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Thursday, 8 July 2010

Minor works

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Jane Austen's minor works - Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon. Lady Susan is a novella and complete in itself. The Watsons is about 50 pages of a novel as is Sanditon.

Lady Susan is written in the epistolary form and presents a picture of one the nastiest most manipulative fashionable ladies in fiction I think. She descends on friends and relatives at a moment's notice and stays too long. She delights in enticing men away from their wives or girl friends - for the hell of it. Her own interpretation of her conduct is of course completely different. She has no qualms about adultery or about treating her teenage daughter something like a parcel - moving her between friends and schools and trying to marry her off to someone rich and gullible.

The Watsons is about a family living in a small village on very little money. Emma Watson has just returned from several years living with an aunt. The Aunt has re-married and Emma has lost any hope she might have of being left any money. The story centres on the intereaction between a group of country families. By the end of the fragment it is unclear whether Emma will end up with Mr Howard - the local clergyman - or Lord Osbourne - who seems to have a passing resemblance to Mr Darcy.

Sanditon is about a seaside village which two local landowners - Mr Parker and Lady Denham - are hoping to turn into a fashionable seaside resort. Mr Parker has Charlotte Heywood staying with him and his family in return for being looked after following a carriage accident. There are many hypochondriacs of all ages who are brought vividly to life and the village is described in some detail. If the book had been finished I can't help feeling it would have been as good as anything else Jane Austen wrote. Unfortunately it was left unfinished when she died.

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