I love Jane Austen. There’s something about knowing her history and the time period in which she was writing that just makes her that much greater. She was so far ahead of her time and wrote about issues that are still pertinent today, if not in the exact manner.
I thought each of these three novels were unique and amazing in their own way. Lady Susan was the first and it was a bit difficult to get into but ultimately turned out to be brilliant. Jane Austen wrote it in the epistolary style, similar to how some of her other well known novels originally began. If she would have rewritten Lady Susan, I have no doubt people would treasure it as much as her other six completed novels. There was drama, intrigue, scandal and a love story. In today’s over-sexed drama-ridden violent society (on TV and in books at least), this novel would clearly be (and remains) invisible. A movie would never be made unless it was turned into a sexy drama with a murder or something.
The other two novels,The Watsons and Sandition are incomplete. If I remember correctly, one was written earlier on and she abandoned it and the other she was writing at the time of her death (it’s been over a month since I read these). Though not nearly as strong as Lady Susan, each of these were enjoyable and had their own unique characters and Sandition shows Austen’s true mastery of social commentary and critique, be it feminist or general. The Watsons didn’t leave that great of an impression on me, perhaps because it was sandwiched between two incredibly promising novels, but I think all three were interesting and worth the read, even if they leave you with questions at the end as she was unable to finish them.
Love or hate Jane Austen, I think these are actually good introductory texts to her works as they are all relatively short. The epistolary style of Lady Susan is a bit difficult, but it does allow for the work to be broken up into various readings. I did get confused with everyone using their husband’s names and not first names, but overall it was great. These books have made me want to reread the mainstream Austen works (Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion) and she will always remain as one of the best social observers in literary history regardless of how often scholars try to prove she didn’t write the works or that major edits occurred through her editors.