Friday, October 9, 2009

BOOK REVIEW of a Perfect Short and Sweet Weekend Read: THE WATSONS, by Jane Austen

This delightful, quick and engaging read is my 4th for the Everything Austen Challenge. If you’ve noticed, these days I’ve been reading shorter Austen works. I find that these offer the perfect respite in between longer and more challenging books, such as the historical non-fictions I plunge into head first for research most of the time. I love knowing that after a heady book I can turn to something this charming to lighten up and really help me unwind; The Watsons,by Jane Austen is a perfect read that achieves just that.




This fragment of a novel takes a slice of Emma Watson’s life and details the events that take place in a rather short time, giving us a very full picture of characters lives, personalities and flaws. Emma Watson, having been brought up by her aunt and uncle, is prompted to return home after the passing of the latter-left with no reaon to remain since her aunt decidedly chooses to restart her life with a new man. Being away from her father (who is now ill) and siblings for well over ten years, not only does Emma hardly know any of them, she must also learn how to figure them all out. This also means she must rely on the opinions shared with her by others – where rivalry is at the core of it all.

Upon her arrival, her eldest sister, Elizabeth brings her to the wealthy Edwards’ ball where she is to meet other influential people such as the Osborne’s and a certain Tom Musgrave, who has apparently captured the heart of one of her sisters; Penelope. Emma, however, has already a biased opinion of Tom based on Elizabeth’s portrayal of him. We quickly understand that a lot of this bad mouthing is the result of Elizabeth’s prior interest in Tom- to then become outshone and defeated by Penelope…

We also meet her brother, Robert, and his very manipulative wife, Jane- who doesn’t seem to like any of her sister-in-laws at all. Margaret (another of Emma’s sisters) who spent some time with them both, is especially a target for Jane. As for Robert- he is definitely not happy that Emma is back home, penniless from having been totally neglected in her late uncle’s will. He also blames the aunt for her flimsiness in darting off with a new man. Amidst all this, Emma feels like a lost soul- completely different from her siblings. Having experienced nothing but love and kindness from her aunt and uncle, all of this jealousy and opposition amongst her siblings is perplexing to her as well as quite stressful.

The story does not come to any particular conclusion- although, at the end there is a snippet from the Second Edition of the Memoir that talks about the intended story and how it would have continued and ended. Reading the Watsons was almost like watching a sneak peak from a soap- where you can pop in at any time and immediately understand the plot and what is going on. I truly enjoyed the break, entertainment and a brief look at another of Jane Austen’s delectable works…

Hungry for a quick Austen book?- The Watsons, I’d say, is the best snack-read ever!

(My next one for this challenge will be: Sandition- I’m guessing another short and sweet one;)


18 comments:

Meredith said...

Great review, Lucy. I actually never read Jane Austen's original fragment, but I have read a continuation by John Coates. He includes the original 6 or 7 chapters of Jane Austen's fragment (with some slight changes) and then finishes the story. I enjoyed it very much, it was a smooth transition between authors and I fell in love with this colorful cast of characters.

Dar said...

This book sounds great Lucy and what a great cover! I love your new layout-very pretty.

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Thanks for this review. I've read the bigger Austen works but I haven't read the fragments yet.

Sheila Deeth said...

I'd never heard of it, but it sounds great.

lilly said...

I have never been completely convinced to the greatness of Jane Austen. Granted I only read one or two of her books back in college days. Maybe if I go back to her writing and this time start with let's say The Watsons I'll get a glimpse of what other readers love so much after all.

Tea said...

Oh, what a wonderful review. Thanks Lucy.

Lucy said...

HiMeredith- I'd love to read a continuation and see how the author worked the ending for this one. Thanks:)

Hey Dar! It's been a while! Thanks for the compliment- I know you love pink too:)

Hi Elizabeth- I didn't know about these shorter works before doing the challenge. I'm glad I found them though- it's a nice break- Thanks:)

Hi Sheila- I think you'd really enjoy it:)

Lilly, you are too funny! You know what..you should really get back into it with one of these short reads- even Lady Susan was fun. Thanks:)

Thanks Tea!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

I loved reading this review! Thank you! As you know, I've read Jane's Minor Works for the Everything Austen Challenge. I found Sanditon and The Watsons really promising fragments but , to my astonishment, I loved her devilish LADY SUSAN.
Have a nice weekend!

Ms. Lucy said...

Hi Maria Grazia- My next one is Sandition-and yes, you were my inspriation to read thes:)
I'll be reading Lady Vernon and Her Daughter soon...can't wait to see what they do with Lady Susan! (she's the type you so love to hate;)

Amanda (A Bookshelf Monstrosity) said...

Left you an award on my blog :)

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

This book sounds lovely...thanks for sharing.

Nina said...

Thank you for the great review. This story sounds so interesting! I love reading Jane Austen Novels, they are so beautiful and well written. :) I'm going to put this on my tbr list.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

I like the look of your blog, especially in pink. So it deserves The Great Look Award.
See at http://flyhigh-by-learnonline.blogspot.com/2009/10/mixed-saturday-posting.html

Marie Burton said...

I tried to post yesterday from the iPhone but it gets finicky..
so I just wanted to say I enjoyed your review.. and I look forward to one day owning and reading all of the original Austen's... I think I will read Lady Susan next.

Book Bird Dog said...

Never realized there were so many Austin books. Must pick one up sometime soon :)

Jenny Girl said...

Great idea to read Austen's shorter works in between those hefty tomes! How else can we manage to fit everything in? Excellent review and looking this one up right now :)

Zibilee said...

Great post! I have a lot less familiarity with the lesser known books of Austen, but it sounds like something that I would really like. Hopefully I will get the chance to read this soon.

sallymandy said...

Your reviews are great, L. Thanks. I have not heard of this book before.