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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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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.
Top customer reviews
I second the many recommendations to give this one a miss and try the completion published as 'Sandition' by Jane Austen and Another Lady.
This "completion" of Jane Austen's unfinished effort is a disgrace. The characters' actions are so incongruous to what Austen created in those short eleven chapters that it is offensive to even presume to let the reader think that these alterations belong in a Jane Austen classic or that they are in any way consistent to the aforementioned work. Charlotte, Lady Denham, Thomas Parker, Sidney Parker, Clara Brereton and Sir Edward Denham show no resemblance to Austen's characterization. There was a complete overhaul once Barrett takes over. Thomas Parker is the worst alteration here, in my opinion. I couldn't believe the character assassination! The storylines aren't any better. The whole thing about the gambling and bootlegging is ridiculous! I have no idea what Austen had intended for the rest of this novel, but I'm sure that she would have never written something so preposterous. The writing style is rather strange. Everything seems to be fragmented and we are only shown bits and pieces of the subplots here and there. It is all very bizarre. Charlotte is so underdeveloped once Barrett takes over the writing that I'm none the wiser about her by the time the novel ends. Ugh! I'd never read a more frustrating attempt at completing an unfinished effort by a beloved author. I had based my decision to read this on Barrett's Presumption (pun intended). The aforementioned novel wasn't great, but I thought it was a fair continuation of Pride and Prejudice. This, however, is just awful. I have nothing against the author, but she shouldn't have touched this one. I have purchased Barrett's The Third Sister (continuation of Sense and Sensibility) and might as well give it a whirl. I only hope that it'll be better than this one. As for reading any more completions of Sandition, I think I'll give the one written by "Another Lady" a whirl. For I have heard and read great things about that one.