Lady Susan

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Lady Susan
by Jane Austen
★★★☆

This small epistolary novel is a bit different from Austen’s other work. The title character, Lady Susan, is a manipulative selfish woman who is hard to like. She has almost no regard for her daughter Frederica and is doing her best to marry her off to the first man who comes along.

Lady Susan is used to always getting her way. She uses people to further herself and then when she is finished with them she moves on. The story revolves around her efforts to seduce and marry a young wealthy man. Through the observations and letters of those she comes in contact with we learn that everyone is concerned she might succeed. They warn the man in question, but he’s blinded by infatuation.

We don’t have long enough to become attached to any of the characters, but it’s still interesting to see how it unfolds. I thought the ending was wonderfully just and was happy with the book overall.

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re an Austen devotee it’s a must. Though the story isn’t as good, it’s fun to see Austen try a different style and exercise her writing skills. For anyone new to Austen I would say skip this one and start with one of her well-known novels.

“Where there is a disposition to dislike, a motive will never be wanting.”

Read for the Austen in August event hosted by Adam here.

10 comments:

Kristi said...

I still haven't read any of her unfinished works. That's interesting that is an epistolary novel. I didn't realize that. I've been so terrible. I'm participating in Austen in August but haven't picked up my book yet. Shame on me!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kristi - I still need to read Sanditon, but between this one and The Watsons I definitely prefer The Watsons. I don't think any of the unfinished work quite measures up to her 6 novels, but I still love me some Austen no matter what. Hilarious that you're hosting a giveaway for the event but not reading Austen yet. Life always seems to get in the way of reading.

Kristi said...

Yes! It's really quite embarrassing. I've been reading North and South for the read-a-long, but I'm going to make sure to pick up Persuasion this weekend so that I actually finish one before the event is over. Haha!

Alyce said...

I hadn't even heard of this one before. The only one of hers that I have read is P&P, but I own a few others and have good intentions to read them someday.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kristi - Persuasion is my favorite! I really want to re-read it soon. I hope you like it. It felt more mature to me.

Alyce - They're all wonderful, but Northanger Abbey is a fun one if you want something quick to try.

Arti said...

I've read all her other six novels but not any of her unfinished works. Thanks for reviewing it. Knowing how she'd edited and changed her own works in the process to turn them into their final published shape, these unfinished ones could well be quite raw and if she were alive for some more years, would she have continued to work on them again and again to perfection. I remember S & S started as an epistolary novel... just thinking, would she have changed Lady Susan too?

Adam said...

"If you’re an Austen devotee it’s a must. Though the story isn’t as good, it’s fun to see Austen try a different style and exercise her writing skills. For anyone new to Austen I would say skip this one and start with one of her well-known novels."

Completely agree!

Bybee said...

This is the first one of hers that I read and I loved it because Lady Susan was such a bitch.

Juli Rahel said...

I quite liked 'Lady Susan' because I enjoy the challenge that sometimes comes with epistolary novels! I liked Susan's character, not so much her daughter's, she was simply too meek. Thanks for sharing :)
Juli @ Universe in Words

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Arti - That's a great thought! I wonder if this would have become a very different kind of novel. I can't imagine S&S as an epistolary novel, but I had heard that the first draft was in that form.

Adam - Yes, I don't think I would love her the way I do if I'd started here, but it's so fun to see this side of her.

Bybee - She totally is! It's a very fun book.

Juli - Susan is one of a kind. It's almost as if Austen took one of her "bad" characters from another novel (like Mary Crawford) and gave her a new story.