Hardcover - 221 pages ( 1September 1996)
Hardcover - 221 pages (23 May, 1996)
Orion; ISBN: 0575062711
The author is pretty safe here because JA only barely introduced the characters before abandoning the project. So, the Watsons, Osbornes, Edwards' really are Aiken's characters. And, I think that she does develop them quite completely. She does mostly follow JA's start; Emma is sensible, Elizabeth is hard-working and good-hearted, Margaret is shrewish, Robert is cold and calculating, Jane is selfish and grasping.
The plot is okay; quite busy and contains actions that I do not think that we would ever see in an Austen novel; illicit love affairs, marriage without familial approbation and horse-racing to name a few. There are also tragedies, but it does have a happy ending. The ending, however, is very abrupt. There is a very short postscript that tells what happens to each couple. In several places, she borrows lines from one or the other of JA's novels. That is okay with me; JA's words are always welcome!
recommend that you give this book a try. It is pretty
simple and is a quick read.
I didn't care too much for this characterization of Emma Watson. She came off as sharp and shrewish, with few redeeming softening qualities. Just before her father dies, Emma meets a navy captain through her friend Mrs. Blake (in this version Mr. Howard's sister is not a widow but a navy wife). After this first meeting, Emma is quite taken with Captain Freemantle (I wasn't, I thought he talked way too much, about very little, to someone he had just met). The Captain and Mrs. Blake come to spend an evening with Mr. Watson, who likes Captain Freemantle immensely. This meeting confirms Emma's opinion of the captain as well.
The day after this meeting Mr. Watson dies (Emma is blamed for his death, by the way) and Emma is left penniless. She is sent to Croyden to live with Robert and Jane Watson, where she becomes governess to their little girl, who is a horrid child. From there the story gets a little disjointed. Emma's Aunt Turner comes back from Ireland (after her brute of a husband has gambled away all her money and shot himself in the head) so Emma ends up living with her in Epsom where she takes in pianoforte students in order to make ends meet.
Emma gets a letter from Captain Freemantle telling her he loves her, and when he finally comes back, she marries him.
couldn't warm to this Emma, I couldn't like Captain Freemantle,
and this soured me for the
ending. If you should happen across this book, by all means try
it, but I cannot in good
conscience recommend that you buy it.
From the second edition of the Memoir, 1871, p. 364.
When the author’s sister, Cassandra, showed the manuscript of this work to some of her nieces, she also told them something of the intended story; for with this dear sister - though, I believe, with no one else - Jane seems to have talked freely of any work she might have in hand. Mr. Watson was soon to die; and Emma to become dependent for a home on her narrow-minded sister-in-law and brother. She was to decline an offer of marriage from Lord Osborne, and much of the interest of the tale was to arise from Lady Osborne’s love for Mr. Howard, and his counter affection for Emma, whom he was finally to marry.
Although Joan Aiken does not really follow the "instructions" left by Jane Austen through her sister Cassandra, I found Emma Watson quite enjoyable to read. Emma Watson is a likeable character who shows much more sense than her siblings. She was adopted by her rich aunt after the death of her mother, but returns home to her family after her aunt’s remarriage.
Emma Watson begins approximately where Jane Austen’s novel fragment finishes, but recapitulates enough of the previous events so that the reader who is unfamiliar with Jane Austen’s The Watsons will not be lost and confused.
We meet all of Emma's siblings soon after the story begins. The characterizations of Emma’s siblings ring true. Her elder brother Robert and his wife Jane are as snobbish as ever, her elder sisters Penelope and Margaret are selfish and scheming, another elder brother, Sam, is amiable, and her eldest sister, Elizabeth, is generally pleasant but a little compliant.
Life continues agreeably for Emma. She has some interesting adventures and adjusts well to her new life with her family. However, her life is in turmoil again when Mr. Watson, Emma's ailing father, dies. She is forced to rely on the hospitality of her narrow-minded brother, Robert. Reduced to teaching music to her spoiled little niece, she seems to be trapped in a perpetual state of dependency since she has no way of earning money.
In the meantime, Emma has barely heard any news of her beloved aunt. Her aunt's new husband is known to be a great gambler and Emma is sure that all is not well with them.
The characters introduced by Jane Austen are developed in this novel. I had a bit of trouble in believing that Miss Osborne (a noble neighbour of the Watsons) would turn out to be such an agreeable acquaintance to Emma, and that Mr. Howard (whom Emma is initially attracted to) would lack the integrity and courage required to stand up to the intimidating Lady Osborne (Miss Osborne's mother). I was also surprised at Miss Osborne’s nonchalant reaction to the revelation of the secret concerning her late father’s imprudence. Unfortunately, the young Lord Osborne’s suit to Emma (quite apparent in Jane Austen’s fragment) was not followed through.
By the end of the story, most people are either married or soon-to-be married. However, I was unsatisfied with Emma’s choice of husband since I did not believe that she could have formed a sincere attachment after so short an acquaintance with him.
the story was quite satisfying and entertaining. I appreciated
the introduction of
Emma’s lost aunt, and thought it was a very good idea for Mr. Watson’s
sermons to be
successfully published. The gallant Tom Musgrave has a few interesting
and unexpected twists of
fate and, by the story’s conclusion, all the deserving characters are
rewarded with happiness.
happened to see Joan Aiken's continuation of this story called
Emma Watson at the library
the other day, so I got that too. It seems that she "rewrote" the
that was left by JA
before continuing with her own part. I haven't gotten into her book
too much yet, but I'm at a bit
of a loss to understand why she did such a thing.
I found the references to other JA works and her life somewhat laughable. White soup, dedicating a book to the Prince of Wales. Captain Fremantle's ship is the Laconia. Then there is a direct quote from Persuasion. "Admirals are always the best tenants you know, for they are naturally so neat and orderly." Amusing, but it made it harder for me to take the book seriously.
I don't think it
will be on my all-time favorites list, but it was interesting and well
written. I just wish that it was totally un-JA related. It would have
made it much more enjoyable.