The Watsons
by John Coates
amazon.com  (out of stock)
Hardcover Reprint edition (June 1973) 
Greenwood Publishing Group; ISBN: 0837165989 
amazon.co.uk  (out of stock)
Hardcover (May 1973) 
Greenwood Press, London; ISBN: 0837165989

       Posted by Newbee fan of JA on October 02, 1996 at 19:37:34:
On this subject, I must speak though I am recently acquainted with JA's works.  I read both Sanditon written by JA & Another Lady and The Watsons by JA & John Coates. ... For the latter I can give an OK mark, although characters are constantly consuming wine and water instead of tea-things. 

        Review by Linda Waldemar, May 27, 1997
I apologize for the long length of this post, but I needed all these words to express my feelings about this book.

I loved it!! This is a well written story with entertaining, well developed characters. There is an ample supply of wit and humor as well. The style is quite similar to JA's. The author takes JA's characters and makes them his own. The blurb on the dust jacket says that JA admirers will "find themselves wondering where the original fragment ends and Mr. Coates' contribution begins". Although I had read the fragment only a few days before, I felt this way.

While this is not Jane Austen, I think that John Coates has done a good job of borrowing from her style and characterizations. The Watsons is an impoverished, though genteel, family consisting of the following. Mr. Watson, a sickly and sad clergyman who is still, after 12 years, grieving for his deceased wife. He has four very handsome, unmarried daughters and two sons. Elizabeth, 29, the eldest is very pleasant and practical and runs the household (she reminds me of Elinor Dashwood). Robert is a lawyer who is married to an unpleasant lady (the author says that she is like Mrs. Elton) who had 6000 pounds. They live in a another town. Samuel is a surgeon, sensible and handsome and in love with an eligible young lady of the neighborhood. He also lives in another town. Penelope, 24, is beautiful, lively, witty and always teasing. Margaret is pouty and selfish. Emily (JA called her Emma), 20, is the heroine and was raised by a rich uncle and aunt. The uncle died two years before and the aunt recently remarried requiring that Emily return to her family. (Emily and Penelope together are somewhat like Elizabeth Bennet)

There are other good characters who seem to have benefited from the author's acquaintance with JA's works. Lord Osborne is a rich, independent young man of five and twenty and the principal landowner of the neighborhood. He is described as tall and a fine young man. We meet him, initially, at a ball where he does not dance and is somewhat offensive to Emily. He is immediately attracted to her and, as the novel progresses, his disposition improves. Also, he is extremely honorable (sound familiar?). Tom Musgrave is a young man of good fortune, quite independent, and remarkably agreeable who has a tendency to trifle with the hearts of the young ladies thereabouts (Henry Crawford with a touch of John Thorpe). Lady Osborne, the lord's mother, is a very entertaining character. However, I did not feel that Mr. Howard was well developed.

The story progresses much like a JA novel and ends happily for the deserving characters.

At the end of the book is an "Advertisement by the Author". In it, he says:

There are two sorts of Janeites. To the first Jane Austen is above criticism of any kind and even her fragments are sacrosanct. Neither this note, nor the preceding story, is meant for them. But there is, I hope, a second category of admirers. I meant those whose delight in her books is equaled by their regret that her books are so few. For these, and for those who aren't Janeites at all, I have written this note and what I am the first to admit is a poor substitute for the book we might have had. He goes on the explain his rationale for the characters and the completion as it stands.
I liked this book very well indeed. I would like to own it, but not at the cost of $59.75 + s/h. I also think that this could make a very entertaining adaptation. 

        Posted by Katy on May 27, 1997 at 21:48:53:
I enjoyed the book - it was a little too 'busy' for an Austen plot, but it remains the only Austen 'sequel' that I ever re-read several times just for the fun of it. 

        Posted by Cassia on May 28, 1997 at 16:18:21:
I read this book a couple of years ago but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much. Then again, it is much more in the Austen spirit than Emma Watson [by Joan Aiken]. 
       Posted by Amy on July 21, 1997 at 14:50:19:
Thank you, Linda. I wasn't up for reading a completion or sequel at the time, Darcy's Story being fresher in my experience, but this is the one I'm reading now, and I do find I like it, too. Thank goodness. Do you suppose it's age has something to do with our enjoyment of it? Is there a rule here? Don't read any Austen sequel, completion or pastiche except our own fan fic and works first published before the Kennedy administration?


        Review by Lynn Lamy, September 4, 1997
 This was pretty good.  It was hard to tell at first where the fragment ended and where the new part began.  I liked almost the whole thing, but the ending was very rushed.  It lost a little of its believability there, but it was still a fun read.

       Comments by Laura Bishop on November 26, 1998
I have read The Watsons by John Coates and Emma Watson by Joan Aiken. Of the two I prefer Coates's story much better.  Joan Aiken I didn't really care for as a author (an differently not as a writer trying to imitate Jane Austen!). She just wasn't very good that's all!

A friend of mine and I read it. We did not like who Emma marries and a lot of other things. My mother started reading it but gave up because it was not good! 


        Written by Mitch (9/3/99 1:07 a.m.)
Yes, Margaret is the angry/bitter one in the John Coates completion, which  incidently was first published in 1958 in hardcover, and reprinted in paperback in 1977.  This is, in my opinion, one of the better Jane Austen completions.

        Written by Jodi (11/3/99 6:51 p.m.)

