In reading the unfinished manuscript of The Watsons I’m left wondering about Emma Watson. She promised to be one of my favorite Austen women with her balance of understanding and manner, and her sense of propriety. She demonstrates hints of earnest frankness and sincerity in a family that boasted more “family discord–from the immediate endurance of hard-hearted prosperity, low-minded conceit, and wrong-headed folly, engrafted on an untoward disposition.”
The beginnings of this work are quite a tease of what it might have been had Austen finished it. In my copy published by the Penguin English Library there is a note from the second edition of the Memoir, 1871 that goes on to explain what Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra shared of what Jane had planned for the story. I so wish she had been able to make it so. Austen had a special way of getting her heroines to their happy ending without making it feel forced or unbelievable.
As it is I must settle for a version ambitiously completed by another author. There are some wonderful Austenesque authors out there. Some I am aware of and others yet to be discovered. So I put it to you, my fellow Janites, which version would you recommend?
- The Watsons by Jane Austen completed by Jennifer Ready Bettiol
- The Watsons by Jane Austen completed by John Coats
- The Watsons and Emma Watson by Jane Austen completed by Joan Aiken
- The Watsons by Jane Austen completed by L. Oulton
- or some other version I have yet to discover?
I am inclined to read the Joan Aiken completed version as I am familiar with her Austenesque work such as Mansfield Park Revisited. However, I would like to hear from you who might have read it or any of the others. I could read through reviews, but what would you say recommends one version over another?