One of Jane Austen’s shortest works, “Lady Susan” is an epistolary novel, a novel told entirely in the letters of its title character, her friends and family. “Lady Susan” is the story of a recently widowed woman who is actively searching for a new marriage while trying to play matchmaker for her daughter as well.
This is not a well known Austen book, and is rather short. Austen adopts a different writing style, and narrates the whole book in a series of letters. This did not ruin the story however, as each letter was extremely descriptive, so one also knew what was going on. In fact, this way of narrating gave each character a little more depth as it allowed the reader to see what the character was really thinking.
The story follows Lady Susan, who had not been widowed long, search for a new husband. She is manipulative and cunning. She goes and stays with her brother-in-law and attempts to make a union with her sister-in-law’s brother. We follow her through her bid to do this, and see the reaction of her sister-in-law and the other side of the family. Susan also attempts to sort out a suitable marriage for her daughter, who seems timid and shy. She is not a nice character, however I was intrigued by her and wanted to know the outcome of her fate.
This is not my favourite Austen, even though it did contain the usual Austen traits, of love, class, manipulation and family. I did find I had to force myself to finish the book, and the ending was fairly predictible.
The book did make me ask a few questions though – such as who was Austen? Does she relate to any of the characters in her books? Was she manipulating, or just surrounded by it?
Overall, I found this book to be just OK. I can see why it isn’t one of the more popular Austen novels.