Rating – 5 stars.
There is exquisite pleasure in subduing an insolent spirit, in making a person pre-determined to dislike, acknowledge one’s superiority.
This epistolary novel by the brilliant and incomparable Ms. Jane Austen is a short fare. Revolving around the most un-Austenlike female protagonist possible. Surely Ms. Austen’ protagonists are always lively, pretty, charming women with graceful manners. These fashionable women also have an air of elegance about them, not to mention they are always witty and stubborn though not entirely gullible but a tad bit naïve for sure.
Lady Susan, the titular character of this novel is most of these things too. She is graceful, elegant, fashionable, a celebrated beauty, stubborn, charming and eloquent for sure, but the one thing that she isn’t is naïve.
In fact she is the very antithesis of a heroine – with her manipulative ways, her shrewdness, her cruelty towards her own daughter and being an adulterer.
Lady Susan who has been widowed for the past four months at the beginning of the book communicates to her brother-in-law Charles Vernon, of her intention to come visit him soon.
Infamous for her flirtations, beauty and seductive ways her visit spikes the curiosity of the Vernon’ and the De Courcy’ – the family of Charles’ wife Catherine and in particular her brother Reginald. The real talent of this woman lies in beguiling even those who know her for what she truly is. Scandals are an everyday event when Lady Susan is around and yet she can convince you that if there was ever an innocent in all that was happening it was she.
A domineering mother she makes the life of her only child, her daughter Frederica a living hell quite literally.
Those that fall prey to her charm either never make it out of her web or learn it the hard way of what they got themselves into.
And though this novel like all other Austen ends on a relatively happy note you don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad.
I am not much of a fan when it comes to the style but trust Jane Austen to charm my socks off. All you read are letters – one character to another at a time and yet you can see the story unfold as if it were happening before your very eyes.
Each letter brilliantly weaves the tale of a manipulative woman who you desperately want to hate but cannot help but be seduced by all the while as you fall in love with her docile daughter, her caring sister-in-law and roll your eyes at the buffoonery of poor silly Reginald and hope he regains his wits.