Sanditon Character Review: Charlotte Heywood

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the book and the television show Sanditon. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Growth does not come from taking the easy way out. It comes from walking on an unseen path, not knowing what lies ahead. The heroine of the PBS/Masterpiece television series, Sanditon (based on the unfinished Jane Austen novel of the same) is Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams). Born to a rural farming family, her world opens tenfold when Tom and Mary Parker‘s (Kris Marshall and Kate Ashfield) carriage crashes.

Grateful for their brief respite, the Parkers offer Charlotte to stay with them for a short time in Sanditon, a growing seaside community. Among those who she meets are Tom’s younger brother, Sidney (Theo James), and Miss Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke). Sidney is a realist while Tom has his head in the clouds. Georgiana is a biracial heiress and is much as an outsider as Charlotte is.

Charlotte is also eager to spread her wings and not find love (at least not yet). She is eager to expand her mind and takes it upon herself to get involved with Tom’s business ventures.

Like many couples, Charlotte and Sidney’s relationship does not start off well. There are misunderstandings and miscommunication. But that eventually turns into mutual attraction, which turns into love. But there is no happy ending for Charlotte and Sidney. To save the family business, he must marry his widowed and wealthy ex. He then dies soon after, leaving her heartbroken.

After spending time at home recovering from her loss, Charlotte returns to Sanditon. Joining her is her younger sister, Alison (Rosie Graham). Alison is in the same emotional place that her sister was previously. Determined not to marry, Charlotte accepts a position as the governess for Alexander Colbourne (Ben Lloyd-Hughes). She also meets Colonel Francis Lennox (Tom Weston-Jones). As with an Austen-ian love interest, there is a question of who is telling the truth and who is a good liar.

To sum it up: Through friendship, falling in love, and heartbreak, Charlotte starts to mature. Even when she is down in the dumps, she finds the strength to move forward and find happiness/purpose. Considering the time and place that she lives in, this is both refreshing and modern. The way I look it at is that if she can pick herself up and move on, then so can the rest of us.

Which is why she is a memorable character.


Alex Jones Got What Was Coming to Him

Freedom of speech is important in any living democracy. But even that has its limits.

On Wednesday, a Connecticut jury decided that Alex Jones should pay nearly $1 Billion dollars to eight families of Sandy Hook victims and one first responder.

Jones got what was coming to him. What these people deserve (and absolutely need) is our empathy and support. Telling lies about the loss of their loved ones to sell whatever he was selling is cruel and inhuman.

Of course, he will refute the verdict and continue to spread his version of the truth.

It goes without saying that the funds cannot bring the dead or undo the ten years of grief that those left behind live with on a daily basis. But it can send a message that there are consequences for one’s actions.

Only time will tell if Alex Jones and his ilk will stay with us or fade into memory. I would love to be optimistic, but considering our current political climate, I cannot be anything but pessimistic.

Summer Island Book Review

Trauma has a way of shaping our choices like few things can. Though we can pretend that everything is fine, the truth is that it has a way of emotionally eating us alive.

Kristin Hannah‘s 2004 novel, Summer Island, is about two families who are forced to deal with their past. To the outside world, Nora is a successful advice columnist/radio show host. When it is revealed that Nora walked out on her family and cheated on her husband, her career and reputation crumble.

After surviving a nearly crippling car accident, Nora’s younger daughter Ruby becomes her mother’s reluctant caretaker. Ruby is a struggling comedienne who has yet to work through her anger and is offered a tidy sum to write a tell-all article.

When Eric came out, he was excommunicated by his family. After losing his longtime partner to AIDS, he is now dying from terminal cancer. Instead of spending his last days in a formal medical setting, Eric is moved to the family home and taken care of by Dean, his estranged brother. As they reconnect, the hard truth about their collective past becomes harder to ignore.

Adding to the complication is that Ruby grew up with Eric and Dean. Dean also happens to be her first boyfriend and first love. Though it seems impossible, these two families must reckon with their previous choices and the consequences.

Wow. Hannah proves once more why she is one of the finest fiction writers of our era. The tension is so thick that it can be cut with a knife. With a master’s touch, she intertwines the narratives of Eric, Nora, and their not-so-happy family lives. I was hooked from nearly the first page and did not want the story to end.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Summer Island is available wherever books are sold.

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