The novel centres on Charlotte Heywood, the eldest of the daughters still at home in the large family of a country gentleman from Willingden, Sussex. The narrative opens when the carriage of Mr and Mrs Parker of Sanditon topples over on a hill near the Heywood home. Because Mr Parker is injured in the crash, and the carriage needs repairs, the Parkers stay with the Heywood family for a fortnight. During this time, Mr Parker talks fondly of Sanditon, a town which until a few years before had been a small, unpretentious fishing village. With his business partner, Lady Denham, Mr Parker hopes to make Sanditon into a fashionable seaside resort. Mr Parker's enormous enthusiasm for his plans to improve and modernise Sanditon has resulted in the installation of bathing machines and the construction of a new home for himself and his family near the seashore. Upon repair of the carriage and improvement to Mr Parker's foot, the Parkers return to Sanditon, bringing Charlotte with them as their summer guest.