Sanditon, set at an eponymous beach resort, was Jane Austen’s final unfinished manuscript.
Henry James’ final unfinished novel The Ivory Tower (abandoned in 1914 at the outbreak of war) also opens at a seaside resort, Newport, Rhode Island and concerns the moral hazard of big new American money.
Working class people also inhabit beach resort towns, as in Alice McDermott’s Child Of My Heart, in which a girl’s coming of age includes babysitting for a family in a nearby seaside mansion.
Babysitting gone horribly wrong is the theme of another, maybe my second favorite (after The Awkward Age) novel of Henry James, What Maisie Knew, in which a small girl is the subject of a custody battle that is really a battle over not ever taking custody.
In Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner, a woman who has lost her children winds up with custody of her husband’s child by another woman, and in her visit to her Paris to conceive more of her own, gains not a pregnancy but a grand friendship with her husband’s new mistress, and a role to play in a revolution.
A woman up and flees her children, traveling from Russia to England, in The Beginning of Spring, by Penelope Fitzgerald, where an English family struggles to carry on as a revolution brews in Moscow … do the children reunite with their mother? Read it to find out.