Praised by critics and studied by scholars, Jane Austen's novels endure because of their popularity with readers. The author's witty and astute observations elevate her tales of parties, gossip, and romance into matters of captivating drama, offering an evocative portrait of everyday life in the towns and countryside of Regency England. Austen's premature death at the age of forty-two curtailed her legacy, and her devotees have eagerly read and re-read her handful of books. This collection features two of her unfinished novels, an often overlooked pair of gems that enrich our appreciation of Austen’s storytelling gifts.
These writings first appeared posthumously, when Austen's nephew included the texts in an 1871 memoir of his celebrated relative. The Watsons unfolds in a familiar domestic milieu, in which a spirited heroine finds her marriage opportunities narrowed by poverty and pride. In contrast, Sanditon ventures into markedly different territory. Set at a seaside resort, among a cast of hypochondriacs and speculators, it suggests that Austen's work might have taken some unexpected new directions. Even if these incomplete stories had been of little intrinsic value, they would have been of interest as literary records and curiosities. As it happens, they are of high quality and worthy of reading for their own sake, for pleasure as well as study.