Thursday, August 02, 2012

Lady Susan

Lady Susan. Jane Austen 1794?/1871. 64 pages.

I recently reread Jane Austen's Lady Susan. I remembered it as being a quick, light read full of gossip and scandal. Lady Susan Vernon is not a "nice" woman; she's a still-quite-beautiful widow with a near-grown daughter, Frederica, who sometimes forgets her place. After creating a mess--or scandal--she invites herself to her brother-in-law's estate. Of course, she's not completely honest about it--not admitting that it is her last resort and that she really has no interest in his company or the company of his wife, Catherine Vernon. If readers get an honest glimpse of the woman at all, it is in her letters to Alicia Johnson, but, even then I think she's not being completely honest all of the time.

Lady Susan is a tricky, manipulative woman who likes to keep her options open. The other women that readers get to know in this little novel are Catherine and Frederica. Catherine would find it difficult to say anything positive about her sister-in-law, Lady Susan. Though she could probably admit that Lady Susan is quite beautiful and charming--when she wants to be. Catherine thinks Lady Susan is a horrible mother--and she is. And Catherine thinks she is PLOTTING to get her brother, Reginald De Courcy--and she is. Reginald starts strong, but, within a day or two he's convinced that Lady Susan is THE ONE. In other words, he becomes horribly stupid. Frederica, Catherine's daughter, also falls for Reginald. Lady Susan is all about DRAMA. Gossip. Scandal. Lies. Manipulation. Tension. Lady Susan is a divisive woman--breaking apart families, the cause of endless quarrels. 

Lady Susan isn't really like Austen's other novels. Lady Susan, Catherine, and Frederica aren't really like Jane Austen's other heroines. And that is definitely true with the heroes as well. Reginald is not like Tilney, Darcy, Wentworth, or Knightley. Lady Susan is not a swoon-worthy romance. It is fun, lively, gossipy. 

Here's my first review.

My favorite quotes:
Where there is a disposition to dislike, a motive will never be wanting. (7)
In short, when a person is always to deceive, it is impossible to be consistent. (27)
Facts are such horrid things! (54)

Read Lady Susan
  • If you are looking for a classic that is a quick, lively read
  • If you like stories where what is not being said is just as important as what is being said
  • If you like not-so-nice heroines; true Lady Susan is no Moll Flanders, but, she's no Fanny Price either! She just really, really likes it when men--single or married--fall in love with her.
  • If you like Jane Austen

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Roof Beam Reader said...

This sounds awesome! I picked up the Penguin trio (Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon) to read for this event.. it's third on my list, after Sense & Sensibility (which I'm reading now) and Mansfield Park, which I plan to read next.

I'm definitely even more excited to read the trio of short works, now!

Heidenkind said...

I seem to recall this is an epistolary novel. Or am I confusing it with something else?

Becky said...

Tasha B. You're right it is an epistolary novel.

Adam, I hope you enjoy it!

CharmedLassie said...

I hadn't even heard of this one! I'm going through an Austen phase at the moment reading Emma for the first time) so I'll definitely add this to my list for future.

Annette said...

I just started reading Lady Susan today. Last night I read a short biography written by Jane Austen's nephew. It was a great start to this month of reading her stories.