Austen’s short epistolary novel on a rich family and one scheming woman tries the ‘dangerous liasons’ style… and fails to hit the right notes.

If people spent more time talking to each other and less time writing letters, this story would have been completely different. Lady Susan is the anti-hero of this story, in which she uses her beauty and her crippling influence over her daughter Frederica to try and force her into marriage with an innapropriate man who was in love with Lad Susan (while simultaneously seducing the man her daughter truly loves, who happens to technically be… her uncle?).  All this happens while Lady Susan is still stringing along a married man whom she was forced to leave because his wife was having none of it (she was staying in their house). GASP. How does this woman even have the time to write any letters?

To be honest, the whole affair was rather droll. Not only did I not care if the daughter did end up happily married to Lady Susan’s first husband’s brother’s brother in law (I think I got that right), I didn’t care if anyone ended up with anyone else. Austen’s tried and tested ‘will they, won’t they’ relationships between male and female characters just fell flat here. The fact that she is so clearly showing her hand from the onset makes it hardly believable that Reginald (uncle to Frederica, brother to Catherine) would even consider her an object of desire.

Although I had read the most famous of Austen’s works when I was a lot younger, Lady Susan had never featured on the list. Now I know why.

This review is part of my 1000 books before 30 challenge. Find out about it here.

Featured image: Creative commons picture courtesy of liz west
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