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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Sanditon on screen

More casting news for what seems to be a for-real, actually-going-to-happen film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sanditon: Two young, good-looking Brits have joined the ensemble.

They are Holliday Grainger, playing heroine Charlotte Heywood, and Max Irons (son of Jeremy), playing Sidney Parker, whom Jane Austen may have intended as the hero. The great Charlotte Rampling had previously been cast as the stingy Lady Denham.

I’m totally looking forward to this movie, but I do find it kind of hilarious to read quotes like this, in “Director Jim O’Hanlon said: 'Sanditon is that rare and wonderful thing - a genuinely original, never-before-filmed novel by one of the world’s favourite novelists. It has everything audiences have come to expect from classic Jane Austen -- comedy, romance, and a dazzling cast of characters for them to fall in love with.’ ”

A non-Janeite reading that line might be forgiven for thinking that we were talking about a book Jane Austen had finished, rather than a seventy-page fragment left abandoned at her death. The little we have of Sanditon is tantalizing, intriguing and altogether wonderful – but it’s very little. The character Irons is slated to play, described by ScreenDaily, the web presence of Screen International magazine, as “dashing, feckless Sidney Parker,” makes his first and only two-paragraph appearance in the last two pages. Dashing and feckless? Maybe, but we don’t know it from Austen.

I’ll happily watch whatever the filmmakers come up with by way of fleshing out and finishing up Jane Austen’s tragically aborted last work. But it might be nice if they’d be honest about just how little genuine, original Austen this project is likely to contain.

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