The Watsons by Jane Austen

The Watsons by Jane Austen is an unfinished novel, but encompasses many elements from her finished novels, such as Emma and Sense & Sensibility.  Elizabeth and Emma Watson hail from a poorer family than the Osborne or the Edwards families.  Emma had been living with an aunt for many years, only to return home to a sickly father and a devoted sister, Elizabeth, who has not married despite her advanced age to care for their father.  The story begins with Elizabeth escorting herself to the Edwards’ home before the ball.

“‘I am sorry for her anxieties,’ said Emma, ‘ — but I do not like her plans or her opinions.  I shall be afraid of her.  — She must have too masculine and a bold temper.  — To be so bent on marriage — to pursue a man merely for the sake of situation — is a sort of thing that shocks me; I cannot understand it.  . . . ‘” (page 110)

Again we see Jane Austen’s insistence that marriage for wealth or improved situation are appalling, yet often done in society.  Emma is a bit more outspoken than Elizabeth Bennet, while Elizabeth has a sense of duty to the family, much like Elinore in Sense & Sensibility.  The sickly father is reminiscent of the father in Emma.  In may ways, The Watsons seems to be a starting point for many of Austen’s novels or at least an earlier work that inspired her to keep writing.

Although unfinished, readers can clearly see where the story would have gone eventually given the sickly nature of Emma and Elizabeth’s father.  One of the most interesting parts of the work are the relationship or lack there of that Emma has with her other brothers and sisters.  The love interests in the novel range from a self-indulgent, young man to an older Lord who knows his place in society and believes women should just fall for him instantly no matter how distant and self-indulgent he is.  Of course, there also is the quiet preacher who has caught the eye of a wealthy woman, but has a silent adoration for another.

The Watsons, like Austen’s other completed novels, has a depth that may be missed upon first reading, but her characters remain enduring and witty.  Gossip is prevalent in many of her novels, but the Watsons provides a great deal of snide remarks and backhanded comments.  Another enjoyable Austen read.

**Thanks to Anna for letting me borrow her copy so I could finish the Jane Austen Challenge.  I’ll probably be reading the other two novels in the new year.***

This is my 14th and final book for the Jane Austen Challenge 2010.  I’ve officially completed my 9th challenge.

This is my 10th book for the Everything Austen II Challenge.


  1. great job on this challenge and the others you did! i still have yet to partake in a challenge…maybe in 2011??? as for unfinished austen, i wasn’t even aware of the watsons but am eager to get my paws on it! have a wonderful new year!!

    • I hope that you’ll take a look at my fearless poetry challenge for 2011. You only have to read 1 book of poetry to complete the challenge.

  2. You did great on the Austen challenge and this is one I need to add to my library!

  3. Glad you enjoyed it! I felt like I’d got to know Emma enough to really like her. Wish we could have seen more of the hero. It’s so similar to her other novels in many ways that I’m not surprised that she didn’t finish it.

    • I wonder if she wrote it and then just ended up pulling pieces of it into her other novels. I think it had great potential. . . I especially liked watching Emma try to fit in with her own family after being raised by an aunt.

  4. Serena – you might also enjoy The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig. She blended in character and elements of The Watsons in her new novel. Here is my review if you are interested. http://wp.me/p8oRe-3dI I loved it!

  5. Despite being a fan of JA I did not know of this book so thank you for the heads up.

    • Finding these unfinished novels has been a joy. You can see the beginnings of Austen’s talent and her ability to incorporate a number of story lines into one.