Monday 19 June 2017

The Summertime Jane Austen Book Club: welcome to the Sanditon-along!

Hello hello.

How do you fancy sitting back, people-watching, and maybe falling in love Jane Austen-style this summer?

If that sounds like how you'd like to spend July then come and join in with an impromptu, informal, summer book club hosted by me (hello!) and Ruth from Everyday Life of a Suburban SAHM.

Sanditon - an unfinished novel by Jane Austen (completed by other authors)
When Jane Austen died, 200 years ago next month, only 4 of the books we know and love her for - Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park and, my personal favourite, Emma - had been published.

Two further works - Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published posthumously ... and then there was Sandition. Austen had only written 12 chapters of Sanditon when she died on July 18th 1817 and, since then it's been released into the world after being completed by several different authors. 


Last week Ruth posted on Instagram (where she's @thestreetsofw5) about how she rescued an abandoned copy of Sanditon from the jaws of death* at a recycling centre. (OK, I may have exaggerated ... but she did rescue it from a recycling centre where it was surely only a few collections and deliveries away from being pulped!)

And her post leapt out at me because I have a copy of the exact same edition, which I rescued from a charity shop, and - like Ruth - I had never read it. So I suggested we join forces for a communal read-along: or - more precisely - a Sanditon-along!

We're opening the covers on Sanditon on July 1st 2017, and taking our reading at a leisurely pace throughout the month.

Grab yourself a copy of Sanditon by Jane Austen by any which way you fancy before July 1st*.
  • *Actually ... don't worry if you don't get it by that date - that's just when we're starting to read it, and chat about it in occasional blog/Instagram posts. Feel free to join in whenever you can,  but if you'd like the communal element try to get into it before the end of July. 
  • Check your local library catalogue - because good books are good, but free books are even better! 
  • I've had a quick look on Amazon (UK) and there are actually a few copies available of the same edition we're using.  
  • Dip into eBay, charity/thrift shops and - apparently recycling centres are a good sourse of abandoned novels! 
  • And of course there are ebook versions available out there too. Basically ... however you can get Sanditon under your nose is fine with us! 
It's almost guaranteed that we will end up reading different versions as it seems several other authors have completed what Jane Austen started. But that's no problem ... it'll probably lead us to interesting conversations about the various ways the story is taken by its different writers!

Throughout the month share your Sanditon reading experiences with us on social media / blogs:

  • eg. Share photos of your copy, or your where you're reading it.
  • Let us know how / if you're enjoying it.
  • Use the hashtag #sanditonalong if you'd like us to easily find your post - and to find posts by others.
  • Feel free to tag me on Instagram @withjuliekirk  and/or Ruth @thestreetsofw5 if you'd like to make sure we see your posts!
You can also join in by:

So, how about it? Are you in?

It's such a wonderfully serendipitous chain of events that's led us, including you, here, now ... 
Firstly, someone chose to leave that book in the recycling centre. Then Ruth just happened to notice it, decide to take it home and post about it on Instagram. Where I just happened to see it and recognise it as exactly the same edition as the one lounging on my shelf. And now, just days later, here we are planning to read Jane Austen's final, unfinished novel, during the 200th anniversary of her death ... and beyond.  And encouraging others - you - to join us in doing the same. 

I've been meaning all year to find an appropriate, meaningful  way to mark her anniversary not merely because it was an important one of 200 years, but also because of her age when she died: she was 41 and 7 months. On her anniversary I'll be 41 and 6 months ... and I've felt somehow obliged to consciously mark the occasion. And now, almost accidentally, I know what I'll be doing! 

I'll be reading her final book alongside a network of readers who, like me, might well be encountering it for the first time. 

The whole occasion, of our pop-up Sanditon-along book club, is almost perfectly Austenian in itself! What with its themes of coincidences, the 'almost-didn't-happen'-ness, the love of books and reading, the sharing of stories between female friends ... it fits happily within the Austen universe. 

And Ruth and I hope you'll get chance to join us there! 


So tell me ... are you going to go find/dust-off a copy and get ready to start reading with us on July 1st 2017?!! 


  1. I hadn't realised that this book even existed (bows head in shame). Can you imagine being that 'other lady'? "We've got a half finished book that needs a few chapters added to it. Do you fancy having a go? You may have heard of the person who started it off ..." No pressure there then!

    1. Haha, that's exactly what I thought ... and I'd never heard of it either.

    2. I know Debs! And I like that in the blurb in this edition it says she wanted to stay anonymous following in Austen's footsteps (she was anonymous for a while). Although ... can you really imagine the author being thrilled at simply being 'Another Lady'??!

  2. Blimey! I seem to have started something that may turn into something BIG ... yikes! This is a great post, btw.

  3. Dear Julie
    Count me in - have just purchased! I have read it before, but the Jane Austen original. It will be interesting to see what 'Another Lady' makes of it.
    Best wishes

    1. Great - welcome aboard! You'll be in a good position to see how the later authors changed added to the original unfinished parts then!

  4. Me again! Couldn't resist, had to order it. Count me in!

    1. Lovely! I can't vouch for its quality, I've not even read the first page ... I guess we'll find out together!

  5. I'm in too Julie! I recently read Jane Austen: The Secret Radical and made a vow to read her books again...this will be perfect!

    1. Great stuff Hazel! We can all discover it together!

  6. I've just seen your post on this on Instagram, I'm in too. I've already been rereading Austen for my summer reading list and this one wasn't on my list so thank you for bringing it to my attention! I've done Sense and sensibility, pride and prejudice and persuasion, (my favourite and most read although I've fallen back in love with pride&prejudice a bit after rereading, I'd forgotten how funny it is). This one will fit nicely in the middle if we're starting in July :) x Leo

    1. Excellent! I had planned to re-read all those I'd read AND read those I hadn't yet got round to, this year ... but haven't exactly made a start yet! So I think this is a good alternative! Welcome aboard!

  7. Late catching up, but I have my copy and am reading away ... :).


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