This delightful, quick and engaging read is my 4th for the Everything Austen Challenge. If you’ve noticed, these days I’ve been reading shorter Austen works. I find that these offer the perfect respite in between longer and more challenging books, such as the historical non-fictions I plunge into head first for research most of the time. I love knowing that after a heady book I can turn to something this charming to lighten up and really help me unwind; The Watsons,by Jane Austen is a perfect read that achieves just that.
This fragment of a novel takes a slice of Emma Watson’s life and details the events that take place in a rather short time, giving us a very full picture of characters lives, personalities and flaws. Emma Watson, having been brought up by her aunt and uncle, is prompted to return home after the passing of the latter-left with no reaon to remain since her aunt decidedly chooses to restart her life with a new man. Being away from her father (who is now ill) and siblings for well over ten years, not only does Emma hardly know any of them, she must also learn how to figure them all out. This also means she must rely on the opinions shared with her by others – where rivalry is at the core of it all.
Upon her arrival, her eldest sister, Elizabeth brings her to the wealthy Edwards’ ball where she is to meet other influential people such as the Osborne’s and a certain Tom Musgrave, who has apparently captured the heart of one of her sisters; Penelope. Emma, however, has already a biased opinion of Tom based on Elizabeth’s portrayal of him. We quickly understand that a lot of this bad mouthing is the result of Elizabeth’s prior interest in Tom- to then become outshone and defeated by Penelope…
We also meet her brother, Robert, and his very manipulative wife, Jane- who doesn’t seem to like any of her sister-in-laws at all. Margaret (another of Emma’s sisters) who spent some time with them both, is especially a target for Jane. As for Robert- he is definitely not happy that Emma is back home, penniless from having been totally neglected in her late uncle’s will. He also blames the aunt for her flimsiness in darting off with a new man. Amidst all this, Emma feels like a lost soul- completely different from her siblings. Having experienced nothing but love and kindness from her aunt and uncle, all of this jealousy and opposition amongst her siblings is perplexing to her as well as quite stressful.
The story does not come to any particular conclusion- although, at the end there is a snippet from the Second Edition of the Memoir that talks about the intended story and how it would have continued and ended. Reading the Watsons was almost like watching a sneak peak from a soap- where you can pop in at any time and immediately understand the plot and what is going on. I truly enjoyed the break, entertainment and a brief look at another of Jane Austen’s delectable works…
Hungry for a quick Austen book?- The Watsons, I’d say, is the best snack-read ever!
(My next one for this challenge will be: Sandition- I’m guessing another short and sweet one;)