Readers of Jane Austen’s six great novels are left hungering for more, and more there is: the marvelous unpublished manuscripts she left behind, collected here.
Sanditon might have been Austen’s greatest novel had she lived to finish it. Its subject matter astonishes: here is Austen observing the birth pangs of the culture of commerce, as her country-bred heroine, a foolish baronet, a family of hypochondriacs, and a mysterious West Indian heiress collide against the background hum of real-estate development at a seaside resort.
The Watsons, begun in 1804 but never completed, tells the story of a young woman who was raised by a rich aunt and who finds herself shipped back to the comparative poverty and social clumsiness of her own family.
The novella Lady Susan is a miniature masterpiece, featuring Austen’s only villainous protagonist. Lady Susan’s subtle, single-minded, and ruthless pursuit of power makes the reader regret that Austen never again wrote a novel with a scheming widow for its heroine.
The special joy of this collection lies in Austen’s juvenilia–tiny novels, the enchantingly funny Love and Freindship, comic fragments, and a (very) partial history of England–romping miniatures that she wrote in her teens. Their high spirits, hilarity, and control offer delicious proof that Austen was an artist “born, not made.”
(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
About the Author
One of England's most beloved authors, Jane Austen wrote such classic novels as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. Published anonymously during her life, Austen's work was renowned for its realism, humour, and commentary on English social rites and society at the time. Austen's writing was supported by her family, particularly by her brother, Henry, and sister, Cassandra, who is believed to have destroyed, at Austen's request, her personal correspondence after Austen's death in 1817. Austen's authorship was revealed by her nephew in A Memoir of Jane Austen, published in 1869, and the literary value of her work has since been recognized by scholars around the world.
“[In her earliest writings] we see the essential Austen . . . There is a force behind Austen’s farce–an energy which demands expression, an irony which will not be refused, a distinctive vision of life already apparent in the teenage writer . . . What grips one about the early works at every turn is the wit, the fire, the voice, the comic distance Austen sets up between herself and her fictional characters . . . Lady Susan is a classic, and Sanditon might have been Austen’s greatest book, had death not prevented her from completing her final novel.” –from the Introduction by Peter Washington