Hesperus Press, pb, 66 p.
The youngest daughter of a widowed clergyman, Emma Watson has been brought up by a wealthy aunt, where she is given a genteel education and the expectation of independent means. However, when her aunt suddenly makes a reckless second marriage, Emma is obliged to return to her father’s house and be reunited with her estranged siblings. Initially delighted with her new life, Emma soon realises that her family harbours many ill feelings, not least those springing from her sisters’ hopes – and disppointments – in snaring husbands. When she begins to attract attention from the nearby titled family and their associated friends, the result can only be further sibling rivalry and unrest.Watching the BBC TV movie of Persuasion recently put me in the mood for more Austen. I didn’t really have time for one of her novels so I picked up this short piece, a lovely Hesperus Press edition. It’s a fragment of an earlier unfinished story, so it’s a little rough, but very enjoyable all the same and it ended far too soon. It’s such a shame it never got completed. At the end there is a short synopsis of how Jane had intended to continue the story, according to her sister Cassandra, that made me wish all the more that the story didn’t end where it did. However, it was interesting to see some hints in these characters of her other well-known and beloved characters, as well as her usual keen eye for observation and wit. I suppose a little bit of Jane is always better than none!
Although never finished, The Watsons is a delightful and exquisitely drawn portrait of family life. Taking marriage as her central concern, Jane Austen captures in miniature the well-known, and well-loved, themes of her more famous novels.
Emma Watson was not more than of the middle height, well made and plump, with an air of healthy vigour. Her skin was very brown, but clear, smooth, and glowing, which, with a lively eye, a sweet smile, and an open countenance, gave beauty to attract, and expression to make that beauty improve on acquaintance. Having no reason to be dissatisfied with her partner, the evening began very pleasantly to her, and her feelings perfectly coincided with the reiterated observation of others, that it was an excellent ball.Read The Watsons online
(#52 for 2008, Austen Mini-Challenge)
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