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Lady Susan (Hesperus Classics) by Jane…
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Lady Susan (Hesperus Classics) (edition 2006)

by Jane Austen

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1,162666,986 (3.58)213
Member:holmes111
Title:Lady Susan (Hesperus Classics)
Authors:Jane Austen
Info:Hesperus Press (2006), Paperback, 95 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, English

Work details

Lady Susan by Jane Austen

  1. 40
    My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (wisewoman)
    wisewoman: These stories share a charming, manipulative villainess.
  2. 10
    Evelina by Frances Burney (sweetiegherkin)
    sweetiegherkin: Also an epistolary novel, written by a woman said to be an influence on Austen's own writing. If I recall correctly, also has an older scheming woman involved in the plot.
  3. 10
    Lady Vernon and Her Daughter: A Novel of Jane Austen's Lady Susan by Jane Rubino (sweetiegherkin)
  4. 00
    Lady Susan by Phyllis Ann Karr (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Retells the story without the letters, filling in Austen's gaps.
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Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
As usual, I'm not giving a synopsis fo the story, just my reactions.

This Jane Austen novella is not as accessible as her other writings, since it is all written in rather long-winded letters, all telling and no showing (action, dialogue, etc.). However, Austen is so clever in this device. Rather than show how horrible Lady Susan's actions and intentions are, we read between the lines in her letters and in others' more straightforward words. Soon she is revealing herself as the manipulative sociopath she is, totally lacking conscience and concern for others.

It was fascinating to me that Jane Austen would be so familiar with this behavior! I'm curious who she modeled Lady Susan after, as it seems impossible to write this perfect portrait of a sociopath back in the 1790s without meeting one. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 22, 2017 |
I read this mainly as a preparation for the new adaptation of the novel. Jane Austen’s short epistolary novel is an example of her early writings - for whatever reason she didn’t try to get it published and it also seems a little unfinished.

Surprisingly it features an absolutely unscrupolous woman as the main character. Manipulation, flirting and scheming - she tries everything to ensnare first a married man and then a much younger man but there’s no real feelings of love or affection here. There’s no one to root for here - well, yes, Lady Susan’s daughter, but we really doesn’t get to know her that well.

The novel does show a great novelist in the making - and Jane Austen’s talent for ironi and humour. ( )
  ctpress | Jan 15, 2017 |
Unlike any other Jane Austen book you have ever read, the title character is unlike any other Jane Austen protagonist you have ever encountered...or is she the antagonist? ( )
  Birdo82 | Jan 15, 2017 |
I am a woefully underread Janite, as it turns out. Sure, I've read the big six - her half-dozen beautifully written novels - many times. But in all of the years I've been reading Austen, I had never ventured into her other, sadly scarce, works. Laziness, maybe. Haughtiness, maybe. I'd read the best, why would I go backwards from there?

Well, at least in the case of Lady Susan, because it was freaking awesome. This is Jane Austen at the beginning of her career - rumor has it that she wrote Lady Susan at the age of 19 and it is undeniable that she was a born writer and a woman of great perspicacity. She nailed Lady Susan.

This is a short little novella, but it fairly crackles with wit, humor, nastiness, judgment, and realism. It is written in letters, but I never wondered what was happening. She lays bare the soul and the facade of Lady Susan, a woman who raises manipulation and calculation to its highest art. Lady Susan does everything for effect, but appears completely natural.

"She is delicately fair, with fine grey eyes and dark eyelashes; and from her appearance one would not suppose her more than five and twenty, though she must in fact be ten years older, I was certainly not disposed to admire her, though always hearing she was beautiful; but I cannot help feeling that she possesses an uncommon union of symmetry, brilliancy, and grace."

She is the ultimate expression of what a society that praises form and ignores substance deserves. Empty of compassion, wholly self-absorbed and hedonistic, never concerned with anyone but herself. I wish that Austen had written a full-length novel including her as a character. I am left wondering about her marriage, her widowhood, her future. I'd like to know more about her long-suffering daughter, Frederica, about whom she said, cruelly:

"She is a stupid girl, and has nothing to recommend her."

In Frederica, I saw shades of Georgiana Darcy. A shy young woman, overwhelmed by her much more assertive mother. The novella implies that she gets her happy ending. I hope so!

A woman like Lady Susan will always land on her feet (often on top of her rival). She doesn't get the comeuppance she deserves, but her outcome is more realistic than satisfying.

This was a lot of fun. So much fun that I ended up reading sections of it out loud to my daughter, including this gem, contained in a letter from Lady Susan to her equally unscrupulous friend Mrs. Johnson, relating how she has been able to yank her young admirer back into line after it becomes apparent that she is terribly cruel to her young daughter:

"There is something agreeable in feelings so easily worked on; not that I envy him their possession, nor would, for the world, have such myself; but they are very convenient when one wishes to influence the passions of another. And yet this Reginald, whom a very few words from me softened at once into the utmost submission, and rendered more tractable, more attached, more devoted than ever, would have left me in the first angry swelling of his proud heart without deigning to seek an explanation. Humbled as he now is, I cannot forgive him such an instance of pride, and am doubtful whether I ought not to punish him by dismissing him at once after this reconciliation, or by marrying and teazing him for ever." ( )
  moonlight_reads | Dec 11, 2016 |
Several months ago I started reading Lady Susan with a sense of foreboding—so many negative reviews, plus my dislike for epistolary novels—and ended up devouring Miss Austen’s story! I absolutely loved the book, so much so that I am reconsidering Liaisons Dangereuses and Evelina. I do not care how young Jane Austen was when she wrote this: it is brilliant, just as all her other books are. Unlike some comments (by critics) I don’t see the candidness with which Lady Susan Vernon and her friend Alicia Johnson weave their shameless plans to be improbable. I do not see why people would not openly scheme in letters and unveil their souls as they really were, to their equals—remember, ipad generation: there were no Internet or cell phones then! Last night I finally dared to try to watch the movie made of it, Love & Friendship. This time, my foreboding mood was proven correct: the movie is a sham and I could barely stand 20 minutes of the shameless eviscerating of Jane Austen’s fine story! Kate Beckinsale (who used to be gorgeous and looks bland in the movie) is simply unconvincing as the cunning, smooth-talking, ingratiating Lady Susan Vernon from the book. Her interpretation is lukewarm at most, her face as blank as a clean blackboard. Something else that struck me was the fashion; more specifically, the dresses sitting at the waist. By mid 1790’s (when, scholars believe, Miss Austen might have written this story) waists were coming up—not as high as they got by the early 1800’s. The dresses in the movie were a cross between early 1700’s and Victorian fashion, with the large hats of the 1700’s looking more like pictures hats. And the choice of a man as narrator mystifies me… Stick to the book—one, I have a feeling, I will reread soon. ( )
  MrsRK | Nov 21, 2016 |
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My Dear Brother,- I can no longer refuse myself the pleasure of profiting by your kind invitation when we last parted of spending some weeks with you at Churchill, and, therefore, if quite convenient to you and Mrs. Vernon to receive me at present, I shall hope to within a few days to be introduced to a sister whom I have so long desired to be acquainted with.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486444074, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:10 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Flirtatious and recently widowed, Lady Susan Vernon seeks a new and advantageous marriage for herself and at the same time attempts to push her daughter into marriage with a man she detests. The plot unfolds through letters exchanged among Lady Susan, her family, friends and enemies.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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