Book Review: Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sandition by Jane Austen

For the month of August I'm in an Austen in August Reading Challenge, for more information click on link.
I will admit that I am not a fan of any of the three stories in this one volume by Penguin Classic. They were okay. One I liked better than the other.

Lady Susan is an epistolary. Epistolary was a popular way of writing a novel during the 18th century. It is written in the form of a letter or letters.
Jane began writing Lady Susan in 1793 or 1794, it was published in 1871 posthumously by her nephew J. E. Austen-Leigh.
Lady Susan is a wealthy widow in her late thirties. She has a daughter named Frederica that is approaching an age where she will be marriageable. Lady Susan is a gossip, flirtatious, calculating, devious, deceitful, a plotter, arrogant, prideful, disdainful, spoiled, and selfish.
Lady Susan has a plan to marry her daughter to someone she does not love, or like. Lady Susan's family perceives she is plotting something and they are on high alert. The family dislikes Lady Susan, but becomes strongly attached to Frederica.
This epistolary story was okay. I was not swept up in the story, nor did I become attached to any of the characters.
Lady Susan is an interesting character. She is certainly strong-minded and willful, even if she is not a likable character.  
If you have loved Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion, then I feel this would be a disappointment. If you are a beloved fan of Jane Austen and wish to taste all her written stories, then do read these short works.

Jane Austen began writing The Watsons in 1804, then it was abandoned. Jane's nephew Austen-Leigh published this unfinished work in 1871.
The Watsons is considered Jane Austen's only story that's main family or characters are of modest origin. Emma Watson had lived away from her family for fourteen years. She has recently come back to live with them. A few of the siblings are introduced. Emma is nineteen when she comes home. In the beginning of the story she becomes reacquainted with an older unmarried sister named Elizabeth. There is a ball and they attend. The reader is introduced to wealthy families, including the famous Osborne's. The angst of being able to marry well, but also for love, weighs heavy on Emma.
I liked this story the most. Just as I'd felt invested in the story it ended. I wanted to know what happened to Emma Watson, whom she married, or maybe not at all. Prospects for women during this time period left few options, marriage was the most common and safe choice.

Jane Austen began Sandition in January 1817, the last time she worked on the draft was March 18, 1817. Jane died the following July.
Sandition begins with a mature couple traveling in a carriage and over-turns on a road near their home. Mr. Heywood's ankle is sore. They live on the Essex coast of England in a new place called Sandition. The couple is Mr. and Mrs. Heywood. The Heywood's were considered "a respectable family." They have a twenty-two year old daughter named Charlotte who is a "sober-minded young lady, and well-read."
There is a gentleman who is interested in Charlotte, but he has been told he must marry for money.
I wonder what it will mean for this young couple that seem instantly smitten with each other? They enjoy talking about books, they quote lines from their favorite poem.
Once again just as I'd gotten accustomed and felt invested in this story it ended after chapter twelve. I wonder how it would have played-out. Would Charlotte and her new friend have married, or maybe his family would have prevented it?

Published by Penguin, Penguin Classic 1974, 2003
224 Pages
Austen in August 2012/Jane Austen/Epistolary/Unfinished Work/18th Century British Literature/19th Century British Literature

Link @ Barnes and Nobles:
Paperback $8.73


  1. I liked each of the stories/fragments in this book and saw their potential. I think it's a book meant for the die-hard Austen fans because they are unfinished and there is going to be a feeling of disappointment when you finish. I agree with you that The Watsons is the best out of them all.

  2. I found Lady Susan interesting as a way of exploring Austen's literary history and progression, but I wasn't a fan of the story or the style, either.

    I really did enjoy The Watsons quite a bit - I think it might have (or could have) been my favorite novel, if it had ever been finished.

    I was also appreciative of Sanditon, particularly as it was so much different from anything else and as it seemed somewhat autobiographically inspired.

  3. I keep seeing kind of mix of reviews on these stories, especially the unfinished ones. -Sarah


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