Austenesque, Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Regency Era

The Watsons, by Rose Servitova and Jane Austen — A Review

The Watsons, by Rose Servitova and Jane Austen (2019)

From the desk of Debra E. Marvin:

Author of The Longbourn Letters, Rose Servitova’s candid preface in The Watsons intrigued me as much as the concept of someone taking on an incomplete Austen manuscript. It’s believed Miss Austen began the story around 1803, but it was no more than a partial manuscript at the time of her death. Published in that form by her nephew in 1871, the original document is safely archived ‘as is’ with her edits and revisions. Once I began Ms. Servitova’s novel, I immediately trusted her efforts—dare I say chutzpah—to be the latest to co-author with Jane Austen. What delicate kid slippers to fill!

You’ll not be surprised to learn the story centers on a particular family of a kind, well-read, possibly dying gentleman lax in providing for his adult daughters. Around them, a circle of friends and acquaintances carries on with the business of gossip and country balls. Our protagonist is nineteen-year-old Emma Watson who’s returned home unexpectantly after being a long-time ward of her wealthy aunt and uncle. Because of this, both her family and their neighbors are practically strangers to her.

“Yes. Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor- which is one very strong argument in favour of matrimony. She must marry, and I pray that it will happen soon,” said Elizabeth, “that she may rob a gentleman of his fortune and us of her company.”

Emma’s fourteen years away have produced a well-spoken and well-mannered young woman now surprised by the rather rough edges of two manipulative sisters, and the novelty of being the newest single female in want of a husband. Continue reading “The Watsons, by Rose Servitova and Jane Austen — A Review”

Austenesque, Blog Tours, Book Previews, Regency Era

The #Janeite Blog Tour of The Watsons, by Rose Servitova and Jane Austen Begins on November 18th

The Watsons, by Rose Servitova and Jane Austen (2019)There is something intriguing to readers and writers about an unfinished work by an author that they admire. Everyone wants closure in their life, and certainly in their fiction! Therefore, I was very excited to learn that there would be a new novel completing Jane Austen’s unfinished fragment The Watsons, by Rose Servitova.

I had read and enjoyed Servitova’s debut novel, The Longbourn Letters, and was very impressed by her ability to neatly turn an Austenesque phrase—and it also just made me laugh. It was on my Best of 2018 list for Austenesque novels and I highly recommend it.

Following in the wake of a successful first novel is always a challenge to authors, so I was curious to know what she would write about next. Choosing to complete The Watsons was not what I expected, but a welcome surprise. It takes a confident and capable writer to complete an Austen novel. I was eager to see if she could pull it off.

In celebration of its release, The Watsons is going on a blog tour. Here is additional information about the book and the tour running November 18th—29th, 2019.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  

Can she honour her family and stay true to herself?

Emma Watson returns to her family home after fourteen years with her wealthy and indulgent aunt. Now more refined than her siblings, Emma is shocked by her sisters’ flagrant and desperate attempts to ensnare a husband. To the surprise of the neighbourhood, Emma immediately attracts the attention of eligible suitors – notably the socially awkward Lord Osborne, heir to Osborne Castle – who could provide her with a home and high status if she is left with neither after her father’s death. Soon Emma finds herself navigating a world of unfamiliar social mores, making missteps that could affect the rest of her life. How can she make amends for the wrongs she is seen to have committed without betraying her own sense of what is right?

Jane Austen commenced writing The Watsons over two hundred years ago, putting it aside unfinished, never to return and complete it. Now, Rose Servitova, author of acclaimed humour title, The Longbourn Letters: The Correspondence between Mr Collins and Mr Bennet has finished Austen’s manuscript in a manner true to Austen’s style and wit.

EARLY PRAISE: Continue reading “The #Janeite Blog Tour of The Watsons, by Rose Servitova and Jane Austen Begins on November 18th”

Austenesque, Book Reviews, The Watsons Sequels

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 Continue reading “Brinshore: The Watson Novels Book 2, by Ann Mychal – A Review”

Austenesque, Book Reviews, The Watsons Sequels

Emma and Elizabeth: A story based on The Watsons by Jane Austen, by Ann Mychal – A Review

Emma and Elizabeth Ann Mychal 2014 x 200From the desk of Jenny Haggerty:

For those who love Jane Austen’s novels, her early death is a tragedy we feel anew each time we contemplate the scant space she takes up on our bookshelves. What Austen fan doesn’t long for more than six completed novels, especially since she left behind several tantalizing story fragments? Of these Sanditon is the most polished. Austen was working on it as a mature author shortly before she died, but it’s an earlier fragment, The Watsons, that has one of my favorite scenes in all of Austen’s work. Emma Watson’s exuberant dance with 10-year-old Charles Blake caught the eye of every man at the winter assembly and won my heart. Though Austen never finished Emma’s story, her sister Cassandra knew what she planned, and several authors, including Austen’s niece, have written endings. Ann Mychal’s version titled Emma and Elizabeth intrigued me because Elizabeth is Emma’s older sister. I was eager to read an adaptation featuring both sisters.

