Sanditon is being presented by PBS's Masterpiece Theatre over eight weeks beginning January 12, 2020; episodes can be streamed from PBS.org.
Sanditon is a clever, high-spirited, and emotionally rich drama. Acclaimed British screenwriter Andrew Davies adapted the film from Jane Austen's unfinished novel, written just before her death.
The story revolves around Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), a country girl from a large family who is invited to spend the summer at the home of Tom (Kris Marshall) and Mary (Kate Ashfield) Parker. He is developing a seaside resort, Sanditon, with the investment of the town's matriarch, Lady Denham (Anne Reid). But to attract visitors from London, he needs the help of his brother, Sidney Parker (Theo James), who brings along his ward, an Antiguan heiress named Miss Lambe (Crystal Clarke), and several rich friends. One of them (Mark Stanley) falls in love with Esther Denham (Charlotte Spencer), who with her brother Edward (Jack Fox) is scheming to inherit Lady Denham's money.
Charlotte is ready for an adventure and she happily dances with dashing men at the balls, swims in the wild ocean waters, plans escapades with Miss Lambe, and attracts the attention of several men. Will Sanditon overcome financial setbacks and become successful? Will Charlotte, Esther, and Miss Lambe find men worthy of their love? Fans of Jane Austen's novels will recognize familiar themes and plot lines here with some new twists. Although set in the 19th century, it sparks in our consciousness reflection on our contemporary economic inequality; the greed, anger, ill will, and dishonesty that grows out of the quest for money and position; and the continuing subjugation and devaluing of women. Throughout, you'll find yourself cheering for Charlotte, while sometimes questioning her choices!
Andrew Davies, screenplay writer of Sanditon and BAFTA and Emmy-award-winning writer (House of Cards, War & Peace. Mr. Selfridge, Les Miserables, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Northhanger Abbey) has said of this production:
"Jane Austen managed to write only a fragment of her last novel before she died — but what a fragment! Sanditon tells the story of the transformation of a sleepy fishing village into a fashionable seaside resort, with a spirited young heroine, a couple of entrepreneurial brothers, some dodgy financial dealings, a Western Indian heiress and quite a bit of nude bathing. It has been a privilege and a thrill for me to develop Sanditon into a TV drama for a modern audience."
Executive Producer Belinda Campbell adds: "Anthony Davies' compelling scripts bear all the hallmarks of the biting social commentary and realism that makes Jane Austen one of the most widely read writers in English literature. Sanditon's themes of class divide, ambition, powerplay, and matters of the heart are as relevant as they were in the early 19th century."
Jane Austen died on July 18, 1817, at age 41. According to the biography on the PBS website: "She never wrote a memoir, sat for an interview, or recorded whether she had herself felt the joys and disappointments of love. The biographical facts may never adequately explain the quick wit, sharp insight, and deep emotional intelligence she brought to her novels. Her works continue to transcend mere facts and to appeal to our hearts and minds."
Here are links to our reviews of film versions of her consistently interesting and spiritually edifying works.
- Two versions of Sense and Sensibility, the enchanting family saga about love, draw out all of the bittersweet moments in Jane Austen's first novel: Sense and Sensibility directed by Ang Lee and Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility directed by John Alexander.
- Pride and Prejudice is a captivating screen adaptation of Jane Austen's comedy of manners that tugs at our heartstrings.
- Mansfield Park is the story of one woman's struggles to remain true to the vastness of her spirit and soul; the drama is as exhilarating as a brisk ride in the countryside.
- Persuasion is Jane Austen's take on class warfare and the quest for love.
- Emma is a cautionary tale about the complications which can ensue from the efforts of well-intentioned do-gooders.
- Becoming Jane is a biodrama set in 1795 about the famed English author's life. It does a fine job conveying Austen's quest for love and her yearning for her rightful place in a literary world dominated by men.