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Lady Susan / The Watsons / Sanditon

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Together, these three works - one novel unpublished in her lifetime and two unfinished fragments - reveal Jane Austen's development as a great artist.

Lady Susan, with its wicked, beautiful, intelligent and energetic heroine, is a sparkling melodrama which takes its tone from the outspoken and robust eighteen century. Written later, and probably abandoned after her father's death, The Watsons is a tantalizing and highly delightful story whose vitality and optimism centre on the marital prospects of the Watson sisters in a small provincial town. Sanditon, Jane Austen's last fiction, is set in a seaside town and its themes concern the new speculative consumer society and foreshadow the great social upheavals of the Industrial Revolution.

211 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1871

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About the author

Jane Austen

3,030 books64.1k followers
Jane Austen was an English novelist whose works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature, her realism and biting social commentary cementing her historical importance among scholars and critics.
Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer. Her artistic apprenticeship lasted from her teenage years until she was about 35 years old. During this period, she experimented with various literary forms, including the epistolary novel which she tried then abandoned, and wrote and extensively revised three major novels and began a fourth. From 1811 until 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon, but died before completing it.
Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century realism. Her plots, though fundamentally comic, highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew's A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer. The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture.

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5 stars
2,479 (21%)
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3 stars
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138 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,085 reviews
Profile Image for emma.
1,867 reviews54.4k followers
June 24, 2023
for many years, i knew about this book, and owned this book, and desperately wanted to read this book, and yet i was unable to make myself do so.

because it was crucial to my well-being and ability to remain a human person that i was able to pretend that i haven't read everything jane austen ever wrote.

but after years of strength and determination, i was no longer able to resist. i read this. and now i'm done with jane forever. unless we make some serious frankenstein-esque scientific progress, or someone commits some believable literary fraud, or a huge discovery is made in the desk in the austen museum by nicolas cage and a lemon juice code...i will never read anything new from ms. austen.

and to that i say: NOOOOOOOOO!

i did not know this is straight up 10 chapters. this is approximately 1/6 of a jane austen book. the beginning sixth, where we're meeting our various clowns and the love interest has done the plot equivalent of walking past an open door in the background of an irrelevant conversation.

i didn't know what little time i had.

and still this managed to be sharp and funny and i desperately wish it was, you know, an actual book.

send any genies you discover my way.

bottom line: i will never be the same again.

Profile Image for leynes.
1,111 reviews3,027 followers
September 26, 2022
The person who edited this bind-up edition of these three fragments seemed hella weird and sometimes even rude in her commentary of Austen's work, so I'm not sure if I would particularly recommend this Penguin Clothbound edition, however, my rating is only reflective of Austen's work, not the introduction and notes!

Lady Susan (5 stars)

A new favorite. Lady Susan is such a sassy, petty, conniving little character. I can't believe that young Jane chose her as a protagonist. She's almost the exact opposite of all other Austen heroines. Lady Susan would've most likely been the villain in any other Austen story. She has affairs with married men, is generally a flirt, doesn't care for the feelings and wishes of her daughter, is overall quite egotistical and has no fucks left to give. I honestly have to stan!

The Watsons (4 stars)

Truly a promising start for a Jane Austen novel. I cannot believe how much plot and momentum Austen put into these first 60 pages. This was so exciting and fast-paced. I would've loved to see Miss Emma Watson as a heroine, see her refusal of Lord Osborne, her deflection of Tom Musgrove, and her stirred feelings for Mr Howard. It would've been so sweet, and fun. Sure, Emma is a bit of a Mary Sue, and it's not clear why all of these men of power and money would fall for this poor, foreign girl, BUT I DON'T CARE. I loved it!

