Sanditon Character Review: Diana Parker

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.

Determination is a wonderful thing. It allows us to pursue our goals when all seems lost. But, at the same time, it can create blinders to being open to change. In Sanditon, Diana Parker (Alexandra Roach) is the only daughter of the Parker family. With three brothers, Arthur (Turlough Convery), Sidney (Theo James), and Tom (Kris Marshall), and a comfortable inheritance, she does not have a care in the world. Or so one would think.

Diana is hypocondriac. Any sort of perceived malady or over-exertion sends her down a wormhole of anxiety. Joining her down this wormhole is Arthur. Though she can be perceived as a concerned older sister, she can also be seen as enabling him to lead a sedentary life. Rarely seen without Arthur, they can best be described as co-dependent. That does not mean, however, that she is not in bed all day.

Like all of the Parkers, she is active in supporting the town and Tom’s dream of creating a seaside resort. Unlike Tom, she is not married and has yet to consider the prospect. her 30’s, she would prefer to watch other people dance at balls rather than step onto the dance floor herself. Upon seeing Arthur pair up with Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke) at a local dance, she becomes concerned that he has matrimonial designs on the heiress. But at the end of the day, he returns to her side.

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To sum it up: Diana is an interesting character. She (and Arthur by extension) provides comedic relief, creating a balance with the drama. While we laugh at her, we can see her love for her family and the stubbornness that exists in all of the Parker siblings.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Sanditon Character Review: Sidney Parker

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.

It is easy to judge a book by its cover. It is harder to get to know them and understand the circumstances that made them into who they are. In Sanditon, Sidney Parker (Theo James) does not make a great first impression. Like his predecessor, Fitzwilliam Darcy, he comes off as rude, arrogant, and a snob.

One of four children (three boys and a girl), Sidney is the dark sheep of the family. Tom (Kris Marshall) is the dreamer. Arthur (Turlough Convery) is the layabout. Diana (Alexandra Roach) is the worrier. He has been away for many years and would rather be anywhere else than be in the company of his family.

When he meets Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), it is hate at first sight. Sidney perceives Charlotte to be a naive country girl. Charlotte thinks that he is a little too full of himself.

Things start to change when there is an accident in the town and Charlotte steps in to help. He begins to see her intelligence and her willingness to step in when necessary. They go back and forth for a while. It gets rocky when Charlotte does not understand the pressure that Sidney is under to keep his ward, Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke) safe from golddiggers.

When they finally get together, it is a moment that has been a long time coming. It seems that Charlotte and Sidney’s future is all settled. But before Sidney can properly pop the question, he has to settle some business issues for Tom (again).

When he returns, he has bad news. The only way to save the family is to marry his ex, Eliza Campion (Ruth Kearney). Eliza is a wealthy widow who abandoned Sidney for her late husband. Upon previously encountering Charlotte, she promptly switched into Mean Girls mode, mocking her for her “low” upbringing.

Unfortunately, the next time we hear of Sidney, he is dead, leaving everyone around him heartbroken.

To sum it up: Sidney’s arc is one of opening up and learning to love. Not just romantic love, but the love of family. It is that love that forces him to make the decision to ultimately marry for money.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

Sanditon Character Review: Arthur Parker

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.

We cannot grow if we sit, both figuratively and literally on our behinds. The only way to make change happen is to take a chance and see what happens. When we first meet Arthur Parker (Turlough Convery), he is a hypochondriac whose favorite activities include eating and drinking. Trying something new or even getting exercise is a rare event in his life. Tied at the hip to his older sister Diana (Alexandra Roach), she encourages his sedentary lifestyle.

The youngest of the Parker siblings, he is not married and has not even considered the subject. When his oldest brother Sidney (Theo James) passes away unexpectedly, Arthur becomes very close to Sidney’s ward, Georgiana Lambe (Crytal Clarke). Both are outsiders and understand what the other is going through. Despite his outward appearance, Arthur is sensible, observant, and emotionally open-hearted.

After Diana’s departure, Arthur starts to become more adventurous. When artist Alexander Lockhart (Alexander Vlahos) comes to town, he instantly becomes friends with Lockhart. Though it is not stated directly, it is implied that he is attracted to Lockhart. When we see him last, Arthur is comforting Georgiana in light of the unsettling revelations of who the artist really is.

To sum it up: Appearances can be deceiving. Though Arthur appears to be the typical plus-sized character who is nothing more than a comedic caricature, he is much more than that. In revealing the whole person, the audience is challenged to see beyond the physique and question if first impressions are accurate.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

Sanditon Character Review: Georgiana Lambe

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

*I apologize for not posting last week. I had other writing priorities that came first.

*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.

It blows my mind, that in 2022, race is still an issue. Instead of being seen merely as skin color, it is used to judge one another. Back in Jane Austen‘s era, the very thought of probing this topic was revolutionary. Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke) is Austen’s first and only character of color.

