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

by Jane Austen

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,126627,287 (3.59)205
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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» See also 205 mentions

English (58)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Italian (1)  English (62)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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 |
For such a short novel, Austen packed a lot in. I enjoyed the epistolary style, the to-ing and fro-ing of gossip and scheming, the outrage at other people's behaviour. I found the lack of descriptions of houses, balls, soldiers and country mansions refreshing, and appreciated the definition of the characters through other people's perceptions of them rather than a straight narrative description. Perhaps because the titular character is in her mid 30s, the book seemed more mature than the other Austen books I've read. Lady Susan is a horror but she's also very winning. I think I would have enjoyed her company. She's like my other favourite Austen characters, Lizzie Bennett and Emma Woodhouse - feisty and impetuous, but with the added naughtiness of being a marriage wrecker and arch manipulator. I should disparage her, but she's too much fun! ( )
  missizicks | Oct 27, 2016 |
This certainly isn't my favorite novel by Jane Austen however I tried to take into account that it was written when the author was nineteen or twenty. Thankfully it is a quick read.

It took me a while to get a grasp on the cast of characters. This is very important, since the story is presented in the form of letters between different individuals, with the exception of the concluding chapter.


The main character, Lady Susan, can truly be descibed as a manipulative narcissist. Here is one passage written by Lady Susan to her friend/aid in deceptive schemes. This depicts Lady Susan's character, without giving away anything important about the story:

My dear Alicia,—There needed not this last fit of the gout to make me detest Mr. Johnson, but now the extent of my aversion is not to be estimated. To have you confined as nurse in his apartment! 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.

So, the main character is absolutely unlikable but every once in a while the reader begins to doubt if she is really all that awful. Then comes another letter written to her confidant, Alicia, and all doubt it removed.


For fans of Austen's literary works, it is definitely worth reading. Just be aware it isn't anything like her other more popular novels. ( )
  Lisa805 | Oct 10, 2016 |
Jane Austen's mature work skewers the economic and social basis of the English landed gentry of her time with rapier wit and exquisite irony. In this novella, evidently written when Austen was 19, the weapon is a bludgeon and the wit is satire. Lady Susan Vernon is a shameless adventuress (in the old, not the modern meaning), but her chutzpah is such that it's hard not to root for her as she lies, manipulates, flatters, seduces and cons her way through life - though her utter unconcern for her daughter's welfare is impossible to forgive. She gets off some caustic zingers about men, relationships and marriage, as well.

"Lady Susan" is nowhere near the standard of Austen's six published novels - in particular, the characterisation of everyone but Lady Susan is pretty much flat; and the novella abruptly wraps up with a few pages of exposition. But this early draft, which Austen tried not to have published, is a remarkably good read all the same, and all the more so considering its author's age. This is Jane Austen with the cynicism dialled up to 11 and no punches pulled. ( )
  timjones | Oct 2, 2016 |
This is obviously not comparable to Austen's better known works. I listened to it on a public domain website.

The story consists of a series of letters that are exchanged between various characters. The sophisticated, witty, elegant and recently widowed Lady Susan is on the hunt for a second husband. Dragging her unloved and neglected daughter in her wake she proceeds to visit the households of a number of relatives in order to pursue a match. Her flirtatious behaviour and carelessness with the feelings of all those in her path are the subject of much letter-gossip. To her face, the perpetrators of course remain impeccably courteous.

Austen's novels are brilliant because they accurately portray human behaviour in a way that most authors shy away from. She reveals the true hearts of her characters, in this book through letters. As always, she turns the awkward, uncomfortable but necessary pretences of society into humour. She is no doubt revealing her own amusement through her writing and comments extensively on romantic relationships and her views of them in the process...

Silly woman to expect constancy in so charming a man.

This was worth listening to but it would probably have been easier to read as it was hard at times to keep up with the characters due to the constant flow of letters. There is obviously no bad language, violence or sexual content--just a bit of polite flirting!



( )
  sparkleandchico | Sep 27, 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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