|Cassandra Austen, Portrait of Jane Austen, 1801|
An unfinished manuscript by Jane Austen is being offered for auction by Sotheby's July 14. The manuscript is a draft of an unfinished novel called The Watsons and is believed to be written about 1804. This is the only major manuscript still in private hands and one of the few surviving examples of drafts of Austen's work (none of the completed manuscripts of her other novels survive).
Jane Austen is considered to be one of the finest novelists of the English language and is beloved by readers ranging from high school girls to university scholars. Because of her focus on the complex relationships among characters and underlying settings of romance, her stories are timeless. Her stories have been adapted into numerous movies and her characters are continually reinterpreted and re-imagined in new fictional works.
The Watsons has been "completed" by a few authors and one of these adaptations is available through the library system. Emma Watson: The Watsons Completed by Joan Aiken (1996) Emma Watson, who tends her father's household along with her sister Elizabeth, finds herself caught up in an adventure as two men compete for her attention.
Perhaps someday soon, we'll see a new adaptation of The Watsons on the library shelves. Until then, request some modern reinterpretations of her works:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (2009). A mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton--and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. (Just published, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith.)
- Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters (2009) Following the familiar plot of the original, the Dashwood sisters leave their childhood home and are sent to live on a mysterious island full of sea creatures and secrets. While sensible Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her romantic sister Marianne is courted by both the handsome Willoughby and the hideous man-monster Colonel Brandon.
- Mr. Knightley's Diary by Amanda Grange (2007). A retelling of Jane Austen's classic novel , Emma, from Mr. Knightley's point of view. The novel describes his reactions to the misguided matchmaking attempts of his beautiful and mischievous neighbor, Emma Woodhouse, reactions that take an unexpected turn when a handsome newcomer catches Emma's attentions.
- Jane Austen in Boca by Paula Marantz Cohen (2002) A witty send-up of Pride and Prejudice set in a Florida retirement village follows a circle of retirees on a hilarious voyage of love and manners.
- Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor: Being the First Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron (1996) Visiting the estate of her friend Isobel, the newly married Countess of Scargrave, Jane Austen is drawn into a mystery when Isobel's husband dies suspiciously and the bereaved young bride is implicated in the murder. First in a series.