Georgiana is a biracial heiress from Antigua whose mere presence in the town ruffles feathers. Among those who are a bit too curious is Lady Denham (Anne Reid). Without any direct family to support or provide for her, she is under the legal guardianship of Sidney Parker (Theo James). Feeling constrained by her circumstances, Georgiana bristles against Sidney and her house mother, Mrs. Griffiths (Elizabeth Berrington). One of her few outlets is her friendship with Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams).

When her past love, Otis Molyneux (Jyuddah Jaymes) arrives in town, both Georgiana and Charlotte play a game of subterfuge. Sidney does not approve of Otis because he believes that he only wants to marry her for her fortune. Later on, when Otis is up to his eyeballs in debt, he uses her name as collateral. This turns into a kidnapping which is only stopped by Sidney. As expected, Georgiana tells Otis where he can go.

When we see her again in the second season, her guardianship has been switched to Tom and Mary Parker (Kris Marshall and Kate Ashfield). Now that she is nearing her majority, it is even more important to ensure that she marries well. When Georgiana meets artist Charles Lockhart (Alexander Vlahos), she is initially skeptical of him. But over time, the skepticism turns into romance. That romance fizzles out when Lockhart reveals his true colors.

It would have been easy for her to crumble, given both her past and her present circumstances. But Georgiana has a backbone and is not afraid to speak her mind. What I personally like about her is her strength, knowing full well that a well-bred woman keeps her opinions to herself in that era.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

Sanditon Character Review: Tom and Mary Parker

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

*I apologize for not posting last week. I had other writing priorities that came first.

*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.

The best relationships, whether they be personal, romantic, or professional, are ones in which one person balances out the other. In the  PBS/Masterpiece television series, Sanditon (based on the unfinished Jane Austen novel of the same) the narrative is kicked off when the carriage carrying Tom and Mary Parker (Kris Marshall and Kate Ashfield) crashes. Briefly taken in by the Heywood family, the offer to give the eldest daughter, Charlotte (Rose Williams), an opportunity to spend time with them in Sanditon.

Tom is the dreamer. Mary is a pragmatist. His dream is to turn this small seaside town into a fashionable and popular tourist destination. Unfortunately, his financial means are limited and he is not exactly a details kind of guy. The money comes from Lady Denham (Anne Reid). The nitty-gritty of the business comes from his brother Sidney (Theo James). Sidney also happens to be Charlotte’s first love.

Mary does more than take care of their children and maintain their home. She has the ability to bring her husband back to reality when necessary. When it becomes obvious that their carriage is in need of imminent repair, it is Mary who speaks the truth. Her husband would prefer to believe that everything is fine. That does not mean, however, that she does not lose her cool when Tom goes too far. When she finds out that he bought her a necklace when they are in debt, she is furious (as she should be).

To sum it up: In an era in which marriages were often a business arrangement, this is a love match. What Mary lacks, Tom has, and visa versa. It is this balance that allows their relationship to flourish and prove that love matches are possible.

Which is why they are memorable characters.

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.

Mr. Malcolm’s List Movie Review

Warning: minor spoilers.

Jane Austen, is if nothing else the Queen of the modern romantic comedy. Her tales of love, loss, growth, and sometimes forced humility has entertained fans for over 200 years.

The new movie, Mr. Malcolm’s List (based on the book of the same name by Suzanne Allain), was released in movie theaters last weekend.

Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton, replacing Gemma Chan) has been publicly spurned and wants revenge. After four seasons on the marriage market, she is still single. The man who spurned her is Mr. Jeremy Malcolm (Sope Dirisu). Mr. Malcolm is the most sought-after bachelor of the season and has the pick of the litter when it comes to his future wife.

To fend off the masses, he has created a list of qualities that a woman must have if she is to become Mrs. Malcolm. When Julia finds out about the list via her cousin, Lord Cassidy (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), she concocts a plan to get back at him. Enlisting her old school friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), she and Lord Cassidy (known to his friend as Cassie) turn Selina into marriage bait. The final result is for Selina to reveal her own list and reject Mr. Malcolm.

But as things tend to go in this genre, the scheme is turned on its head. Jeremy and Selina genuinely fall for one another. Making this love story even more twisted is the addition of Captain Henry Ossory (Theo James). Captain Ossory seems also to be courting Selina, creating a very interesting love triangle.

Though it helps to know something about the regency era and/or Austen’s writing, it is not a requirement to enjoy the film. There is enough to keep the modern fan entertained and laughing.

Like its streaming counterpart, Bridgerton, the main actors all come from different backgrounds. What drew me in and kept me going was the organic romance between Pinto and Dirisu’s characters. These are two people who are perfect for one another, if only they can put down their individual baggage.

