Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lady Susan by Jane Austen // A Not-Very-Austen Heroine

Having previously read the more well known novels of Jane Austen, there there is one major difference I noticed comparing them and Lady Susan.

What I'm Reading

The rest of Austen's books, such as Pride and Prejudice and Emma, have for their main characters single women who are relatively kind-hearted, and - whether they know it or not - looking for a husband.

The title character of Lady Susan is a widow with a teenaged daughter. Lady Susan is also not in the least kind-hearted. The whole story is an exchange of letters between various character, and through this we see how Lady Susan is able to use her charming wiles (and excellent acting skills) to make everyone bend to her will. She's a powerful woman, and the reader begins to suspect that possibly - just possibly - the book might not have the characteristically happy Austen ending.

But of course, it does, because it is Jane Austen. It's even happy for Lady Susan, who seems to be able to make the best of things, even when her plans go awry. Most of the time you're rooting against her, but sometimes you feel just slightly sympathetic, and feel that maybe she is just a misunderstood soul after all.

But don't let that trick you. That's just Lady Susan's wiles working on you.

But if she can make you like her just by you reading a few letters, think how persuasive and charming she must be in real life. It's an intimidating thought.


Post Script: You may remember me mentioning the Classics Club - the challenge to read 50 classics in 5 years. I've decided to start it in about a week. Here's my list.

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