Sanditon (2 stars)

The only disappointing story of the bunch but I'm not even that mad. This fragment couldn't convince me because I found most characters rather dull and not much happened in these first 60 pages. Sanditon, the seaside resort, could've been such a cool and usual setting for an Austen novel but alas! we don't see much of it in this first draft of the beginning. Austen's writing definitely felt more mature, and it's fitting that this was more slow-paced, but I'm not sure if Sanditon would've blossomed into a new Austen favorite the way Lady Susan has or The Watsons most likely would've.
Profile Image for Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun).
312 reviews1,980 followers
May 5, 2020
Why don’t people talk about Lady Susan more? I mean I know it’s Jane Austen but I still didn’t expect it to be this brazenly fun.
The Watsons and Sanditon…surprised by how depressing these were to read. I thought I’d steeled myself to the idea of them being fragments, but turns out I hadn’t fully. Still thoroughly enjoyable, and I’m glad to have these characters now populating my head, but mostly they just made me sad and resentful of Regency-era medicine. But at least now I can watch the new Sanditon adaptation, which promises to be decadently terrible.
Profile Image for Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨.
1,097 reviews674 followers
May 4, 2019

✨ Popsugar Reading Challenge 2019✨
✨✨A book published posthumously✨✨

When researching for this years Popsugar Reading Challenge there was no doubt in my mind that I had to read one of Jane Austen's posthumous novels, because she is a favourite author of mine. Luckily I found this gem which contains 3 of her posthumous novels! Lucky me, I say!!

The Watsons is the unfinished story of Emma Watson, who returns home to her family after being fostered by an aunt and now has to re-aquiant herself with her family.
Lady Susan is an epistolary novel about the newly widowed Lady Susan, who is on the prowl for a second advantageous marriage.
Sandition follows the life of a wide cast of characters in an up-and-coming seaside town.


Jane Austen ����: From the very first sentence I felt at ease and at home. Austen's writing is so witty, up-beat and so utterly recognisable that it felt like rediscovering an old acquaintance.

The variety: The more known Austen novels all pretty much follow the same pattern and the same topics. These three, however, truly showed the variety of Austen's genius. They were so different in not only writing and subject, but in feeling and sentiment as well. It truly showed me, that had the world not lost this formidable woman so early, we could have had many more delightful and insightful books from her hand.

Lady Susan: This book in particular was a deviation from the usual Jane Austen novel. We are used to Austen's heroine's being witty, bright, righteous and kind. Lady Susan, however, was none of these things. She was cold, calculating, manipulative and a flirt. But also her circumstances were different from teh usual virginal Austen women. Lady Susan was widow with a teenage daughter. And then of course there was the style that this book was written in - letters! Quite different from any other Austen novel.

"I congratulate you and Mr. Vernon on being about to receive into your family, the most accomplished coquette in England."
- Mr. De Courcy, Lady Susan

The Watsons: My favourite of this collection was without a doubt the unfinished The Watsons simply because it had all the makings of a classical, witty and romantic Austen book. Emma Watson was witty, bright, kind and beautiful. She moves in good society, has many sisters and the attention of some admirable men, each in their own way. I so wish this novel had been finished. Luckily, Austen had actually told her sister, Cassandra, how she intended the book to end, and I can only say, that reading what she imagined would happen only made me wish even more, that she had actually gone through with it!

Profile Image for The Books Blender.
701 reviews96 followers
September 9, 2018

C'è poco da fare: Jane Austen è una specie di sigillo di garanzia!
Ogni sua opera è affascinate e avvincente e coinvolgente… anche quelle incompiute!

Ho apprezzato molto Lady Susan, romanzo particolare nel 'palinsesto' della Austen in quanto scritto sotto forma di epistolario.
La protagonista è diversa dalle eroine cui siamo abituati: egocentrica, egoista, vendicativa, ma tremendamente intelligente, sagace e abile nel manipolare l'animo altrui. Alla fine, direi, tutto è bene quel che finisce bene, ma è una lettura avvincente.

'I Watson' e 'Sanditon' non sono da meno e è impossibile non notare gli echi di 'Orgoglio e Pregiudizio' o dell''Abbazia di Northanger' o di 'Mansfield Park'.

Purtroppo, però, queste due opere sono incompiute e, quindi, lasciano tanta tristezza al pensiero di come la Austen avrebbe, alla fine, potuto aggiustare queste storie e consegnarle a noi lettori.
Sono convinta che anche queste sarebbero state dei capolavori!
Profile Image for ·Karen·.
617 reviews767 followers
June 1, 2013
Remarkable that the grease stained pages found down the back of the sofa or stuffed into a drawer or still on the desktop when Jane Austen died should be so entrancing 200 years later. And Margaret Drabble's intro is judicious and knowledgeable.

