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Paperback Lady Susan (The Art of the Novella) Book

ISBN: 1935554352

ISBN13: 9781935554356

Lady Susan (The Art of the Novella)

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"I am indeed provoked at the artifice of this unprincipled woman." This high-spirited tale, told through an exchange of letters, is unique in Jane Austen's small body of work. It is the story of Lady Susan, a brilliant, beautiful and morally reprehensible coquette who delights in making men fall in love with her, deceiving their wives into friendship and even tormenting her own daughter, cruelly bending her to her will. Austen clearly delighted in...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Some Lady!

Austen fans will delight in this quick, witty and delectable read. Lady Susan, by Jane Austen is one of the prolific author's earliest works and a true indicator of brilliant masterpieces to follow. I chose this read as part of my Everything Austen Challenge- and I'm so glad I did! It consists of 41 letters exchanged between family members- revolving around this infamous Lady Susan. A stunningly elegant beauty, embracing the most treacherous of characters, Lady Susan is capable of maneuvering and swaying others (specifically the opposite gender) into believing the very best of her... At a mere 71 pages, the letters don't skip a beat in keeping you entertained and totally involved in the plotting of Lady Susan's twists and deceptions. Claiming that all the females in her family are against her, she confides solely in her friend Mrs. Johnson, who is equally as conniving as she is. Lady Susan becomes involved with more than one gentleman and decidedly rips apart relationships of sorts in trying to gain the admiration and infatuation of at least three of these. In the middle of all this scheming, and affected by it all are; her daughter (to whom she shows no care of any sort); her brother and sister-in-law (who catch-on to who she really is); her sister-in-law's brother (who falls in love with her) and parents (who are bereaved by it all)...to name a few. All in the name of what you ask? Being a coquettish pro, Lady Susan desires freedom to flirt while respectfully mingling in society, enhanced by the cherishing comforts of wealth within a marriage ...and preferably to a man who'd be oblivious to it all. If you're in need of a quick Austen fix, I recommend you read this. You won't be disappointed. Loved it!

An early work that is outrageously fun and artfully melodramatic

Jane Austen's epistolary novel Lady Susan has never received much attention in comparison to her other six major novels. It is a short piece, only 70 pages in my edition of The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen: Minor Works containing forty-one letters and a conclusion. Scholars estimate that it was written between 1793-4 when the young author was in her late teens and represents her first attempts to write in the epistolary format popular with many authors of her time. In 1805, she transcribed a fair copy of the manuscript but did not pursue publication in her lifetime. The manuscript would remain unpublished until 54 years after her death with its inclusion in the appendix of her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh's biography of his aunt, A Memoir of Jane Austen in 1871. The story centers around its titular character, Lady Susan Vernon, a very recent widow in her mid thirties. Described by her sister-in-law Catherine Vernon as "delicately fair" possessing "an uncommon union of symmetry and brilliance," these positive attributes may be the only compliments that she receives in the whole novel. There is more than a breath of scandal preceding Lady Susan's arrival at her in-laws estate of Churchill. The gossip mill claims that while staying as a guest at Langford, she was evicted by its Mistress Mrs. Manwaring for engaging at the same time, the affections of two men who were "not at liberty to bestow them," namely her husband, and the fiancé of her young sister-in-law. Nonplused, she moves on to her next residence the country estate of her deceased husband's younger brother Charles Vernon and his wife Catherine. When word reaches Mrs. Vernon's younger brother Reginald De Courcy that Lady Susan will be her houseguest, he is eager to meet the most "accomplished coquette in England" promptly arriving knowing full well her scandalous past. Her unprincipled artifice and its fallout can all be explained, and very cleverly. Possessing a command of the language that can "make black appear white," she prides herself upon the pleasure of making a person predetermined to dislike her convert to her advocate. It is not long before Reginald falls into her net of deceit and under her romantic control, much to the displeasure of his family. Revolving around this "Mistress of deceit" is her terrified sixteen-year old daughter Frederica who she is attempting to marry off to a wealthy buffoon Sir James Martin, the elderly De Courcy parents who hear all the news of the infamous Lady Susan through their daughter Mrs. Vernon, and Lady Susan's confidant, the equally unscrupulous Alicia Johnson married to a gouty man who in Lady Susan's view is "too old to be agreeable, too young to die." They are two peas in a pod, and through Lady Susan's disclosure to her friend, we see her schemes, machinations, and truly captivating wicked nature. Outrageously fun and artfully melodramatic, Lady Susan is the sleeper novel of Jane Austen's oeuvre whose greatest fault lies in its comp

Jane Austen's least known novel is one of her wittiest and most charming.

