Between 27 January and 18 March 1817, Jane Austen wrote her final, unfinished, novel Sanditon, meaning a town built upon sand. This blistering satiric anatomy links hypochondria, property speculation, and consumerism—invalids seek out seaside resorts, property prices rise, and developers cash in on the new health fads of sea air and sea-bathing. In Sanditon, Austen demonstrates her modernity, her courage, and her worldliness. Yet again.
Jane Austen knew all about hypochondriacs, because Mrs. Austen was one. I cannot forgive her for occupying the sofa after a busy day gardening, while Jane lay dying on two chairs shoved together (Jane died on 18 July 1817). But as Mary Musgrove says in Persuasion, “I am very far from well; and Jemima has told me that the butcher says there is a bad sore-throat about. I dare say I shall catch it; and my sore-throats, you know, are always worse than anybody else’s.”