I have now read almost (but not quite) everything that JA wrote; her Juvenilia would make me a 'completist'. Horrible word. It sounds like some Orwellian newspeak term for someone who goes round co-ercing people into committing suicide.

She may well have been right to abandon The Watsons as it is a bit samey, P&P all over again, but oh boy would I have loved to read Sanditon. There are all the signs of a fascinating take on the changeover from visiting friends or family, or being formally introduced to their friends and family, to the commercial business of tourism.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,385 reviews405 followers
November 11, 2022
Interesting to read through them but nothing that becomes my new favorite Austen
Profile Image for Mónica Cordero Thomson.
504 reviews64 followers
April 26, 2019
Me he divertido mucho releyendo y recordando la novela epistolar de Lady Susan.
Los Watson, me ha parecido bastante lúgubre y oscura, teniendo en cuenta como escribía Jane Austen. Parece que está llena de tristeza.
Y me ha encantado lo poco que tenemos de Sanditon, una pena que este inconclusa.
Imprescindible para los fans de Jane Austen.
A mí me ha encantado.
Profile Image for Kathleen Flynn.
Author 1 book409 followers
January 16, 2020
Watching the absurd miniseries prompted me to reread Sanditon. It's not a book I know well because reading it usually makes me sad, knowing why she didn't finish it.

This time, for some reason, I did not have that reaction. Perhaps I can thank the miniseries. What I chiefly noticed is how funny it is, and how razor-sharp its insights about people. Nor am I the first or the last person to notice the irony of Austen, already suffering from the mysterious illness that would kill her, is spending her last months on earth imagining energetic hypochondriacs at a health spa. Well, irony. She was always good at that.
Profile Image for Rosh.
1,570 reviews1,826 followers
December 1, 2020
I am a Jane Austen completist, having read all six full-length novels authored by her (some of them being reread multiple times): Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. However, one novel that almost always escapes public attention is ‘Lady Susan’. At 180 pages, it is not considered by many to be a full-length work but more of a novella, and is hence never listed among the above-mentioned renowned novels.

‘Lady Susan’ happens to be the only epistolary novel written by Jane Austen in her adulthood. (Some of her younger works collected under ‘Juvenilia’ include a couple of epistolary stories.)
An epistolary novel, just in case you aren’t aware of the term, is a novel where the entire story is revealed through correspondence from/between the characters. The usual form of correspondence is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used. Recently, electronic "documents" such as recordings, blogs, and e-mails have also been incorporated into epistolary books. (Case in point: The Martian by Andy Weir which mainly uses v-log entries)

The epistolary novel was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries but due to much satirical ridicule, it slowly fell out of use in the late 18th century. Jane too abandoned the epistolary structure after ‘Lady Susan’. (Some think that her lost novel ‘First Impressions’, which was redrafted to become ‘Pride and Prejudice’, may have been epistolary; after all, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ contains an unusual number of letters quoted in full and some play a critical role in the plot. ‘Sense and Sensibility’ was also originally written in the epistolary form.)

Now let’s come to ‘Lady Susan’. Supposedly written in 1794 but not published until 1871, this lovely little novella describes the schemes of the eponymous lead. If you think Emma was the most selfish of all lead female Austen characters, wait till you meet Lady Susan. Devious to the core, her only concern is with establishing her own comforts even if at the cost of her own daughter’s happiness. She is not your typical goody-two-shoes Victorian heroine but a sugar-coated Machiavelli who keeps trying to manipulate everyone and everything as per her requirement. Being an epistolary novel, the entire book except for the last chapter unfurls through letters written by some character to another.

Considering that Jane Austen wrote this at about 20 years of age with the lead character at age 35, it's really an undervalued piece of writing. It’s amazing to see how the virginal Austen portrayed a villainous heroine without having even experienced the brutalities of the world. The only downside to the book is that aforementioned last chapter. The story goes that Jane wrote all the letter parts at 20, kept the idea of the book aside thereafter, and some years later, in a desire to complete the book, wrote the final chapter. That time lag is pretty evident in the hurried nature of that chapter, the sole purpose of which is to tie up everything together and end the story somehow. This results in an abrupt, rushed ending, deviating from the overall flow and yes, affecting your reading experience too. If you can forgive this flaw, Lady Susan will work its charms on you.

