My dear Alicia, of what a mistake were you guilty in marrying a man of his age! Just old enough to be formal, ungovernable, and to have the gout; too old to be agreeable, too young to die” – Lady Susan, Jane Austen
Initial Thoughts: Years ago, after finishing Persuasion by: Jane Austen, I believed that I had reached a milestone by finishing all of Jane Austen’s novels. I was shocked to discover Austen’s lesser known work, Lady Susan. For some reason, people tend to forget about including Austen’s posthumous epistolary novella Lady Susan.
Beautiful, flirtatious, and recently widowed, Lady Susan Vernon seeks an advantageous second marriage for herself, while attempting to push her daughter into a dismal match. A magnificently crafted novel of Regency manners and mores that will delight Austen enthusiasts with its wit and elegant expression” Goodreads
About the Book
Title: Lady Susan
Author: Jane Austen
Year Published: 1871
Genres & Subjects : 19th century, England, Fiction, Social Conventions
Lady Susan Vernon is a nasty piece of work, which makes her absolutely delightful. I found myself deliciously cringing at her antics. She is such a heartless mother, and yet, her ambitions are well before her time. Lady Susan is a conniving widow who wants nothing more than to secure her financial happiness no matter what the cost. She will forgo the happiness of her daughter along with her own reputation in order to get what she wants. Don’t get me wrong, she is very unlikeable. Her wickedness is so refreshing, especially for a 19th century novel where most women are docile hopeless romantics.
Unlike Austen’s other novels, Lady Susan is written through letters, (also known as an epistolary novel). I felt a profound sense of depth to the characters when I read their letters. I could imagine the voice of Lady Susan. I could see her poor daughter, Frederica cowering in her room. Also, unlike Austen’s other novels, Lady Susan isn’t a particularly romantic novel. There are no Mr. Darcy figures. However, the lack of romance fits the focus of the novel.
Of course, as with all Jane Austen novels, Austen explores the social conventions of her time period. Lady Susan is no exception in this regard. Austen’s insight is especially remarkable in this novella as she was only nineteen when she had written Lady Susan. Lady Susan was published posthumously in 1871, long after Austen’s death. Unfortunately, Lady Susan is often overlooked by Austen fans. It was difficult to find a paper copy of Lady Susan. With over five different editions of Pride and Prejudice for sale at my local bookstore, there was not one copy to be found of Lady Susan. And so, I grudgingly ended up reading it as an ebook through Project Gutenberg. After reading Lady Susan, I have come to the conclusion that it is a severely underrated novella. Yes, it is short. Yes, it is written through letters. But, it is definitely worthy of being as widely read as Pride and Prejudice, or Sense and Sensibility. There is something new and fresh to this novella that I had not seen before in any of the classic novels that I have read
I would recommend this novel to those who are fans of Jane Austen’s novel, or fans of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair.
Final Rating: A-
Until Next Time,