A few weeks ago, I tweeted that I wanted to explore the sub-genre of historical romance. I’m typically a contemporary fan, with a little suspense thrown in. I got a few recommendations, which I plan to check out, but then, serendipitously, I happened to come across an ad for the show Sanditon. It’s a regency series, based on an unfinished Austen book, with what appeared to be a central love story AND it starred none other than one of my top five favorite leading men—Theo James.
A hundred gifs and Youtube clips later, Theo and his broody, top hat wearing self practically begged me: “hey girl, heard you’re looking for some historical romance. Come on over to PBS.” I was skeptical, but since I’ll pretty much do anything I imagine Theo James telling me to do, I checked it out. And IT WAS GREAT! The seaside setting, the wild-eyed innocence of Miss Charlotte Heywood, the quirky and sometimes awful characters who make up the town… Theo James! I was hooked. And then, I was gutted.
If you’ve seen this show, then you know that there is NOT an HEA. Now, I knew this going in. I did. But I’m a writer; I figured I could just make up my own ending in my head. Maybe I’d even write it down to ease my pain. (Did I just start writing fanfiction again?) Anyway, here it is:
Three ways Sanditon could have ended in a happily ever after fitting of Ms. Jane Austen herself.
Death to Mrs. Campion!
Okay. That was way harsh, Tai. Maybe she doesn’t have to die, but in this ending Eliza Campion, Miss Charlotte’s rival just… goes away. She never loved Sidney! Or at least not enough to treat him well. This is a business arrangement, and business arrangements fall apart all the time.
So say Eliza finds another suitor whom she likes better than poor Sidney. Sidney, whom she already ditched out on once, and who clearly isn’t as taken with her as she wants him to be. Maybe Lady Susan helps arrange this, since their worlds are all about to collide in London. Lady Susan is very vocal about her distaste for Eliza and her scheming, and she’s very powerful. I’m all for her manipulating London’s high society to offer Eliza something she wants more than Sidney, thus releasing him from this deal he’s made.
The problem with this ending is it doesn’t save the town Sanditon. But do I care at this point? Love is more important than business. Looking at you, Tom Parker! But I suppose that is the point of the show, so this ending is a trade-off.
Ms. Lambe to the rescue!
When Charlotte confesses her love for Sidney to her best friend and young heiress, Georgiana Lambe, she is appalled. In Georgiana’s eyes, Sidney is a tyrant who deserves none of her new friend’s affection. She has a right to think that, given her less than friendly relationship with her guardian, but as Sidney said, he is his best self, his most truest self when he is with Charlotte. (An actual quote. Gawd this show.) So Georgiana hasn’t seen this side of Sidney that Charlotte is so taken with. If Charlotte can convince her friend that what she sees is real and that their love is true, Georgiana is the perfect person to intervene on behalf of love, and she has the money needed to do it.
Georgiana was in love with a man named Otis, and she knows what it’s like to be separated from your true love due to circumstance and another person’s will. I think Ms. Lambe has also grown fond of Sanditon herself, in no small part to Arthur, Sidney’s brother. Her character is prime to come around to team Save Sanditon, and if she can save her friend in the meantime, what better investment for her fortune? In this ending, Charlotte maintains a correspondence with Ms. Lambe and through their candid conversations, Georgiana is inspired to save her friend the way Charlotte has saved her in the past.
Lady Denham, Lady Susan, and Lady Babington combine their powers.
When we last saw Lady Susan, she mentioned to Tom that a good friend of hers (implied investor) would love the little seaside town he’s trying to build. If she comes in in time with an alternate source of funding, Sidney’s sham marriage won’t have to take place. Once she knows she’ll be basically handing Charlotte her happy ever after, she’d jump at the chance. Lady Susan has been pro-love from the minute we met her. (And anti-Eliza).
But! There’s already a Lady of the town who has also expressed a bit of interest in Charlotte’s love life with her coy comment about Charlotte walking down the aisle someday soon. Lady Denham, former crotchety old bat, is inspired by the loyalty of her reluctant-toward-love niece, Esther, now a Lady herself after marrying Lord Babington. With such a revelation, and a ton of money, Lady Denham’s character arc would be complete with a grand gesture to invest her money for the sake of love—Charlotte’s. Esther, having finally accepted love into her own life, and not needing the inheritance she is due now that she’s married Lord Babington, could team up with her aunt to orchestrate a financial windfall for the town, freeing Sidney (conveniently Esther’s husband’s besty) to marry his true love.
These three powerful women, all with a special connection to both Charlotte and Sanditon, could swoop in with a last minute stay of execution, and use their fortune to save the town, thus saving Charlotte and Sidney’s love.
So there you have it—Sanditon alternate endings we deserve. If you enjoyed the show, or think you might want to watch it and imagine an ending like I did, I highly recommend checking out some of the following hashtags that have popped up to help get the series a second season: #Savesanditon, #Sanditonsisterhood, #Sanditonseason2
There is a whole army you can join—Facebook groups, letter writing campaigns to other networks— that’s hoping to get it picked up somewhere. I’m actually optimistic that it will work. I don’t know how I have any optimism left after Sidney and Charlotte ripped out my heart, but I do. Here’s hoping to #savesanditon because this is the story we all deserve.