and action through the eyes of her primary characters. This Charlotte is too full of inconsistencies of characterization and plot (Lady Denham throwing lavish entertainments? Lurid tales of piracy and gambling?) for me, and I didn't enjoy reading it. I liked Sanditon by Another Lady much better - I think she did a lovely job of capturing JA's essence and finishing the novel in a manner more consistent with it's original author's style and pattern.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ingrid on August 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Even casual readers of Jane Austen understand that all her writing exists within a certain range. All her novels contain some variation of certain plot elements - the hero, the female rival(s) for the hero's affections, the decoy hero, the wouldn't-marry-him-even-if-he-was/even-though-he-is-worth-10,000-a-year anti-hero. Austen's genious was not in original plotting, but in her use of this formula to explore character, human nature and society. The opening chapters of _Charlotte_, those penned by our beloved authoress, set up all these elements brilliantly. Unfortunately, when Julia Barrett takes over the narrative, we find no social commentary (forgiveable perhaps since Ms. Barrett does not live in the society described), but more importantly, a plot which ambles about as non-sensically as a drunk who has lost his sense of direction. The heroine spends most of her time outside the hero's company, and a considerable time outside of Sanditon and away from most of the characters introduced. The characters clearly intended by Austen as rivals disappear from the pages between their introduction and their marriages, approximately 90% of the story. I can hardly critize Ms. Barrett for not writing in Austen's style or with Austen's formula. I only expect such deviations to be done well, in a manner that is internally consistent with the characters introduced, which _Charlotte_ is not.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As a lover of all things Austen, I was very excited when I first came upon this book. But this completion of Sanditon is incredibly weak. The plot wanders aimlessly, although "wanders" is perhaps too favorable of a term since it implies some momentum.
Worse, the characterization is frightfully dull. The previous Sanditon completion in the 1970s by "Another Lady" is vastly superior, fleshing out very memorable characters and making you really care about Charlotte. By the end of this book, I didn't care about any of the characters as they were so frightfully dull. The climactic conclusion was more like an afterthought; perhaps the writer(s) wanted to be done with the book as fast as I did.
Avoid this debacle and track down the completion by "Another Lady" instead.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By mehlsta on December 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
As a JA lover, I was excited to receive a copy of this book, and eager to like it. Unfortunately, that was impossible, as Barrett's continuation on Austen's chapters is exceptionally poor work. Barrett introduces extraneous characters for no apparent reason, wastes pages outlining their motives and mental states in tedious detail, and then leaves them to accomplish nothing in particular. You know something is seriously awry with the plotting and pacing when the heroine's relationship with the hero hardly makes an appearance until the final 2.5 pages of the book!
The writing, too, is extremely disappointing, with convoluted sentence structures and seemingly random chapter closures. Worst of all, the work completely lacks Austen's understated and sparkling wit.
I strongly recommend skipping this work altogether, and reading "Sanditon" instead. It's a charming and satisfying completion of the JA fragment that, unlike "Charlotte," remains true to Austen's original characters and prose style.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

JULIA BARRETT

Website: www.my-jane-austen.com

Reviews of all four [Kindle] eBooks sequels to Jane Austen's novels will be found at this website. Just click on each cover item.

A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY

Julia Barrett is the author of four continuations to the great novels of Jane Austen, as well as a completion of her final work. As a novelist, she has addressed herself to picking up Austen's wonderful creations -- people so lively and so vivid for us all -- to see if she could extend our encounters with them, increase our pleasures in them -- while yet keeping within the author's own themes, speaking in her language, and remaining true to her remarkable wit.

Her first was PRESUMPTION: AN ENTERTAINMENT, a sequel to Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (undertaken with English novelist, Gabrielle Donnelly, who for that book only joined with the pseudonymous JULIA BARRETT).

This work was called by THE LONDON TELEGRAPH "the next best thing to discovering a hitherto lost novel by Jane Austen"; and THE NEW YORK TIMES wrote of it: " ... energetically and often delightfully handled, evoking the spirit of PRIDE & PREJUDICE." BRITISH HERITAGE said it was "a glittering gem" of which he title alone gave fair warning of (Barrett's) approach: respect, common sense, and both altogether a strong dose of humor."

Her next continuation was a continuation of Austen's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, this time as JULIA BARRETT, completely on her own.
The work was entitled THE THIRD SISTER. Of it, THE NEW YORK TIMES said, "... a good story, tight writing and a heroine with brains and charm. BRITISH HERITAGE MAGAZINE declared, "Both Barrett and Austen excel at what should be the primary goal of novelists, yet one that so few authors seem to be able to achieve: capturing our imaginations, holding us spellbound, and -- even after the story's resolution -- leaving us wanting to know more."

Still another triumph followed for Barrett when she elected to answer one of those unresolved fictional questions left by Jane Austen's short writing career: Where might she have gone next as a novelist?

This novel was entitled JANE AUSTEN'S CHARLOTTE: HER FRAGMENT OF A LAST NOVEL, COMPLETED. That truncated manuscript left by the author at her too-early death as a mere seventy-odd notebook sheets is taken up in mid-sentence by Barrett and carried through to its surprising and bold conclusion.

Of that work, THE WASHINGTON POST said, "Barrett's vision is sound and she bring this very entertaining book to a proper Austen-like conclusion, in which foolishness is chastened, strength of character rewarded and society...hums in equilibrium once more." The LIBRARY JOURNAL tells us that, "Barrett knows the style and themes of her predecessor thoroughly...it is difficult to know when Austen leaves off and Barrett begins ...."

JULIA BARRETT'S LATEST NOVEL: MARY CRAWFORD: REVISITING AT MANSFIELD PARK
Of Austen's MANSFIELD PARK the great critic, Lionel Trilling observed: "Jane Austen's character was conceived as "all pungency and wit" to win the admiration of almost any reader." "Her mind is lively and competent as her body; she can bring not only a horse but a conversation to a gallop...." Yet he laments, in the end "we are asked to believe that she is not to be admired...." Here Barrett frees Mary Crawford to become herself at last.

CAREER AS JOURNALIST AND NON-FICTION WRITER:

Under her own name, Julia Braun Kessler, she has had an extensive career in writing, editing and journalism, serving as Features Editor for SEVENTEEN MAGAZINE, Research Editor for ENCYCLOPEDIA AMERICANA, and Publications Director for the University of Michigan's INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH.
She taught the Humanities at UCLA, and served with the University of Southern California's Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center as Editorial Consultant. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and a Master of Arts from Columbia University.

Her articles and newspaper features have appeared in magazines and papers all over the country; among them: SEVENTEEN, FAMILY CIRCLE, TRAVEL & LEISURE, GEO, HUMAN BEHAVIOR, MODERN MATURITY, EAST-WEST NETWORK PERIODICALS, LOS ANGELES TIMES, LOS ANGELES HERALD EXAMINER, LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, and countless others more.

Her first book was non-fiction: GETTING EVEN WITH GETTING OLD, a study of aging in various cultures.

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Jane Austen's Charlotte: Her Fragment of a Last Novel, Completed by Julia Barrett
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