I just read the completion of "The Watsons" by John Coates and liked it very much. If I hadn't had my own copy of the fragment I could not have figured out where her fragment ended and his completion started, for he continued in a credible imitation of JA's style. I thought it was better than the completion of Sanditon, which I still think was well done and enjoyable. He did change the character of Lady Osborne from the small amount JA had introduced in her fragment, and changed Emma's name to Emily, but this was forgivable. He explains in the back the reasons for his depictions of some of the characters, and did such a good job fleshing various ones out that I kept thinking JA would have approved. She is definitely not turning over in her grave. JA's trademarks of wit and irony were present, but the amount of irony was less than she would have managed. I was kept in suspense for a good part of the book about who Emily Watson was going to marry. I would definitely buy this book if I could find it because it was very true to what JA would write.

 
      Written by Jodi (12/6/99 4:10 p.m.)
Coates did a very good job finishing it, and kept it in the same literary style. No one could be as witty or ironic as JA but he did so well that I want to buy the completion. Unfortunately, it is out of print and costs too much ($30 +) through a used book resource.

   Written by Jodi (1/8/2000 3:04 p.m.)
At this time, I think the John Coates completion of The Watsons is the best at keeping the characters true and keeping in with JA's style.

         Written by Frances Anne  (3/22/2001 10:57 p.m.)
My only complaint with JA's work is that she wrote too few novels for my taste. As a life long fan of Austen's work, I read any sequals/ completions I can find but am not normally pleased.
Imagine my surprise then on finding a completion which I would be happy to recommend. I have just finished reading The Watsons completion by John Coates and was amazed to find myself laughing and smiling throughout most of it. I was fortunate enough to find it in a used bookstore for the grand price of $2. After  seeing the $60 price at amazon I was even happier with the bargain.

The summary on the back cover was quite silly and misleading,   "... the kisses of the arrogant yet undeniably attractive Lord Osborne warmed her to the danger point..." hmph.

Mr Coates changed Emma Watson's name to Emily. I imagine that was to avoid confusion JA's more famous Emma. I found the opening chapters somewhat jarring as I didn't find the changes made to the original either neccesary or an improvement. However, once on his own I felt he began to have more fun. Each of  the 4 sisters had distinct personalities. Penelope was particularily amusing. The writing was light hearted and most of the characters believable.

I did not care as much for the ending. It wasn't that the heroine was matched to the wrong hero so much as that that hero was underdeveloped. The author in his notes afterward states his belief that "worthiness is difficult to depict at length without dullness". I'm afraid his uncertainty in dealing with Mr. Howard led him to keep him off stage too much.

Overall I was quite pleased with the novel. It's not Jane Austen, but then I'm still looking for another author who can compare. This one managed to be amusing and sustain my interest for 308 pages. It was definately worth the read.

I'd love to hear the opinions of anyone else who has been fortunate enough to find this little gem. Imitation ivory perhaps but costume jewelry has a place too.


        Written by Katharine T (May 28, 2003 )
Another "Watsons" finisher changed parts of JA's original chapters to suit his own continuation! I was horrified. Can't remember the author, but it was an older one. 
        Written by Anita R (May 29, 2003 )
] ... changed parts of JA's original chapters to suit his own continuation! I was horrified. Can't remember the author, but it was an older one.

That might be the one by John Coates? He did change the heroine's name to Emily, and altered the character of one of her sisters. I've read it and enjoyed it! 


        Written by Hadas (June 3, 2003 )
In my opinion the best Austen sequels/completions overall are "Sanditon", and "The watsons" by John Coates (it's kind of hard to find).

        Written by Tom P2 (12/27/2007 6:54 a.m.)
This book is out of print and somewhat difficult to find, but I'm going to enthuse about it anyway, in case anyone's interested. Here's hoping that the copyright holder will put out a 50th anniversary edition. With the typographical errors corrected. And the missing parts reinstated:
The first MS of my version came to over 160,000 words. This is longer than most English publishers favour these days. Even when I had cut an entire chapter about Mr Jones in London, the MS was still overlong. So I then pruned the original fragment and the completion impartially--though not, I admit, with the same easy conscience.
-- Advertisement by the Author, after the last chapter

I'm thoroughly impressed with the plot integrity. Every character's motivations make sense. At least, I didn't find any flaws during my one reading so far. If anything, the causes and effects are too clear. For example, the matter of who marries Lord Osborne is so well foreshadowed that the only surprise is how, even for someone like myself who's not much good at predicting plot twists.

It's also very funny. I laughed out loud about as often as I do when reading P&P. That's not meant as a direct comparison, though, because JA's work is in a sense subtler and more distilled, and it's taken me several rereads to pick up on (say) 97% of the humour in P&P, whereas I'm confident of not having missed much in The Watsons. (Is there a glycaemic index for literature?) Nevertheless, JC's writing style is closely modelled on JA's, and the retort at the end of chapter 9 is an absolute gem.

I won't try to draw a lot of likenesses between characters in The Watsons and characters in JA's completed novels, because JC succeeded in his aim of differentiating them:

...my own requirements for a book in which both characters and incidents were to be fresh, and not pale imitations of characters and incidents that occurred in existing Jane Austen books. ...

I feel a little guilty about [Mr Howard] as I am certain I haven't done him justice. But he threatened to develop either into an Edmund Bertram in one direction, or an Edward Ferrars in the other.
-- Advertisement by the Author

On the positive side, JC did ample justice to other central characters such as Penelope Watson, who could very loosely be called a female version of Henry Tilney. Which is no bad thing. :-)