Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English author known primarily for her six major novels set among the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Considered defining works of the Regency Era and counted among the best-loved classics of English literature, Austen’s books include Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. The latter two were published after her death.
Lady Susan (Illustrated + FREE audiobook link + Active TOC)by Jane Austen
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Lady Susan is a short epistolary novel by Jane Austen, possibly written in 1794 but not published until 1871. This epistolary novel, an early complete work that the author never submitted for publication, describes the schemes of the main character�the widowed Lady Susan�as she seeks a new husband for herself, and one for her daughter. Although the theme, together with the focus on character study and moral issues, is close to Austen's published work (Sense and Sensibility was also originally written in the epistolary form), its outlook is very different, and the heroine has few parallels in 19th-century literature. Lady Susan is a selfish, attractive woman, who tries to trap the best possible husband while maintaining a relationship with a married man. She subverts all the standards of the romantic novel: she has an active role, she's not only beautiful but intelligent and witty, and her suitors are significantly younger than she is (in contrast with Sense and Sensibility and Emma, which feature marriages of men who are sixteen years older than their wives). Although the ending includes a traditional reward for morality, Lady Susan herself is treated much more mildly than the adulteress in Mansfield Park, who is severely punished. (Wikipedia)
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Meet the Author
- Date of Birth:
- December 16, 1775
- Date of Death:
- July 18, 1817
- Place of Birth:
- Village of Steventon in Hampshire, England
- Place of Death:
- Winchester, Hampshire, England
- Taught at home by her father
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With a lovely sounding title as Lady Susan, who would suspect anyone more wretched a woman and mother as she. This is the first book I have ever read that consisted of a series of letters. I think the format work very well.
To some, Lady Susan's actions and self delusion may seem over the top. There is nothing redeemable about her. The trouble is that people like her do exist. Read contributions on forums for Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorders! The trouble is that unless you are one of the unfortunate individuals in their firing line, these people ensure the rest of the world thinks they are marvellous. Hats off to Jane Austen for identifying this type of behaviour at such a young age. And of understanding the personalities of the people surrounding them. Her decision to write her story as a series of letters was both brilliant and doomed to failure. The careful choosing of words and saying without saying worked really well at the start, but by midway through, the need for scenes with dialogue overrode a letter's capabilities. Had she returned to this project later in life, she may have worked a way around it, interspersing action with letters. But perhaps that would have negated what she was trying to do. Write the whole thing in the form of letters. She also possibly understood by then that characters like Lady Susan do exist, but they rarely become true heroes of a story because they never or rarely improve because they refuse to ever admit they are in the wrong. Modern psychology says the only way to deal with someone with NPD is to avoid them. From a distance, they (and Lady Susan) can be regarded with pity. It takes a special person to love them. So, while this story was never completed by the author, it remains as a true testament of her insight into people and their strengths and weaknesses.
While I would never claim that Lady Susan was among my favorites of Jane Austen's works, it was somewhat entertaining. The pains and scheming that Lady Susan went through to get her daughter married to James was interesting to watch. But it was indeed comical to see Lady Susan married to James and Fredrica married to Reginald, who was meant for Lady Susan.