Jane Austen never submitted ‘Lady Susan’ for publication. Maybe she just wrote it as an experiment, or maybe she didn’t consider it a good enough story. No one will ever know her thoughts about this book. But reading this novel is an insightful experience into the mind of the young Austen, who is still a hugely popular and beloved author more than 200 years after her death.
The only movie adaptation of Lady Susan, retitled ‘Love & Friendship’ after Austen's juvenile work of that name, stars Kate Beckinsale in the titular role. While not a box office hit, it received critical acclaim and is considered among the better Jane Austen screen adaptations. In other words, safe to watch. :D

Fun fact: The manuscript of Austen's Lady Susan is the only surviving complete draft of any of her novels.

My copy of the book has two more books included. Here’s a very brief insight into the remaining two works.
The Watsons - A book that Jane started in 1805, then abandoned after the death of her father. The few chapters she had written show her usual ability to build up the characters. It is regretful that she didn’t complete this book. It would have been a great read. The story is a bit like a mix of Sense & Sensibility and Emma, but as it's incomplete, we shall never know what Austen planned for it.

Sanditon - Begun by Jane a few months before her death, Sanditon shows Jane's obsession with good health at that stage of her illness. With a good start to the story, the book uses the then-prevalent ideas of the benefits of seaside places to build up this place called Sanditon, the ultimate coastal town for health care. With just eleven chapters written before she abandoned it due to worsening health, one can’t really pass any comment on Sanditon except for wondering what a loss it was to Janeites.

Join me on the Facebook group, " Readers Forever! ", for more reviews and other book-related discussions and fun.
Profile Image for Melcat.
282 reviews26 followers
August 1, 2022
I wanted to read everything Austen had done, and that included the three stories of Lady Susan, The Watson (unfinished) and Sanditon (also unfinished).

Lady Susan has a great plot idea and I love the epistolary form but you can see the ending was a bit rushed and overall the story isn't as polished as it could have been. The Watson started well, and you can really feel some similarities to Pride and Prejudice (maybe that's why it was discontinued). I really did not enjoy Sanditon, to my surprise, and skipped most of it.

It was actually quite depressing to read an unfinished story. Austen apparently told Cassandra (her sister or cousin, I can't remember) the planned ending for the Watson, so that was great to at least know the direction the story would have taken if it has been finished.

These three stories should be read in an edition that has some sort of introduction to give more context and information, I don't think you should read them on their own.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
153 reviews716 followers
April 10, 2023
“If my opinions are wrong, I must correct them—if they are above my station, I must endeavour to conceal them.”

Adorabile! Il mio racconto preferito? I Watson! Mi intristisce il pensiero che la Austen abbia deciso di abbandonarlo, perché ne ero molto intrigata. So che alcuni autori hanno deciso di continuarlo, tra cui anche una sua nipote, ma è ovvio che non sia la stessa cosa.
Lo stesso discorso vale per Sanditon, di cui almeno abbiamo una versione televisiva, che può colmare un vuoto.
Lady Susan è uno dei racconti più divertenti che abbia mai letto, grazie al personaggio di Susan, senza scrupoli quanto "leggendaria".
Jane Austen rimane sempre la più piacevole delle compagnie, anche nei momenti più difficili.
Profile Image for ☠tsukino☠.
1,195 reviews134 followers
March 22, 2019
davvero un peccato!!

Lady Susan è il mio idolo, peccato che tutti i suoi sotterfugi non abbiano avuto successo. Sembra il personaggio più negativo, in realtà è il più genuino; lei ammette di manipolare le persone, gli eventi, al contrario di tutti gli altri che lo fanno, ma pensano di essere persone migliori.

I Watson ha molti punti un comune con Orgoglio e Pregiudizio, ne sembra proprio una prima versione.

