Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Jane Austens unfinished works

After finishing Wuthering Heights (I will get a review on it up shortly), I was in dire need of something new to read. And that plus a necessary trip to the library equaled me bringing home a collection of Jane Austen's unfinished novels, The Watsons and Sanditon.
Now, I used to avoid reading them, because I was sure it would be unnecessarily frustrating to fall in love with a story and with the characters, only to be cruelly told that it would never be finished.

And let me say, that assumption was entirely true. But on the other hand, it was worth the pain, just to be able to read something in Austen's wonderful writing style, that I had never read before.

But let me start at "The Watsons". It's only about 60 pages long, and the main purpose is introducing all the characters and setting the scene. Nevertheless I was completely drawn in after only a few pages.
The story's heroine Emma Watson is just returning to her family, after having been raised by an aunt, and is introduced to the social life of the neighbourhood.
She is a true Austen heroine - observant, clever, wilful, kind - she reminded me a lot of Elizabeth Bennet, except she is more perceptive of her surroundings, but that's also due to the fact that she is entering a completely new ring of acquaintances. I am really impressed at how well Austen manages to describe her and the other persons, on such little space.
And that makes it even more tragic that she never finished it. My only consolation in the matter was that it was mentioned in a postscript, how Jane Austen intended for it to end.

And then Sanditon. Now that one is completely different from anything else Austen have written. At first I didn't quite know what to think of it. Firstly the heroine is almost nonexistent. I mean, she is there the whole time, but you don't know much about her when the story ends off other than she is sensible, unaffected and perceptive. But it is almost like the story is not so much about her, but more about all the crazy different people she meets on a vacation at a bathing resort in Sanditon.
But the descriptions of those persons is just brilliant. Before Austen even starts to describe the persons, you already know what sort of people they are, based on what they do and say - and we're talking max a half page here. And the irony...oh the irony and the sarcastic remarks made by the author...I don't think I have come across so many funny sentences and observations in so short a story before. Almost all the characters get their amount of ridicule, especially those who fancy themselves sick (and it takes place at a bathing resort, so there are a lot of those).
But again, the story cruelly ends, just when you want it to start, and as the reason Austen never finished it was that she died, you can only make guesses as to how it will end.

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