Though Lady Susan is considered part of Jane Austen's "juvenilia," having been written ca. 1805, it was not published till well after Jane Austen's death and is still not counted among her "six novels." In fact, this seventh novel, though not as thoughtful or thought-provoking as the "famous six," is one of her wittiest and most spirited. Written in epistolary style, it is the story of Lady Susan, a beautiful, recent widow with no conscience, a woman who is determined to do exactly what she wants to do, to charm and/or seduce any man who appeals to her, and to secure a proper marriage for her teenage daughter, whom she considers both unintelligent and lacking in charm. Lady Susan, the character, has no redeeming qualities, other than her single-mindedness, and her problems, entirely self-imposed, show the extremes to which an unprincipled woman will go to ensure her own pleasure and ultimately a more secure, comfortable life. As Lady Susan manipulates men, women, and even her young nieces and nephews, her venality knows no bounds, and when she determines that her daughter Frederica WILL marry Sir James, a man who utterly repulses her, Lady Susan's love of power and her willingness to create whatever "truth" best suits her purpose become obvious. Austen must have had fun writing this novel which "stars" a character who to appears to be her own opposite. While this novel is not a pure "farce," it is closer to that than anything else Austen ever wrote. Containing humor, the satiric depiction of an aristocratic woman of monstrous egotism, her romantic dalliances and comeuppances, and her ability to land on her feet, no matter what obstacles are thrown in her path, the novel is a light comedy in which the manners and morals of the period are shown in sharp relief--Lady Susan vs. Catherine Vernon, her sensible sister-in-law; the free-wheeling Lady Susan and those who love the city vs. the moral grounding of those who live in the country; the sexual power of an unprincipled woman vs. the "proper ladies" who, along with their husbands, become her victims. While this novel is not as "finished" as her more famous novels (the conclusion is weak), it shows Austen as a more playful novelist than in her other novels, an author who is obviously having fun introducing a wild card like Lady Susan into polite society to show how ill-equipped men are to deal with someone so clever. This surprising novel by Austen shows her as a careful observer of society but a polite critic of that society at the same time. Mary Whipple Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Classics) Pride and Prejudice (Vintage Classics) Mansfield Park (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) Emma (Penguin Classics) Northanger Abbey (Barnes & Noble Classics) Persuasion (Penguin Classics)

It's Austen. What's not to like?

Lady Susan is arguably Jane Austen's least interesting work. But, being Austen, that means it's still more interesting than virtually anything else ever written.

Jane Austen's least known novel is one of her wittiest and most charming.

Though Lady Susan is considered part of Jane Austen's "juvenilia," having been written ca. 1805, it was not published till well after Jane Austen's death and is still not counted among her "six novels." In fact, this seventh novel, though not as thoughtful or thought-provoking as the "famous six," is one of her wittiest and most spirited. Written in epistolary style, it is the story of Lady Susan, a beautiful, recent widow with no conscience, a woman who is determined to do exactly what she wants to do, to charm and/or seduce any man who appeals to her, and to secure a proper marriage for her teenage daughter, whom she considers both unintelligent and lacking in charm. Lady Susan, the character, has no redeeming qualities, other than her single-mindedness, and her problems, entirely self-imposed, show the extremes to which an unprincipled woman will go to ensure her own pleasure and ultimately a more secure, comfortable life. As Lady Susan manipulates men, women, and even her young nieces and nephews, her venality knows no bounds, and when she determines that her daughter Frederica WILL marry Sir James, a man who utterly repulses her, Lady Susan's love of power and her willingness to create whatever "truth" best suits her purpose become obvious. Austen must have had fun writing this novel which "stars" a character who to appears to be her own opposite. While this novel is not a pure "farce," it is closer to that than anything else Austen ever wrote. Containing humor, the satiric depiction of an aristocratic woman of monstrous egotism, her romantic dalliances and comeuppances, and her ability to land on her feet, no matter what obstacles are thrown in her path, the novel is a light comedy in which the manners and morals of the period are shown in sharp relief--Lady Susan vs. Catherine Vernon, her sensible sister-in-law; the free-wheeling Lady Susan and those who love the city vs. the moral grounding of those who live in the country; the sexual power of an unprincipled woman vs. the "proper ladies" who, along with their husbands, become her victims. While this novel is not as "finished" as her more famous novels (the conclusion is weak), it shows Austen as a more playful novelist than in her other novels, an author who is obviously having fun introducing a wild card like Lady Susan into polite society to show how ill-equipped men are to deal with someone so clever. This surprising novel by Austen shows her as a careful observer of society but a polite critic of that society at the same time. Mary Whipple
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