Book Review: The Watsons by Jane Austen

watsonsTitle: The Watsons
Author: Jane Austen
Genre: Classic fiction
Publisher: Hesperus Classics
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy that was a gift from a friend
First line: The first winter assembly in the town of D— in Surrey was to be held on Tuesday, 13th October and it was generally expected to be a very good one.

Oh, I wish so much that Jane Austen had finished The Watsons! All of my fellow Austen fans can relate to that feeling of wishing she had completed more novels before her early death. I re-read my favorite, Persuasion, once a year, and plan to re-read the rest, too – but something new from her was such a huge treat! The book isn’t finished, but does include notes in the back about how Austen intended it to end.

Emma Watson has been raised by her wealthy aunt, and a huge dowry was her expectation. When her aunt imprudently remarries and moves, Emma is returned home to the bosom of her family – a family she hardly knows. She now needs to make a match without the benefit of a large income.

Austen only wrote the first bit of The Watsons, which mostly takes place at a ball. Those of you who love Pride and Prejudice will find a bit of that here, the same goes for fans of Emma. The manners, the social niceties, the gossip, the characters – everything we love about Austen is here. The only downside is that just as I was sucked into the story, it ended. Sigh.

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20 Responses to Book Review: The Watsons by Jane Austen

  1. Kathy says:

    When I first saw your review, I thought it was strange that I wasn’t familiar with that Jane Austen book. I’m not sure I want to read it since she didn’t finish it.
    .-= Kathy´s last blog ..That’s How I Blog! =-.

  2. heidenkind says:

    Aw, it sounds like a great book! I’m not sure I want to start it if I’m not going to be able to finish it, though. :(
    .-= heidenkind´s last blog ..Tempt Me at Twilight =-.

  3. Joani says:

    Carrie,
    I wonder what Jane would have thought if she’d realized that about 200 years after she’d started a story whch she left unfinished, SEVERAL people would be thinking about that very story on the very same day? I just sat down at the computer to find out if there was ever a movie based on the Watsons, and here I find you’ve posted something about the book and Kathy has poses a question which I am happy to adivise her on!

    Kathy, by all means do read the book (I’m referring to the one finished by John Coats), I think you will enjoy it as I did. Though John (as a writer) isn’t Jane, and I don’t think you’ll find the quality of memorable lines or witisicims that Jane would have surely included, it’s still worth reading.

    Long Live Jane!

  4. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies
    says:

    Kathy and Tasha – i thought I would feel that way, too – but since her notes on how it would have continued and ended were there, it wasn’t as hard as I thought.

  5. Trisha
    Twitter: Trish422
    says:

    I’ve thought about reading this, but I’m not sure I can read something that doesn’t end. It just sounds too frustrating. I’m glad you still liked it!
    .-= Trisha´s last blog ..13 Days of Halloween: Whuhdjamacallit =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Trisha – it wasn’t as frustrating as I thought it would be – just nice to immerse myself in her world for even an hour.

  6. Michael OCD says:

    I always meant to read at least one by Austen — the closest I’ve ever gotten was the Jane Austen Book Club movie.

    But now that her novels are combined with Zombies and Seamonsters, I *have* to read the originals before tackling these new ones.
    .-= Michael OCD´s last blog ..Chokin’ on Vampires =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Michael – yes, you must – start with Pride and Prejudice – it’s mostly dialogue and reads very quickly. Then you can read the zombified version. :)

  7. JoAnn
    Twitter: lakesidemusing
    says:

    I’ll definitely be reading this soon…maybe before the end of the Everything Austen Challenge. Thanks for the review.
    .-= JoAnn´s last blog ..A Bloggy Birthday! =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      JoAnn – I added it to my Everything Austen list, even though it wasn’t originally planned – but it counts, right?

  8. S. Krishna
    Twitter: skrishna
    says:

    I’ve never even heard of this one, I feel so ashamed! Thanks for the review.
    .-= S. Krishna´s last blog ..Haunting Bombay – Shilpa Agarwal =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Swapna – I’d never heard of it until Michelle brought me home a copy from England – she got to go to the Jane Austen Museum in Bath!

  9. Joani says:

    Anyone desperate for “more Austen” I would strongly recommend Pamela Aidan’s trilogy written from Darcy’s point-of-view. Definitely read them in order though. Some people didn’t like the middle book – very different, but for some reason I liked it better the second read through. I’ve read the series through at least 4 times now. Can’t speak for others, but I could vividly picture a young Colin Firth as Darcy in all of these books – the inner tension of his self-struggle trying deparately to overcome his growing love and admiration (pitted against his concern about society’s disapproval) for Lizzie is very well-done. She also bring’s Darcy’s sister into full bloom and reveals a spiritual depth to both of them. But it’s Darcy’s valet that steals the show at times – a “real character” and that’s truly a “Play on Words” if you catch my drift! This trilogy has “mini-series” written all over it . . .

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Joani – My best friend loves that trilogy – I’m going to have to borrow them from her!

      • Joani says:

        My recommendation is to buy a used set online – you will probably want to read them several times over the years (they are great for “Austen Withdrawal Syndrome!”) and don’t be surprised if she hesitates to loan them . . . ! Either way, enjoy!

  10. Kim
    Twitter: BookstoreK
    says:

    I’ve read all of Austen, why only six novels! I wish she had finished Watsons, but so glad it was published and not tossed. Reading Pride and Prejudice to my daughter now, having a blast. As we learn about a character, we think of people we know in our lives are similar. We may have a few too many Mrs. Bennetts.
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..Recommended Reading for Black Tuesday – “Babylon Revisited” by F. Scott Fitzgerald =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kim – I would love to read an Austen to my daughter – wonder if she’d go for it? How old is your daughter?

  11. Joani says:

    Carrie,

    I wish I had read it to my daughter! I would say that probably age 12 and up, depending on the girl. In today’s world it will take some explanation about the culture of the time to understand why Lydia’s running off with Wickam would have had such disasterous repercussions for her other sisters, as well as her own status in society, and also why Darcy so cautiously guarded his own sister’s reputation – that he divulged it to Lizzy indicated he trusted her implicitly, despite her penchant for teasing him.

    I think it gives one much food for thought in the area of looking for the right match in personality, goals, etc. in a potential spouse. While women no longer have to depend on men for their provision (or “marry up” in status as Mrs. Bennet hoped they would) or security, the charming character of Wickham (who later pleads the “victim” when exposed as a cheat and a womanizer) gives excellent insight to young women about not rushing into relationships based on “First Impressions.” The reverse also being true – that sometimes a negative first impression (by Darcy in this case) might eventually prove a very suitable match – once the pride is brought under control and the foundation of integrity and a good character is revealed.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Joani – I think my daughter is ready – she’ll turn 13 in two months. And I agree – much to be learned from the decisions of the various sisters.

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