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Lady Susan

Jane Austen

Book Overview: 

Jane Austen demonstrated her mastery of the epistolary novel genre in Lady Susan. Although the primary focus of this short novel is the selfish behavior of Lady Susan as she engages in affairs and searches for suitable husbands for herself and her young daughter, the actual action shares its importance with Austen’s manipulation of her characters’ behavior by means of their reactions to the letters that they receive. The heroine adds additional interest by altering the tone of her own letters based on the recipient of the letter. Thus, the character of Lady Susan is developed through many branches as Austen suggests complications of identity and the way in which that identity is based on interaction rather than on solitary constructions of personality. Lady Susan’s character is also built by the descriptions of the other letter-writers; but even though their opinions of this heroine coincide with the image that develops from her own letters, Austen demonstrates the subjectivity of the opinions by presenting them – primarily – in the letters of one woman to another, thereby suggesting the established literary motifs of feminine gossip and jealousy. Readers recognize these subjective motifs and examine all of the idiosyncrasies of the characters in order to create their own opinion of Lady Susan – as they would of any real acquaintance. (Summary from Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ford, such as he received from a gentleman who knew her perfectly well, which, if true, must raise abhorrence against her, and which Reginald himself was entirely disposed to credit. His opinion of her, I am sure, was as low as of any woman in England; and when he first came it was evident that he considered her as one entitled neither to delicacy nor respect, and that he felt she would be delighted with the attentions of any man inclined to flirt with her. Her behaviour, I confess, has been calculated to do away with such an idea; I have not detected the smallest impropriety in it—nothing of vanity, of pretension, of levity; and she is altogether so attractive that I should not wonder at his being delighted with her, had he known nothing of her previous to this personal acquaintance; but, against reason, against conviction, to be so well pleased with her, as I am sure he is, does really astonish me. His admiration was at first very strong, but no more than was natu. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is a very clever book indeed. Quite different from the rest of Austen's oeuvre, it is not the sort of book that you can imagine a teenager might be able to write. To conceive the character of a woman of 35ish and her use of sexual attraction and seduction for a 19 year old, as Jane was when...more

I read the book then watch the movie for BookTubeAThon 2018 and I have to say... they have some differences and the movie might be a bit better. It's so silly and funny and can't recommend it enough!

(review in English below)

Gostei mesmo desta minha primeira experiência com a escrita de Jane Austen - que foi também a sua primeira obra.

Retrospectivamente, acho que podia haver alguma caracterização física dos personagens e dos ambientes. Mas, na verdade, durante a leitura não lhes senti a falta...more

Jane Austen's novel about a femme fatale, the lovely and devious Lady Susan.

This early epistolary Austen novel follows the young(ish), attractive and recently widowed Lady Susan Vernon as she schemes her way around England, leaving emotional wreckage in her wake. Lady Susan is a unique main chara...more

Lady Susan. What an interesting character- stirring up trouble, flirting, scheming, lying, plotting, seducing and trouble making...quite a contrast to Elizabeth Bennett!

Most people don't even know that Jane Austen ever wrote this book. Yes, it is a book indeed. Only 80 pages long, which is next to nothing when compared to the other 6 novels, but, in only 80 pages Jane Austen manages to build a great stage for yet another funny, witty, sarcastic and engaging tale...more

I haven't read an Austen novel that I disliked.

I mean, she's good enough to turn what should be an epistolary slog through social mores into a delightful and spiteful and nearly-tragic romp. Who else can do that?

The voices of each character in each letter evokes such verve and personality and a g...more

Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.

O Lady Susan Vernon, what a juicy jewel of a villainous character you are, a black diamond, repelling and fascinating at the same time, your wicked charm inspiring possibly an uncanny form of envy more than simple revulsion. Deceiving everyone with...more

This is a clever and delightful novella from Jane Austen that wasn't published until decades after her death. I was excited to read it after Whit Stillman adapted it into the movie "Love & Friendship."

The story is told in a series of letters, with the main character being the beautiful, selfi...more

Lady Susan Vernon 35, but looks much younger is exceedingly pretty , gentle with great manners , well spoken, intelligent the perfect woman until you know her... newly widowed from a kind man Mr.Vernon, ( no first name is given) he had foolishly let her spend all his money... a daughter 16, Frede...more

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