Sanditon è una storia molto particolare, dove la maggior parte dei personaggi è bizzarra e assurda. Purtroppo è interrotta sul più bello. È davvero un peccato che non si saprà mai come la Austen l’avrebbe terminata. Il rammarico, per un fato che ha portato via così presto quest’autrice, è immenso.
Quando leggo libri come questo mi ricordo della differenza che c’è tra loro e i libri spazzatura, ciò nonostante questi ultimi continuano a piacermi ^. ^
Profile Image for Alba Turunen.
678 reviews209 followers
January 20, 2021
4 Estrellitas. Que pena más grande que Jane Austen no pudiera terminar algunos de sus libros. Éste ejemplar recopilatorio de algunos de sus escritos trae tres relatos:

"Lady Susan", único de estos relatos, escrito de forma epistolar y del que se hizo la película "Amor y amistad" hace unos años. Afortunadamente terminado, cuenta el episodio de la malvada viuda alegre Lady Susan y sus devaneos amorosos.

Otro es "Los Watson", libro inacabado donde conocemos a ésta familia y suponemos que la hermana menor, Emma Watson es la protagonista, en el momento en que se presenta en sociedad.

El tercero de los relatos es "Sanditon", la novela inacaba de Austen (de la que aún me he reservado de ver la serie de TV, pero caerá en breve). La protagonista es Charlotte Heywood, una joven dama del campo, invitada por unos amigos de sus padres, los Parker, a la nueva ciudad balneario de Sanditon. El señor Parker es uno de los grandes beneficiarios de Sanditon y está dispuesto a convertirlo en un nuevo Bath. Éste libro me ha recordado bastante a "La abadía de Northanger", de verdad es una pena que la autora no pudiera terminarlo, y miedo me da ver la interpretación y final que han podido darle a la serie de televisión.

De nuevo, una joyita de Jane Austen que ha publicado RBA en una edición de lujo, merece la pena leerla.
Profile Image for Yukino.
1,020 reviews
May 10, 2019
LETTURA DI GRUPPO E&L: classico di aprile 2019

Mi mancava la Austen. E grazie a questo gdl ho recuperato questa raccolta di storie, di cui due incompiute.
Lady Susan mi è molto piaciuto. E' l'unico concluso, e la protagonista è molto diversa dai soliti modelli della Austen. Scirtto in forma epistolare, mi ha intrigato. Pensavo mi potesse annoiare e invece in questo modo abbiamo potuto leggere tutti i punti di vista dei personaggi. Bello davvero.

I Watson. Carino carino davvero, peccato non sia stato finito. Abbiamo saputo come la Austen aveva intenzione di procedere con la storia, da una sua lettera ad amici (se non ricordo male). Mi ha ricordato molto Orgoglio e pregiudzio. ^^

Sanditon. Anche questa storia è incompiuta. Peccato. Se all'inizio l'ho trovata un pò noisetta, poi ha iniziato ad intrigarmi. E i malati immaginari della Austen mi fanno morire dal ridere.

Nel complesso le tre storie mi sono piaicute. Peccato davvero che non siano state finite.
Per gli amanti della Austen che non vogliono perdersi nulla di quello che ha scritto.
Profile Image for Simona B.
898 reviews3,009 followers
January 24, 2012
"C'è qualcosa di piacevole nei sentimenti che si lasciano manovrare tanto facilmente. Non che abbia invidia, né vorrei, per nulla al mondo, averne di simili, ma si dimostrano utili quando si desidera influenzare le passioni di un altro."

Oh, Jane, immensa, incredibile, dolcissima Jane: no so cosa darei per avere un altro tuo romanzo, o per poter rileggere tutti i tuoi romanzi per la prima volta. Cosa darei, seriamente, non lo so, perché la ricompensa non sarebbe in alcun modo quantificabile.

Non sono capace di spiegarvi qual'è stata la mia sofferenza nell'accingermi a leggere queste sue opere. Non tanto Lady Susan -che, per inciso, è carinissimo!-, ma con I Watson e Sanditon è stata pura sofferenza. Iniziare a perdermi nel vortice della storia e dover restare sospesa a metà, esiste qualcosa di più ingiusto? Se poi il vortice lo crea la penna ironica e tagliente di Jane, allora è finita. Credo di non essere riuscita a godere appieno di questi due 'incipit' proprio per questo pensiero fisso che occupava i miei pensieri; l'idea di non poter sapere la fine mi angosciava. E' come assaggiare un piatto buonissimo, tentare di avventarsi sul vassoio ma vedersi soffiare via tutto da sotto il naso. E' una crudeltà.

