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The Watsons

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The Watsons - Jane Austen - 1803/1805

Mr. Watson is a widowed clergyman with two sons and four daughters. The youngest daughter, Emma, has been brought up by a wealthy aunt and is consequently better educated and more genteel than her sisters. But when her aunt contracts a foolish second marriage, Emma is obliged to return to her father's house. There she is chagrined by the crude and reckless husband-hunting of two of her twentysomething sisters. She finds the sardonic wit of her eldest and most responsible sister, Elizabeth, more attractive.

 

Living near the Watsons are the Osbornes, a great titled family. Emma attracts some notice from the boorish and awkward young Lord Osborne, while one of her sisters plaintively pursues Lord Osborne's arrogant, social-climbing friend, Tom Musgrave. Various minor characters provide potential matches for Emma's brothers and sisters.

 

Mr. Watson is seriously ill in the opening chapters, and it is clear that Austen intended for him to die in the course of the work. Emma would apparently reject consequence for comfort in marrying the Osbornes' frank and virtuous young tutor.

 

Jane Austen only wrote 17,000 words of this novel. The question is, why did she quit writing such a wonderful book? It could quite possibly have been that the sudden death of her father caused her to put it on hold, and then she forgot it. Nobody quite knows the real reason, though. This is only a speculation.

Being a huge Austen fan, I just had to read this even though it is an unfinished copy. At the end, there is a short summary of what Jane Austen told her sister how she would have wanted to finish the novel.

 

I quite agree with the writer of the quote that this would have been a wonderful piece of work, certainly just as good as her other great novels. It is so sad that she didn't live longer to write more fantastic stories.

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Being a huge Austen fan, I just had to read this even though it is an unfinished copy. At the end, there is a short summary of what Jane Austen told her sister how she would have wanted to finish the novel.

 

 

The one I have has been "finished" by someone else, which is what made me buy it - I was intrigued and had to see how successful this could be.

I haven't got back to it yet, but I hope to do so this week!

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Yes, I read that a cousin of hers had finished the novel but I couldn't find a copy anywhere. Must look into it deeper.

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My version was finished by Merryn Williams in 2005. (ISBN 1-904754-93-7)

It's published by Pen Press, which I've just discovered is a vanity outfit.

 

I've not got to the new bit yet, and I'm very wary. I bought it out of curiosity as much as anything.

 

I'm enjoying it so far, but I don't think it's up there with her finished stuff. I find the characters a bit flat compared to my favourites. It's a bit racy too - Tom Musgrave falling down drunk on their lawn, Margaret throwing herself at him, Lady Osborne having an affair ... is this really Austen??

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It's a bit racy too - Tom Musgrave falling down drunk on their lawn, Margaret throwing herself at him, Lady Osborne having an affair ... is this really Austen??

 

Ooh that doesn't sound at all like the fragment I read. As far as I can remember the fragment of The Watsons is really very small and only has one or two scenes. The trip into town and the dance, and then a typical washing day at the Watsons in which the family is introduced.

 

I also read a finished version which had been 're-written' by Joan Aiken using the same characters and ideas from the original manuscript but I can't say I enjoyed it. It wasn't in the same league as her novel "Jane Fairfax" based on Emma.

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I'm enjoying it so far, but I don't think it's up there with her finished stuff. I find the characters a bit flat compared to my favourites. It's a bit racy too - Tom Musgrave falling down drunk on their lawn, Margaret throwing herself at him, Lady Osborne having an affair ... is this really Austen??
I don't think so since this was not in the part that I read. In my copy there is just the dance, more or less and the next morning. So whatever you read must be from the follow-up author. That's why I would prefer to read the one written by her niece (looked it up in the meantime), at least that would be more her time (the niece lived from 1818-1877) and she might have talked to her sister about it.

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Yes, you're right - I've just checked my Everyman edition of Sanditon and Other Stories, and I've now gone past the bit that she wrote.

I had actually forgotten that the fragment was in this edition when I bought the new one.

I don't feel so inclined to go on with it, now!

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I have a 1958 edition completed by John Coates.

 

It's not too bad, and the characters stay true to what JA could have written.

 

It isn't available, except at some special places. I bought it at Abe, I think that's the name, it was so long ago, I forget.

 

The language is good too - not JA of course, but not too non-JA.

I enjoyed it very much.

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It's very good to have you back with us at last, Austenreader. :D

Some of your old posts were rescued from the Google cache after BGO was restored to us, and can be found in the restored threads.

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