Dear Reader, no, we did not read all of Jane Austens’ books, we tackled only Sanditon, chosen for its brevity and for its mystery – it is unfinished. I am grateful to my reading companions for their knowledge of Jane Austen’s books, the inner workings, the characters, as well as context and history. Maybe one day I will be able to read a whole JA book and get the humour. I thank you, ladies.
Why did we chose this book?
Jane Austen lived just down the road from our own Tudor House, literally 3 – 5 minutes stroll. Her house is gone now, a smart pub is in its place, the Blue Plaque is on the long outside wall: http://www.southampton-pubs.co.uk/juniperberry/
What’s Sanditon about?
Many answers… but of course, change – in this case the push to change a small, quiet place into a thriving bigger place that caters to health tourism. That’s the basic stuff, but the fun is in encountering the social commentary and the personalities. I can’t say a lot about them now, I am an Austen Novice and still a bit bewildered, but I am so glad I was able to listen to what the others said and now I have a better handle on how to tackle what I refer to as a ‘hard’ book. We all had a go at writing our own endings to the story – as have some print editions – spoiler alert: there are bathing machines involved.
Sanditon is not only a book: it is a play, a film, and a musical. I am delighted to hear that Andrew Davies is writing the screen play and that the cast looks like a good crew – Kris Marshall, for instance! https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8685324/
The play is available on DVD: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Austen-Sanditon-Film-Play/dp/B00RDFICI2 along with what looks like an interesting documentary (so many books and films, so little time…).
The musical, in London, https://lwtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/200-years-later/ (and not an expensive night out by the looks of it, if you happen to be in Town). I am amazed by how the oddest things get made into musicals.
Have a look at this book, Secret Southampton, hot off the press, written by Martin Brisland, the amazing Southampton tour guide (also soul and reggae musician). Martin includes the Tudor House and Garden in his tours, and will of course do all the Blue Plaque stuff. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Southampton-Martin-Brisland/dp/1445685558/ref=sr_1_1?
The Tudor House is in the Old Town, right by the docks, and you get a real sense of what reclaimed land really is when you walk round here – the civil and structural engineering of the Port of Southampton is so striking, and the area is full of not only old history stuff, but you can see clearly how a major modern port looks from the high ground and walls of the old town. Take a tour with Martin and his colleagues at SEE Southampton, you can find them here http://seesouthampton.co.uk/walks-and-talks/
I am not at all a fan of things touristy, but, hand on heart, Southampton is interesting: industrial and commercial history is interesting. (It’s my favourite kind). And I have met Martin, he loves his job and I am going on one of his tours.
Our playout music this week is from the film of the book The Jane Austen Book Club, which is the film that made me want to be part of a book club – so I started one! Not this one, but The Henry James Book Group (now defunct) in Exeter, Devon, where for a few crazy weeks about eight highly different, intelligent, and quirky ladies tried to learn how to discuss literature. What fun we had! I am very grateful to our Group Leader, Becca, at the Tudor House Book Group for understanding how to organise a book club, because I surely didn’t!
Till next time, Jill