Mychal’s opening is wonderfully Austenesque: “When a young woman, on whom every comfort in life is bestowed has the misfortune to inhabit a neighborhood in which peace and harmony reign, her ability to perceive and understand the world must be diminished and, consequently, in need of adjustment.” Emma’s adjustments start as the book begins. After years of living with her wealthy uncle and aunt, she is returning to the family of her birth whom she hasn’t seen since her mother died when she was five. Though their father was ever dutiful to his parishioners, the other Watson children lived like orphans, with eldest sister Elizabeth shouldering the drudgery of caring for them all.
Continue reading “Emma and Elizabeth: A story based on The Watsons by Jane Austen, by Ann Mychal – A Review”

Jane Austen in the News

Jane Austen Original Manuscript of The Watsons Attains Record Auction Price in London Today

The Watsons Manuscript from BBC News (2011)

The Watsons, one of the very few original manuscripts by Jane Austen that still exist has sold at Sotheby’s in London today for a whopping £993,250 ($1.6m), three times the estimated price! The unfinished manuscript was the last remaining of Austen’s work to be owned privately and will now live in splendor at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. This is the best news possible for those (like me) who were concerned that the manuscript would disappear into private hands and not be exhibited to the public.

You can watch these three videos by the BBC explaining the importance of the manuscript and watch the final gavel fall to close the sale. Enjoy!

Curious about Jane Austen unfinished novel? Read my review of the Naxos audiobook production of The Watsons.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Jane Austen in the News, Jane Austen's The Watsons, Jane Austen's Works

Rare Jane Austen Manuscript of The Watsons to be Auctioned at Sotheby’s in London

First page of The Watsons original manuscript, by Jane Austen (1803-1805)

An incredibly rare handwritten manuscript of Jane Austen’s unfinished work The Watsons will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in London on July 14th, 2011. It is valued at £200,000 to £300,000.

The Watsons is a fragment of a novel that Austen began around 1803 when she was residing with her parents and sister Cassandra in Bath. Written during an unhappy time in her life, she did not complete it, most likely due to her father’s death in January 1805. It contains five chapters and is about 17,500 words in length. Because it is a rough draft neatly written in Jane Austen’s own hand, we see her edits and corrections in progress, offering us a unique window into the writers mind.

When Austen died in 1817, her sister Cassandra inherited the untitled manuscript which passed upon her death in 1844 to her niece Caroline Mary Craven Austen (1805 – 1880), the younger daughter of Jane Austen’s eldest brother James. Upon Caroline’s death, the manuscript was inherited by her nephew William Austen-Leigh who offered the first six leaves (12 pages) for a charity sale in 1915 during World War I to benefit the Red Cross. The manuscript was auctioned at Christies in London and sold for £65 to Lady Wernher. This portion of the manuscript was later sold in 1925 to J. P. Morgan, Jr. and now resides in The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City.

The remaining pages would pass to Lionel Arthur Austen-Leigh and his three sisters who were the nephew and nieces of William Austen-Leigh and where displayed at the British Museum for many years. It was sold in 1978 to the British Rail Pension Fund, who in 1988 presented it for auction at Sotheby’s in London attaining £90,000 from Sir Peter Michael. It is now on deposit at Queen Mary, University of London, where Sir Peter was once a student. Shockingly, in 2005 a portion of the manuscript was lost by the University! A full investigation revealed no clues to their disappearance. The missing pages have yet to be found.

The Watsons is an important manuscript in Austen scholarship. By 1803, she had written her juvenilia and three novels, Elinor and Marianne, First Impressions and Susan. These three novels would later be reworked and published as Sense and Sensibility in 1811, Pride and Prejudice in 1813 and Northanger Abbey in 1817. Austen scholar Claudia L. Johnson states in her 2003 introduction in the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sandition that:

The Watsons thus stands as an unfinished bridge between the animation of Austen’s youthful work and the greater sobriety of her later phase.”

The Watsons touches upon one of Austen’s familiar themes: unmarried ladies challenged by their families and financial deficiencies. The heroine Emma Watson has been raised by a wealthy aunt with the advantages of education and refinement. Her two elder brothers and three sisters remained with their widowed father, a sickly and impecunious clergyman barely able to discharge his parish duties and definitely not in control of his three quarrelsome unmarried daughters who reside with him in the Surrey village of Stanton. When Emma’s aunt remarries, she is sent back home to find mercenary husband hunting the order of the day for her two sisters Penelope and Margaret who think nothing of stealing others beaus. Her solace is with her eldest sister Elizabeth who attempts to keep the family a float with frugality and cheer. Residing in the neighborhood is a titled family whose loutish son Lord Osborn is attracted to Emma while her sister chases after his social-climbing friend Tom Musgrave.

As an Austen enthusiast, we can only hope this portion of The Watsons is purchased by a library, museum or similar institution and displayed to the public. Of course its ideal home would be to re-join the first 12 pages at The Morgan Library in New York.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Austenesque, Book Previews, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Holiday Reading, Regency Era, Regency Romance

A Preview of The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas, by Lauren Willig

I feel like a giddy schoolgirl. Look what arrived on my doorstep today. An advanced reading copy of The Mischief of the Mistletoe, by Lauren Willig! *major goosebumps*

I have been a fervent fan of Ms. Willig’s Pink Carnation series since the day it landed on the new release table in my B&N store in 2005. If you have not had the pleasure of reading any of the novels in the series just think Scarlet Pimpernel meets Georgette Heyer with a dash of Jane Austen thrown in and you’ll get my drift. They are romantic comedies set during the Napoleonic Wars laced with espionage, intrigue, and wit. Of all the contemporary historical novelists, Lauren Willig is nonpareil in my book. Like Georgette Heyer her historical details are spot on, her plots imaginatively engaging, her heroines admirable and heroes swoon-worthy. It does not get much better than this.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe is due to release on October 28th so you’ll have to be patient a bit longer. Janeites will be thrilled to discover that Lauren has drawn her inspiration for her heroine, Arabella Dempsey, from Jane Austen’s personal correspondence and her unfinished novel The Watsons. Austen even makes a cameo appearance! Here is the publisher’s description: Continue reading “A Preview of The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas, by Lauren Willig”