Jane, torna tra noi!
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,320 reviews18 followers
January 11, 2020
3 stars

This book contains 3 Jane Austin novels ~ Lady Susan, The Watson's and Sanditon. Sanditon is the reason I got the book and being truthful the only story I have read - at least so far - and it probably will remain that way. Jane Austen books are not my favorite classics and I find that my mind will wander while reading her works. However watching movies or TV adaptions of historical works, I do enjoy. But staying with my past performance, I do like to read the book, prior to watching the adaptation.

This was Austen's last manuscript - unfinished. Critics remark that this writing style is very much different from Austen's normal style, and has an "open and modern feel" in reference to her other novels. Not being a fan of Austen, I cannot comment whether or not this is the fact.

It is hard to really like any of the character in Sanditon. It is reasoned that Austen , already ill, did not want to leave her loving characters, which she often idealized way past the book she wrote them into, so made them unlikable. In addition health is a major theme in this book, as reasoned to be because of her own failing health. This novel also tends to the new, not the old and established that most of her other novels are settled in.

Having adapted other Jane Austen novels to film, experienced Jane Austen adapter Andrew Davies completes Sanditon for viewing. Austen wrote 11 chapters - then titled 'Brothers' and put her work aside before her death. Davies finished the story out, basing it on the town, Sanditon, for an 8 episode PBS Masterpiece series.
Profile Image for K..
3,796 reviews1,021 followers
September 29, 2016
I wanted to love this, I really did. I mean, it's JANE AUSTEN, you know?? And yet, here we are. I don't think it helped that I was slightly slumpy when I was reading this and that it therefore took me the better part of four days to get through this 200 page book.

I wanted to love Lady Susan, because it was such a unique way of telling a story. But it was so full of horrible characters that I just came out at meh. I wanted to love The Watsons, but it felt like it was speeding along without any depth and then it just ended. I wanted to love Sanditon, especially after I thoroughly enjoyed the Pemberley Digital adaptation of it a couple of years ago. But OH MY GOD SO MANY HYPOCHONDRIACS I CAN'T DEAL WITH THIS NONSENSE. And then it just ended because Austen rudely went and died.

So yeah. Maybe my expectations were too high? And I did enjoy seeing a variety of Austen's writing in one book. But on the whole, this was fine but forgettable.
Profile Image for librosgatosyte.
138 reviews
March 11, 2023
Este libro contiene tres obras, la primera Lady Susan una novela epistolar, completa y cerrada, que a pesar de ser corta no deja indiferente al lector, a mí me gustó mucho.
"Los Watson" la segunda novela que se encuentra inconclusa, de todas maneras se alcanza a vislumbrar que se trata de historia que tenía potencial para ser una de las grandes obras de Austen. También me gustó y para que decir lo que me hubiera gustado leer su final.
"Sanditon" la tercera novela inconclusa que se encuentra en este ejemplar, también me gustó, me hizo recordar las historias sobre Bath en sus otras novelas, ya que el título corresponde al lugar en que se establecería como escenario para esta tercera obra, un pequeño pueblo junto al mar, que los protagonistas querían potenciar para el descanso.
Profile Image for Sophia.
Author 5 books345 followers
May 12, 2016
I can't remember where or when I got my copy of this book. I vaguely remember getting it cheaply and being happy to have some of Austen's minor works. It sat on a shelf for many years, but then I wanted a refresher read of Lady Susan because of the upcoming movie adaption that is whimsically named 'Love & Friendship'.
Much to my pleasure and surprise, this book had a fascinating introduction of the three works that discussed the background of the stories, speculation about Austen's choice in not having the first two finished and published, and of course, where the two unfinished works were headed. There were general historical and biographical discourses as well. It was helpful and gave me a good set up to understanding before I dove into the stories themselves.