My only complaint is that the secondary relationship between Julia and Henry was a little underdeveloped. They are supposed to be the Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley to Selina and Jeremy’s Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. The problem is that while Austen fully developed both couples, Allain (who wrote both the book and the screenplay) left Julia and Henry hanging.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Mr. Malcolm’s List is presently in theaters.

P.S. The costumes are gorgeous. Wearing any of them (specifically the ones worn by Pinto) would be a dream come true.

Regency Review Roundup: Sanditon and Bridgerton Season 2 Reviews

*There will be spoilers for Sanditon.

The Regency era is an interesting time in human history. Looking back, it is easy to see that, as a species. we are on the road to the modernity that is life today. But we are also still clinging to the rules and social structure of previous generations.

Bridgerton

After a year and a half wait, season two of Bridgerton premiered last weekend on Netflix. It’s been nine months since the narrative of season one ended. Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Bassett (Phoebe Dyvenor and Rege-Jean Page, who decided to move onto other projects) are happily married and have a baby boy. The oldest Bridgerton son Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) has decided it is his time to settle down. Among the eligible women of the ton, he chooses Edwina Sharma (Charitha Chandran). But before they can walk down the aisle, he has to get through her overprotective older sister, Kate (Simone Ashley). She is tough, smart, and unwilling to compromise on whom she sees as her future brother-in-law. The problem is that there is something between Anthony and Kate that cannot be ignored.

If last season one was hot, this season has the fire of several volcanoes exploding at the same time. The chemistry between Ashley and Bailey is intense. The enemies to lovers/slow-burn narrative is so perfect that I would recommend that anyone who wants to write a good romance novel watch this series. It’s that good.

Sanditon

Its been nine months since the audience has spent time with the denizens of Sanditon. After the death of her first love, Sydney Parker (Theo James), Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) has returned to the seaside town and the Parkers. Bringing her younger sister, Alison (Rosie Graham) with her, Charlotte reunites with old friends while making new male acquaintances. Among them are Charles Lockhart (Alexander Vlahos) and Colonel Francis Lennox (Tom Weston-Jones).

With her usual tenacity and intelligence, Charlotte is trying to move on with her life. But she is still grieving (as I suspect the viewers are as well) for what might have been, had things gone in another direction. As much as we all miss Sydney, I feel like this is opening the door for new opportunities for her in both the romantic and career arenas (as much as a woman could have back then). Akin to Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) dying in a car crash at the end of the third season of Downton Abbey, it was a heartbreaking loss. But I feel like if we look at it from a modern perspective, this unexpected change is normal. Not everyone spends their life with the first person they fell in love with. It sometimes takes a few years and a few relationships to find your other half.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Bridgerton is available for streaming on Netflix. Sanditon airs on PBS on Sunday night at 9PM.

Howards End/Sanditon Review

Classic and beloved novels are easy targets for stage and screen reboots. The question that fans have to ask is if these reboots hold up to the text.

Last night, the new adaptations of Howards End and Sanditon premiered on Masterpiece.

Based on the E.M. Foster novel, Howards End is the story of the intermingling of three families in the early 20th century in England. The Wilcoxes are upper class, the Schlegels are middle class and the Basts are lower class. With a cast led by Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen, this story of cross-class differences and secrets is bound to delight audiences.

I have a confession to make: I have heard of the book, but I have never read it. That will soon be remedied. In the meantime, I was completely taken in by the first episode and as of now, I plan on completing the series.

Sanditon was started by Jane Austen just months before she died. An eleven chapter fragment of a novel, respected television writer Andrew Davies continued where Austen left off. Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) is part Elizabeth Bennet and part Catherine Morland. The daughter of a large landed gentry family from the country, Charlotte is young and eager to spread her wings.

When an offer comes her way to visit Sanditon, an up and coming seaside resort, she immediately says yes. But Sanditon is a different world than the world she grew up in. One of the people she meets is Sydney Parker (Theo James, who played the infamous Mr. Pamuk on Downton Abbey), the brooding and sometimes rude younger brother of the couple who she is staying with.

For many Austen fans, Sanditon is a what-if experience. With only eleven chapters completed, we can only guess what the completed novel would have looked like. As an adaptation, so far, I have to say that I am impressed.

Like his previous Jane Austen adaptation, Davies knows when to stick to the script and when to add a little something extra.

What I liked about the series so far is that unlike most Austen heroines, Charlotte’s main reason for going to Sanditon is not to find a husband. Most of her heroines (with the exception of Emma Woodhouse) are motivated to marry because of family pressure and/or financial needs. Charlotte goes to Sanditon to see the world and experience life outside of the family that she grew up in. She is also curious about the world and shows interest in certain subjects that would not be deemed “appropriate” for a woman of this era.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes. It is a love letter to Austen fans and contains plenty of Easter eggs if one knows where to look.

I recommend both.

Howards End and Sanditon air on PBS on Sundays nights at 8:00 and 9:00 respectively.

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