‘I am tired of submitting my will to the caprices of others-of resigning my own judgement in deference to those to whom I owe no duty, and for whom I feel no respect.’
The unfinished fictions collected here are the novels and other writing that Jane Austen did not publish. The protagonist of the earliest story is Lady Susan, a sexual predator and a brilliant and manipulative sociopath. The Watsons
, a tale of riches to rags, is set in a village deep in mud and misery where the Watson sisters waste away, day after dull day, waiting for the suitors who never appear. Sanditon
, the novel interrupted by the author’s death, is a topical satire on the niche marketing campaign waged by investors in the latest seaside resort, the fictional Sanditon, situated on England’s over-supplied south coast. If The Watsons
shares the disturbed life of a Chekhov short story, Sanditon
‘s cast of eccentrics anticipates the zany world of Dickens. Experimental and sharp-elbowed, all three probe new areas of invention and push out beyond what we expect to find in a novel by Jane Austen. This edition collects together all Austen’s unpublished adult fiction, poetry, and related writings, written in her late teens, in her late twenties, and in the year she died, aged forty-one. They contribute more than a dash of discomfort to our modern image of the romantic novelist and reveal Jane Austen’s development as a writer.