Brinshore: The Watson Novels Book 2, by Ann Mychal – A Review

Brinshore 2015 x 200From the desk of Jenny Haggerty:

Open any of Jane Austen’s six completed novels and you’re guaranteed a moving story told with wit and insight, but what fan doesn’t wish Austen had time to complete more books. That’s why I treasure well done Austen-inspired fiction, so when I discovered Ann Mychal had written Brinshore, her second Austen themed book, I was full of hopeful anticipation. Mychal’s first novel, Emma and Elizabeth, is among my favorite adaptations. It completes Austen’s intriguing unfinished novel The Watsons by telling the story of two Watson sisters, Emma and Elizabeth, daughters of an impoverished clergyman. The girls were raised separately under very different conditions but reunited when they were both young ladies. Brinshore continues the tale, this time focusing on their daughters Emma (named after her mother) and Anne, and it takes its inspiration from another of Austen’s novel fragments, Sanditon.

Cousins Emma Osborne and Anne Musgrave could not be more different in temperament. Emma is an outspoken girl, direct in her opinions in the mode of her Mr. Darcy-like father, Lord Osborne, while Anne is a gentler, nature-loving soul who goes into rhapsodies over a piece of seaweed. Neither girl has experienced the hardships of their mothers because both of those women married well. The novel opens in 1816 so the wars with Napoleon are over and Captain Charles Blake will soon be returning to their community, a circumstance that Emma awaits with much excitement.

The end of the wars also means that people are ready to enjoy themselves more, and in that spirit the girls’ utterly practical, unromantic Aunt Harding (reminiscent of Charlotte Collins) shocks everyone with a big announcement. She’s decided to sell the Chichester house she shared with her now-deceased husband to move to Brinshore, a tiny seashore town not far from Sanditon, and she’s inviting both her nieces to come to stay with her. Anne is excited right away–the seashells she can collect! The tide pools she can sketch! But Emma is indifferent, she’d rather go to more fashionable Brighton, until she learns that Captain Blake will be spending time in nearby Sanditon.

Emma has known Charles Blake since childhood, he was like a big brother to her, but while he was away at war she’s fallen in love from afar. He’s beneath her in station, but that’s not a problem. While her grandmother hopes she’ll marry an earl or duke, her parents treasure their own loving relationship and would approve the match if it would make Emma happy. The problem resides in Charles himself. He is so good-natured and affable to all that it’s difficult to determine if he returns Emma’s affection in kind. Plus he seems to have a lot more in common with Emma’s equally amiable and nature-obsessed cousin Anne, a situation Emma is blind to.

Add to this mix Mr. Fitzroy, who is working with Charles Blake on some mysterious, yet to be disclosed project. He and Emma bump heads immediately, almost literally, when Emma steps into the street without looking and is practically knocked down by his gig. When she demands that he take note of her now muddied frock he responds, “Charming, though a little too fancy for shopping.” He believes she’s spoiled; she thinks he’s rude. Unfortunately (or not?), they’ll encounter each other again and again through their connection with Charles Blake.

There are thrilling intimations of Austen throughout the story, including characters and well-known lines from her novels, but Emma hasn’t read any of Austen’s books. When Mr. Fitzroy gives her a copy of Pride and Prejudice she at first has no interest, assuming by its title that it’s a book of moralizing sermons, maybe by Mr. Fordyce. Because she’s attractive, clever, rich, and tries her hand at matchmaking, Emma Osborne has qualities in common with Austen’s more well-known Emma, which can make her a little hard to love sometimes (Austen described her Emma as a character that no-one but herself would like much), but her boldness leads to acts of courage and compassion, and she’s certainly no snob, so she won my heart.

Mychal’s book also has some of Austen’s wonderful humor. Emma’s Aunt Harding, for instance, is as besotted with Brinshore as Mr. Parker from Austen’s Sanditon is of his town, and the two of them compete ridiculously in this book, each scheming to make their chosen locale the next hot spot. Austen assumed her readers were aware of the historical circumstances of her stories since they were written during the time that they were set, but I enjoyed all the explicit touches of history Mychal adds to her story.

Witty and entertaining, Mychal has breathed new life into a novel remnant Austen had to leave incomplete, creating a story with appealing characters, complicated courtships, emotion tugging family dynamics, a solemn deathbed promise, and a deeply satisfying ending. Add to all that the scenic beachside setting and I’m happy to report Brinshore pleased me as much as its predecessor, more even because of the added pleasure of catching up with old friends.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

Brinshore: The Watson Novels Books 2, by Ann Mychal
J G Books (2015)
Trade paperback & eBook (280) pages
ISBN: 978-0992879532

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

Cover image courtesy of J G Books © 2015; text Jenny Haggerty © 2015,

Disclosure of Material Connection: We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This entry was posted in Austenesque, Book Reviews, Regency Era and tagged , , , , , , , , , by Jenny Haggerty. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jenny Haggerty

I post reviews on various book related sites including BookLikes which you can find here: and I have Jane Austen specific reviews on AustenProse here: More about me? I'm a long time book lover and was sneak reading books under my desk in elementary school. Back then I wept as I read Carolyn Haywood's "B is for Betsy", was transformed by seeing that the less than perfect Meg Wallace--a girl much like me--could be the main character in "A Wrinkle in Time", and longed to have adventures like the mystery solving Trixie Belden. Once out of high school I indulged my passion by spending four years reading The Great Books at St. John's College in Annapolis, MD, which is where I first encountered Plato, Jane Austen, Dante, Chaucer and Tolstoy among others. Today my tastes are eclectic. I love history, mystery, biography, classic novels, YA, steampunk, popular science, literary fiction, urban fantasy, scifi (sometimes), and etc. And I've managed to earn a living as a reading tutor, trying to develop a love of books in students who struggle with words on a page. My reviews are largely positive because there are too many books I'm dying to read for me to take the time to finish and then write about books I don't adore.

11 thoughts on “Brinshore: The Watson Novels Book 2, by Ann Mychal – A Review

  1. Thankfully I was already planning to visit the library this morning–because this book sounds fantastic and I can’t wait to read it! Thanks for a great review–

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Don’t Miss These: | Regency Reflections

  3. Hello Jenny,
    Thank you so much for the lovely review! I honestly couldn’t have summarised the novel as well as you! And thank you for your great comments. You can’t imagine how encouraging it is to hear them!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good review. I have not read the first book but have it on my TBR pile and will now have to add this one. Thanks for the review. I have read at least one other variation of this book of JA’s.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Austenprose’s Best Austenesque & Jane Austen Era Books of 2015 | Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog

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