Review: Emma Watson by Joan Aiken & Jane Austen

Emma Watson gets five stars for deceptive marketing. Touted as Jane Austen's unfinished novel completed by Joan Aiken it is actually a reimagining and reworking of The Watson's a manuscript that a young Jane Austen started but left incomplete. Austen's version tells the story of Emma Watson, a young woman raised by her wealthy aunt who returns to her family home after her aunt marries. The story has all of the markings of Austen--Emma's very future, her personal happiness as well as her situation in life depends on her making a decent match. As does the Emma Watson in Joan Aiken's version. Except there is one small problem. Aiken disregards the original source material and has a complete do-over with many of the characters. She creates a different match for Emma Watson than the author intended, changes a number of characters and rewrites each chapter a little differently. In other words, this isn't a completion. It's the kind of fan fiction that shifts so far from the source material that I couldn't help wonder what the author even liked about the original. 

This may have been an enjoyable regency romance if the author had called it something else, renamed the characters and distanced it a bit from the Jane Austen association. The fact is, she didn't and therefore it deserves to be critiqued as such. And as such, it feels wholly unsatisfying. I found myself skimming through many of the later chapters and rolling my eyes at the hurried ending. Ultimately, this is a book that was made worse, not better by associating it with Austen.

Not recommended.


Lorrs said…
"Jane Austen's unfinished novel completed by Jane Austen" presume that 2nd name should be Joan Aiken.

This does sound like a disappointment, perhaps better if it was advertised as an "inspired by" or like you said just take the basis and change names completel.y
Kathryn White said…
Thanks. Typo all fixed.

It was very disappointing, "inspired by" would have been a much better way to market the novel.

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