"Lady Susan" is an epistolary novel whose eponymous anti-heroine, unlike the women featured in Austen's other works, is bad to the bone. When the book opens, Lady Susan, a stunningly beautiful widow in her upper thirties, has just been sent packing from the home of a family she had spent some months with, having been discovered carrying on a flagrant affair with the husband of the family, right under his wife's nose. She takes refuge with her kind-hearted brother and his sensible wife, who sees through Lady Susan from the day she enters the house and can't wait to see her leave. Also in the home are Lady Susan's teenage daughter, who has been expelled from boarding school after attempting to run away so that she won't be forced into marrying the rich, fatuous nobleman her mother has picked out for her; and the younger brother of Lady Susan's sister-in-law, who has heard intimations about Lady Susan's unsavory reputation; in retaliation for his initial disdain, Lady Susan sets out to captivate him and succeeds so well that she has him on the brink of proposing marriage to her, despite the fact that he is 12 years younger than she is, much to the alarm of his family. It looks as though he is about to fall into her clutches, when a chance meeting between him and the wife of Lady Susan's lover blows all Lady Susan's machinations, as well as her reputation, to smithereens. Lady Susan, to save what is left of her honor, ends up marrying the rich, fatuous nobleman she intended for her daughter; Jane Austen slyly hints that Lady Susan and her married lover will continue their affair under the noses of both their spouses. The book's ending is in a narrative style that appears simply tacked on, as if Austen got tired of both the story and the epistolary style she wrote it in; but on the whole, it's an enjoyable read, interesting mostly because it is so different in style and content from the books we're familiar with.
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Recent Forum Posts on Lady Susan
Austen is a talented writer in many respects, some can even argue that she is amongst the English novelist. However, I don't believe that Lady Susan falls into this discussion, only in the sense that her utilization of the popular eighteenth century novel form was fairly unsuccessful. What the letter form does uniquely is provide the reader with an interesting perspective on the primary letter writer, generally the protagonist. The problem with Lady Susan is that its incorporation of many different character voices in such a short novel, which seemingly blends most of the characters traits together. In a way all the male and female resemble each other, except for Lady Susan herself. It even becomes difficult to distinguish the characters apart, because of how alike their speech and actions are. Lady Susan is the only character with a recognizable voice, and that is merely to serve Austen's plot for the novel. I will even go as far as to conjecture that Austen herself notices this, and remedies this sort of problem by developing free indirect discourse, in which the narrator provides personal insight into a particular character.
I read the book Lady Susan on the train back home after visiting my family during the holidays, and I liked the book, but at the same time I was annoyed by the character Lady Susan. How would you describe her character and the way she acts? How do you feel about her as a character?
hello everybody! I'm doing my thesis on Jane Austen and the main subject is Lady Susan, but I try to analize also the connection between Jane Austen and the vogue of the eighteenth century of epistolary fiction. I think Lady Susan is the perfect heroine of this period and of this literary genre. I need a help in analyzing Jane Austen's style in this story and I thank everybody who could help me.