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! Continue reading »

Mar 272010

A Brilliant Continuation of an Unfinished Novel

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Purchased

It is always regrettable when a great author, composer, or artist leaves an unfinished work, especially when that work has the potential to become a masterpiece. Jane Austen began penning the novel Sanditon or, “The Brothers” as it was originally titled, during the last few months of her life. It was unfortunately abandoned around chapter eleven due to her declining health. In these precious chapters we are introduced to a new seaside resort called Sanditon, an emerging community that offers seaside pleasures such as sea-bathing and picturesque walks. In addition, this fragment is brimming with Austen’s customary array of diverting characters along with her ironic and satirical tone which is more biting and burlesque than ever!

Fortunately for us Janeites, several authors have attempted to continue this remarkable and promising fragment and have fleshed it out into a complete novel. These authors include: Julia Barrett, Helen Baker, Juliette Shapiro, and the one this review is for “Another Lady.” Another Lady (presumed to be a Marie Dobbs) continues the story of Sanditon where Jane Austen left off. Ms. Dobbs is quite excelled at capturing the satire and wicked wit of Jane Austen. Furthermore, she brilliantly maintained Jane Austen’s cleverly crafted characters and the concluded it all as if it was predesignated by Austen, herself. Continue reading »

Sep 222009

The WatsonsThe Watsons Fragment Completed

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars  

Source: Purchased

Jane Austen’s fragment, The Watsons, was published posthumously by J. E. Austen-Leigh and few attempts have been made to complete it. One such attempt was by Joan Aiken entitled The Watsons and Emma Watson, first published in 1996 (reissued in 2008). Another is this hard-to-find book by John Coates published in 1958. Jane Austen’s original fragment consists only of 6 complete chapters and a few paragraphs. While that may seem to some to be too short to determine Ms. Austen’s intended direction, John Coates audaciously attempts to complete this fragment while maintaining Jane Austen’s well-known witty repartee and fleshing out the lovable cast of characters she introduced.