If you have an Austen enthusiast on your list, chances are that he or she has already blazed through her big six: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. It may seem like there's nothing Austen left to read after all of those novels, but luckily that's not the case. Your Austen enthusiast might be interested in learning how Austen came to create such an impressive body of work. In the case, Volume the First is an ideal choice. It contains fourteen vignettes of Austen's ("literary skits and family jokes", according to the dust jacket flap) written between 1787 and 1793, when Austen was eleven to seventeen, respectively. This collection of juvenilia will not disappoint.
Pardon the stock picture; I forgot my camera today!
If your Austen fan wants to know how the author pieced together her great works, we also have The Manuscript Chapters of Persuasion, which are comprised of chapters 10 and 11 of the second volume as Austen first laid them out, as well as a facsimile of the chapters and Dr. R.W. Chapman's notes on them.
"No, no, no! This is all wrong!"
However, if you'd prefer to buy something more sustained, Lady Susan might be the better choice. This short, epistolary novel was probably written around 1794, a good fifteen years before Austen's first novel, Sense and Sensibility, was published. It was published posthumously in 1871 by Austen's nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh. Lady Susan could be read as an early feminist tract, since the title character is a beautiful, intelligent, clever widow who courts suitors significantly younger than herself while simultaneously carrying on an affair with a married man! Interestingly, Lady Susan does not get her comeuppance in the end for her bad behavior, an unusual deviation from literary norms at the time . . . and perhaps the reason that Austen never submitted the novella for publication during her lifetime.
The Watsons, an unfinished novel, is another option. Austen completed only five chapters of this book before abandoning it in 1804 or 1805. Mr. Watson, the patriarch in the novel, is gravely ill at the beginning of the novel, and Austen confided to her sister Cassandra that he would die before its conclusion. Austen's own father died in January of 1805, which is the reason, scholars speculate, that she left off writing the book. Our particular copy of The Watsons contains the original text, as well as notes on the manuscript.
Other alternatives for your Austen fan include The Jane Austen Book Club (2004) by Karen Joy Fowler, which we have in a hardcover, and Pemberley: Or Pride and Prejudice Continued (1993) by Emma Tennant. Since Jane Austen's works have been in the public domain for decades now, anyone with drive enough to compose a novel can write a Jane Austen spin-off. This specific spin-off, though, has a New York Times Book Review quote on the front cover that says "The text virtually breathes Jane Austen," which lends it a bit more credibility than the other imitations.
Not an audio book--just a stock photo that shows the cover that our copy has.
Make your visit soon, though, because Jane Austen's immense popularity guarantees that these treasures will not be around for very long!
Title: The Jane Austen Book Club
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Features: Dust jacket
Condition: Very Good
All of The Athlone Press books are complete with very-good condition dust jackets. Each book has the previous owner's bookplate on the front pastedowns (i.e. the inside front cover), but when the dust jackets are on you can't see them. The Watsons has minor ink underlining to a few pages.