Classics Circuit: Lady Susan

Welcome to the Classics Circuit, Austen vs Dickens! To be fair, I should have chosen to read some Dickens, as I have only ever read A Tale of Two Cities and I hated it.  Since then, I have been fearful of Dickens.  So I took the easy way out and chose Austen, who I already know and love.

I have read Austen’s prolific six novels, which I will now list in order from favorite to least favorite, for fun!

1. Emma

2. Mansfield Park

3. Pride and Prejudice

4. Northanger Abbey

5. Persuasion

6. Sense and Sensibility

All of them are deserving of a reread right about now, especially S&S, since it’s the only Austen I really didn’t enjoy. But I digress . . . onto Lady Susan.

Lady Susan Vernon is quite the villain.  She is recently widowed and the mother of a teenage girl, Federica, and she has been traveling between the homes of friends and family. Drama certainly follows her wherever she goes; the word manipulative would be the best way to describe her.  Lady Susan thrives on flirting with men and deceiving them into believing that she is a sweet, sensitive woman.  Men fall for her guise immediately, but the other women in the novel seem to figure her out fairly quickly, adding to even more friction.

Lady Susan is written in an epistolary format, which I have a weakness for, and it did not disappoint here.  I thought the format worked extremely well, and I especially loved the fact that Lady Susan did not hold back at all when writing to her friend, Mrs Johnson.  To say she had absolutely no scruples would be an understatement–Lady Susan had no issues with laying out her malicious intent, and she was unflinchingly honest when speaking with her friend.

If you’re a fan of Austen but haven’t yet read any of her lesser known works, I would highly recommend Lady Susan.  It will not disappoint.

10 Responses

  1. I have never actually read Lady Susan. I should change that!

  2. I disliked S & S as well! My favorite is Emma, closely followed by Persuasion. I even own a Jane Austen cookbook! I plan on posting one of her recipes on my site any day now 🙂

    I do love Dickens as well. It is hard to pick between them…

  3. You totally cracked me up when you wrote the only thing you’ve read of Dickens is The Tale of Two Cities and you hated it. Such wonderful candor!! I’ve only read that, Bleak House, and Great Expectations, but maybe appreciation of him comes with age. 🙂

    I’m reading Northanger Abbey for The Classics Circuit; unlike you, I have not read nearly so much of Jane Austen. Only Pride and Prejudice, come to think of it. Hence the reason I chose her.

    But, i haven’t heard of Lady Susan so thanks for bringing it to my attention in such a great post.

  4. I have been saving certain Austens to be read at some later date, including this one. I assumed it would be some kind of lesser work since it’s not included in the list of her great epics, but it sounds like a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to it now!

  5. Lady Susan was really Austen taking some of those characters from her other books and ratcheting that odious personality a notch or two.

  6. I love Austen and have never read Lady Susan. That needs to change soon.

    A Tale of Two Cities is my least favorite Dickens, but I did love Great Expectations. Bleak House was really long, but ultimately rewarding.

  7. I am almost finished reading Austen’s main works — Mansfield Park is next — and this sounds like fun too. I look forward to it.

  8. Oooo, an Austen book starring a villainous character? How have I not heard of this book before?! I’m definitely adding it to my Austen must-read list.

  9. I read Lady Susan last year and loved it! She certainly is one of Austen’s most interesting characters, especially since she is so scandalous and mean. I’m reading Emma now, which is the last Austen novel I have left to read. Then I’ll have to start re-reading them, I suppose. 😉

  10. Lady Susan is a joy to read–actually I’ve never read it, but listened to it twice (Harriet Walter was Lady Susan, and did a superb job). I’ve often thought that Lady Susan would make a great movie–kind of like Dangerous Liasons, actually.

    Fun review.

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