Lady Susan is a quick read as it is novella length and told in the epistolary format. While limiting and probably the reason for this being the last of her books to use the format, it was a curious work. Lady Susan carries several unique elements not the least is the nature of the protagonist, Lady Susan. She is a dark, manipulative woman who still manages to coax the reader into laughing with her and enjoying her outrageous exploits. I found her so very quotable. I also found that this darker, dangerous and more titillating story showcased the author's repertoire to be wider than her published novels would indicate. Lady Susan felt like a prototype of such sparkling, witty heroines as Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse, Marianne Dashwood, and Mary Crawford. The plot isn't as snappy as the later novels and that epilogue was a rushed piece, but I am slightly awed that a young, sheltered lady of twenty wrote it since it only hurts by comparison to her later novels and not to literature in general.

This was my first turn at the unfinished The Watsons. Oh my heart sorrows a bit not to have the completed story. The set up was a good, strong one and promised an engaging story with Emma Watson the heroine raised apart from her family and used to more genteel circumstances now back in their midst and unsure of her future. She is the interest of a high lord and a country clergyman. Her inferior family and quirky local characters make for some good humor even if Emma's situation is sobering. Yes, drat, I wanted more. At least, there was the note appended to the end sharing what Cassandra knew of how her sister planned to finish the story.

Now, on to another unfinished piece, but this one, sadly, was unfinished by the death of the author. I would have enjoyed knowing where she was taking this one after the initial set up. I always picture Sanditon as Austen's version of the 'summer read' since it is a vacation/health resort sort of town. The characters introduced are fun and quirky like I enjoy in a small town/village setting. The heroine was a moderately engaging one, but it was Mr. Parker that kept me interested. Ah, but again, I am sad not to have all the story.

All in all, this was a satisfying collection. I enjoyed the introduction, the three short pieces by Jane Austen and found the footnotes/explanations very helpful. I would definitely recommend this annotated version to other readers who want to gain some enjoyment and understanding beyond the actual stories.

In switching versions of the book mid-stream, I lost my earlier quote notes so I copied them and am putting them here:
5/3 page 47
22.0% "Where pride & vanity unite there can be no dissimulation worthy notice, and Miss Vernon shall be consigned to unrelenting contempt..." Ouch! Poor girl!"
05/04 page 50
23.0% "She is clever and agreeable, has all that knowledge of the world which makes conversation easy, and talks very well with the command of language, which is too often used I believe to make black appear white."
Mrs. Vernon's opinion of Lady Susan. o_O"
05/11 page 64
30.0% "....I am not afraid. I trust I shall be able to make my story as good as hers. If I am vain of anything, it is my eloquence." Lady Susan preparing to outwit her daughter. Poor Frederica!"
05/11 page 85
40.0% "There is something agreeable in feelings so easily worked upon. Not that I would envy him their possession, nor would for the world, have such myself, but they are very convenient when one wishes to influence the passion of another."
What a vixen!!!!"
05/11 page 90
42.0% "Oh wow! The line, the line... the movie took it right from the novella when Lady Susan tells her friend 'of what a mistake were you guilty in marrying a man of his age!- ...too old to be agreeable, and too young to die. *snort*"
05/11 page 95
45.0% "What could I do? Facts are such horrid things!" Alas, the wheels have started to come off for Lady Susan."
Profile Image for piperitapitta.
964 reviews354 followers
March 4, 2020

Lady Susan *****
[inizio lettura 11/04/2013 - fine lettura 12/04/2013]
Perfida e adorabile Jane Austen che con Lady Susan dà vita alla più manipolatrice tra le donne riuscendo persino nell'impresa di fartela amare e fare il tifo per lei e per i suoi matrimoni: quelli che s'hanno da fare quelli che non s'hanno da fare, senza riuscire a capire, fino alla fine, quali siano gli uni e quali gli altri.
Il tutto attraverso uno scambio epistolare incrociato.
Profile Image for Annie Machuca.
346 reviews29 followers
March 30, 2019
Había olvidado estas historias!! Ame las cartas de Lady Susan, son muy divertidas y es una verdadera lástima que no pudo terminar de escribir los Watson y Sanditon.
Profile Image for Katie Long.
279 reviews59 followers
March 19, 2022
I have avoided reading this unfinished novel from my dear friend Jane for so many years because I was worried that I would love it, and then be disappointed that I’ll never know how she planned to finish the story. Yep, I was right. It’s such a wonderful set up, man, I wish she had finished it!
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