Sanditon and Other Stories by Jane Austen is a collection of disparate writings by Austen gathering together her juvenilia, some unfinished works, and more. Earlier this year I read the juvenilia before beginning Austen’s completed novels with the intention of returning to this book when I had finished those. I am finally able to pick up my reading where I left off.
First, the unfinished novel ”Sanditon” which has actually been fleshed out by a contemporary author and sold as a complete novel. Although we’ll never know for certain Austen’s intentions for the story, it is safe to assume there will be a happy ending for Charlotte, although it is interesting to note that the original title given to it by Austen herself is “The Brothers” so it is possible that the plot would have hinged upon the happy marriages of the brothers, with the assumption that Catherine would surely be one of the two brides.
Next, I read “The Watsons” with more delight than I did the previous unfinished novel. The protagonist, Emma Watson, has returned to her father’s home after living with and being raised by her wealthy aunt. Her manners are, as a result, more refined than those of her family and she has difficulty fitting in at first although familial bonds will eventually strengthen. There is a footnote to this unfinished novel in which Austen’s sister describes how the author had intended for the rest of the story to go and Emma would have been happily married by the novel’s end.
At this point, I am reading this book for the sake of having completed my journey through Jane Austen’s oeuvre. The last part includes some more writings including some poetry which will probably be more interesting than inspiring. Who knows? I may be mistaken and in for a big surprise but I suspect that the third part of the book will add little to my overall appreciation of Austen. While I cannot say I adore all of her novels, I would rather read her romance novels than anyone else’s. The fact that I typically loathe romance novels and can honestly say that I love Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion is not something to be taken lightly. If I were more fond of romance novels then I could not only appreciate another person being dismissive but I would appreciate it. Since I am not a fan of the genre, when I find one I like we should all consider it exceptional. Austen is, among many other things, exceptional.