Saturday, August 6, 2011

#5: Lady Susan by Jane Austen

Lady Susan
by Jane Austen
-born in England, 1775
-96 Pages
-more about Austen (via Goodreads)

Authorial Tidbits: (mostly via JASNA)
- Jane Austen was the 7th of 8 children born to a country clergyman.
- She was never publicly acknowledged as a writer during her lifetime.
- Neither she nor her sister Cassandra, very close friends, ever married, though not necessarily for lack of need or want.
- She died at 41 years of age, probably from Addison's disease.
- The first Austen-inspired-sequel was published in 1913.

Synopsis: (via Melville House)
Thus high-spirited tale, told through an exchange of letters, is unique in Jane Austen's small body of work. It is the story of Lady Susan, a brilliant, beautiful and morally reprehensible coquette who delights in making men fall in love with her, deceiving their wives into friendship and even tormenting her own daughter, cruelly bending her to her will.

Austen clearly delighted in her wicked heroine - tracing Lady Susan's maneuverings to remarry yet continue on with her lover, and to marry off her young daughter, with great wit, zest and unfailing panache.

My Impressions:
That was SO refreshing. (...said in my best Caroline Bingley voice...if her voice isn't ringing through your head, or you have no idea what I'm talking about, then..just..carry on.  nothing to see here.  ahem.)  As you might be aware, I love Austen's humor and way of viewing people within society.  She paints a particular sort of portrait, one that I haven't found elsewhere.  She seems able to illuminate a person's character in so few words.

Lady Susan boasts a main character with a cunning that I don't think I've seen in any of her other work.  She's horrible, but in an occasionally charming Scarlett O'Hara sort of way.  She lets us see this whole securing-a-husband-as-soon-as-may-be madness from a very different point of view.  I've read all of Austen's published novels, so reading something "new" was fun.  The writing was fun too, here are two examples:
I really have a regard for him, he is so easily imposed upon!
Silly woman, to expect constancy from so charming a man!


  1. Loved this! You beat me to a review though. Will get to one next week once my daughter has been safely delivered to college..

  2. I highlighted the second quote too! So exciting to read something new--and different from Jane Austen.

  3. Delivering a child to college sounds scary to me JoAnn! Hope everything goes well. I look forward to reading your review of it.

    Heidi, I agree--it was so much fun. Jane Austen yet so different and fun. I was always under the impression that it was an incomplete novella, but it seemed complete to me. Austen seems to end her stories rather abruptly anyhow.

  4. Thank you for that link to the first sequel ever!!! So reading! And also, can't wait to read Lady Susan. :-)

  5. I love how Austen cleverly uses the letter format - she never really tells you want happens, just by hear-say.

    I've read somewhere that S&S was also suppost to be an epistolary novel, and although Lady Susan is so much fun, I'm glad she decided otherwise.

  6. Jillian, isn't it fascinating that she's had such a continuous following? I'm curious about that sequel too.

    Alex, Lady Susan worked wonderfully in the epistolary format, but I don't think S&S would have done so well. Glad she decided against it!


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