by Jane Austen
Completed by Merryn Williams
Paperback- 148 pages
(30 July, 2005)
Review by Lynn
unfinished manuscript Jane Austen left behind has long been a source of
for Austen lovers. The Watson’s
introduces us to some interesting characters and their difficulties,
leaves us hanging, wondering what Austen meant to happen to them. She left some clues behind, and Merryn
Williams has used these clues in her own engaging completion of The
new completion uses the Austen fragment in its entirety and takes up
immediately where the fragment left off.
It is one of the more seamless transitions from the fragment
that I have
read. Emma goes on to become friends
with Mrs. Blake and Mr, Howard, and to even become somewhat intimate
family at Osborne Castle. Lord Osborne
becomes interested in Emma, but
Emma is interested in Mr. Howard. In the
midst of the budding romances are the little difficulties involved in
return to her childhood home, reacquainting herself with her siblings,
taking care of her invalid father.
was glad to see that the character of Emma was not materially altered. She is the quiet but kind young woman Austen
gave us. Most of the other main
characters, too, are much as Austen presented, and Williams adds only
character, the Mr. Purvis mentioned in the fragment.
There are times when the story seems a bit
rushed, as if the action is happening too quickly, but the way the
told keeps this from being too annoying.
There is a good balance between the dialogue and narration. The only scene that seemed discordant to me
is when Lady Osborne becomes abruptly rude with Emma.
The Robert Watsons are suitably ill tempered
after the death of Mr. Watson, treating the sisters with contempt, just
would expect. Elizabeth grows from being a maudlin
spinster to a woman with hope, and the presence of her sister Emma
seems to be
the catalyst for this change.
was a little disappointed that Lord Osborne is turned into more of a
and fop than I would have thought him, not even condescending to
marriage in person, but the rest of the ending is quite satisfactory. Mr. Howard finds a means of supporting
himself and his sister’s family without the patronage of Lady Osborne,
sufficiently humble when presenting his suit to Emma.
will never have the perfect completion of The Watsons, for we can never
Austen’s completion. But this completion
is particularly gratifying.
Review by Linda Waldemar,
June 14, 2005
first five chapters of this short novel are Jane Austen's fragment
intact. The remaining chapters are a fleshing out of the ending that
JA's family said that she intended.
Most of the
authors who have completed this fragment in the past, have made the
story their own. Some have changed the initial plot, all have added
characters. This author does not. We do briefly meet Sam and Penelope
Watson and Purvis, who were mentioned by never brought on stage by JA.
characters seem to follow naturally from her start. Elizabeth is
warm-hearted and sociable; Margaret is peevish and constantly
compalining. When we finally meet Penelope, she is as unpleasant as we
expect from the fragment. Robert and Jane Watson seem to care only for
the material things of life and are not very happy to be saddled with 4
unmarried sisters. Mr Howard is very pleasant and very honorable. The
only change in character that I noticed was that of Lord Osborne. JA
has him quiet and socially awkward, but I did not find him to be stupid
as he is portrayed in this completion.
involves getting the characters to the ends that JA intended. It has
the requisite happy ending for all who deserve it. I found this
completion to be a very pleasant read and recommend it.