Jul 072014

Emma and ElizabethA Compelling and Captivating Rendition of The Watsons

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Publisher

Upon seeing the title of this book you might first assume that it is a fascinating and brilliant mash-up of Emma and Pride and Prejudice, and while you are correct about the story being both fascinating and brilliant, the heroines of this tale are not Emma Woodhouse and Elizabeth Bennet; they are the youngest and eldest Watson sisters, Emma and Elizabeth – characters from Jane Austen’s unfinished and abandoned fragment known as The Watsons. Instead of writing about any Bennets, Elliots, or Austens, author Ann Mychal makes her Austenesque debut with a novel that tells the story of the recently reunited Watson sisters and their lives in Stanton, a quiet village in Surrey.

I applaud and admire Ann Mychal’s approach to The Watsons, I love how she started the story with her own words and perspective rather than utilize Jane Austen’s 17000 word fragment in its entirety. Ms. Mychal does use quotes and bits of dialogue from Jane Austen’s manuscript, and she also begins with the same premise and most of the characters Jane Austen created, but she makes this story her own by not following what, according to Cassandra Austen, was Jane Austen’s intent with these characters. And by doing so, Emma and Elizabeth is different from all the other continuations for The Watsons in outcome – one I found infinitely more satisfying!

What I loved most about this novel was the wonderfully drawn, comedic, and lovable characters! I adored our heroine, Emma Watson, with her high morals and very decided opinions – who, perhaps, shares her judgmental opinions a little too freely (reminded me a little of a cross between Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse). I loved sweet, selfless Elizabeth and her unquenchable thirst for town gossip; young, irrepressible Charles Blake with his boundless enthusiasm for just about everything (so adorable, loved his speeches); and the “great and grand,” Lady Osbourne, who believes herself to be a superior authority on everything, but is more gentle and resigned than overbearing.

The gentlemen of this tale did not disappoint either! I enjoyed Ms. Mychal’s portrayals of Tom Musgrave, who is well-known for being an insincere flirt; the charming, well-mannered, and proper, Mr. Howard; and Lord Osbourne, who is socially awkward, reserved, and a little reminiscent of another well-loved Austen hero, (especially when he unintentionally offends Emma at the local assembly). I love the depth, complexity, and personality Ms. Mychal gave to all of these men, and I loved witnessing their interactions with the Watson women. This entertaining and exemplary cast of characters continues (yes, there’s more!) with a fussy father, a flighty friend obsessed with redcoats, and many more charming and dynamic inhabitants of Stanton!

In addition to such a splendid cast of characters, Ms. Mychal crafted a story that is enthralling and entertaining. With surprise engagements, sudden marriages, a failed elopement, a grand ball, and the disappearance of Emma’s aunt there is much to excite and delight, and I found myself entirely engrossed by these characters and their world. If I were to quibble about anything for this novel, it would be the brevity and sparing descriptions of the long-awaited proposal scenes, but, as we know, that is very much Jane Austen’s way, and no one can fault Ann Mychal for wanting to remain true the author’s style.

Brava, to Ann Mychal for creating an outstanding and praiseworthy rendition of The Watsons! Written with an astute knowledge of the time period and an unmistakable devotion to Jane Austen and her world, Emma and Elizabeth is a deeply satisfying read that I receives my highest recommendation!

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  49 Responses to “Emma and Elizabeth – Ann Mychal”


    Thanks for your great review! Added it to my beach reading!


    Ooh, this sounds good! I’ve added it to my wishlist. I have never read The Watsons either, will have to give it a go.


    I have read several books which complete Jane’s story so this one is a must…if only to make a comparison. Sounds very interesting. And I thought of Mr. Bingley immediately when you mentioned Charles Blake. (irrepressible Charles Blake with his boundless enthusiasm for just about everything ) Lovely review – as usual, Meredith.


      Thank you, Sheila! Yes, this Charles Blake is definitely what I’d imagine a young Charles Bingley would act like! 🙂 I have only read one other continuation for The Watsons so far, hope to read more. Although, I may be a bit biased after reading this one! 😉


    Sounds great! I wrote my undergraduate thesis on The Watsons and tried unsuccessfully to complete it, so my hat is off to Ann Mychal. One question: is it possible to get a paper copy? I don’t do Kindle.


    I enjoyed The Watsons completed by John Coates so I am looking forward to reading this


    Sounds interesting and entertaining! It’s always great to see new authors coming out!


    With such a great recommendation, this is going to the top of my to-be-purchased-and-read list. I can’t wait!


    Well that is a pleasant surprise. I like a bit of the different and along with Sanditon, I’ve wanted to know the ending. 😉


      Isn’t it amazing how even the unfinished fragments by Jane Austen have us captivated and intrigued! 😉 This novel was indeed a very pleasant surprise!


    Sounds wonderful!
    I’ve always been very intrigued by the Watsons and would have liked to read more of it. Some of the continuations have been disappointing, but this sounds like it’s anything but! Thanks for flagging it out, Meredith!


    What an interesting book, Meredith! I still have to read “The Watsons” but I’ve already added this one to my list! 🙂 Sounds promising and you wrote a wonderful review!


    Sounds like a promising read! I’ve always wished someone would unearth a completed Austen manuscript of the Watsons.

    You said that this continuation made some changes to what Cassandra Austen said Jane’s plans for the work were …. So does Emma decline Lord Osbourne and accept Mr. Howard or did that get changed? C’mon tell me, tell me, tell me! Please? 🙂


      If you do say Meredith please mark it as a spoiler, I don’t want to know!


      It would be fascinating to unearth such a find! I’m wondering if Jane Austen to returned to The Watsons like she did Elinor and Marianne and First Impressions, would she change a lot of it.

      Oh no, Heather, I don’t want to spoil anything! My lips are sealed! 😉


    I haven’ t read “The Watsons” so it’s been a pleasure to discover “these” Emma and Elizabeth:)
    Thanks for the smart review!


      Yes, this is a novel about Jane Austen’s “other” Emma and her “other, other” Elizabeth. Jane Austen’s “other” Elizabeth is Elizabeth Elliot. 🙂 Thank you for reading my review!


    Wonderful review! Thank you. I have read two completions of The Watsons but am
    still yearning for more and so maybe this
    will be the one to satisfy…


    It’s the first time I hear about this book. The review is good too and made me put it on my tbr list. Do keep up writing excellent reviews, Meredith.


    I’ll have to look for this one because I’ve always been curious about an ending for The Watsons!


    Thanks so much- I’m putting this one on my to-read list! It sounds like a refreshing Austen story that will resonate well with me (given my age of spinsterhood). 🙂


    Thanks for bringing this book to our attention! It sounds great & the giveaway is so generous! Thank you both very much.


    Thank for this review – I can’t wait to read the book!


    Great review!!! This sounds like a delightful read for me as it explores the unexplored characters of Austen 😀


    Great review. I definitely need to read this book. Sound really fun and interesting


    I am so glad you enjoyed Emma and Elizabeth Meredith. I was encouraged when I learned that it was inspired by The Watsons. I look forward to reading it. Thanks!


    I always like hearing about new Austen-related books. Thanks for giving such a detailed review!


    I’ll have to “tell on myself” in that although I’ve read all of JA’s novels many times, her letters, and Lady Susan, I have never read the Watsons fragment. Shame on me. If for no other reason, this entire review has spurred me to read it at my first possible opportunity. Thank you for your generosity, Ann.


    I’m looking forward to reading it. Thanks for letting us know about this book and contest.


    The Watsons and Emma Watson by Joan Aiden is available on amazon.com from several sellers for as little as 1 cent plus shipping.

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