In an effort to complete the Classics Challenge, I read Lady Susan by Jane Austen as my fifth and final book. I must say that it has been quite an ordeal and I did manage to abandon a couple of books in the middle. I made the mistake of picking 5 heavy books for the challenge. I really should have had a few light ones in the middle. Anyways, shall follow my own piece of advice next year (Trish, hope you are planning to host the Challenge again. There’s no way I am reading Classics without a challenge!).
Lady Susan was one of Jane Austen’s first few novels (if you could even call that one).According to Wikipedia, the book was written sometime around 1794, but it was not published until 1871. The major part of this short novel is in letter format. The central character of the novel is Lady Susan. Lady Susan is far from being charming and nice like the central characters of other Austen novels. She is, in fact, selfish, flirtatious, imposing and rather manipulative. In less than a few months of her husband’s demise, she starts her quest for the next possible “victim”. Martial status doesn’t deter her in anyway.
I loved the letter-style of the book. We get to know of Lady Susan’s activities through her own letters to her friend (whose husband greatly disapproves of her friendship with Lady Susan) and the letter exchange between her brother-in-law’s wife and her mother. Lady Susan invites herself to her husband’s brother place in spite of being less than friendly with them in the past. His wife, Mrs. Vernon, writes to her mother about the atrocities of Lady Susan and her uncaring behavior towards her own daughter. The book gets eve more hilarious when Mrs. Vernon’s brother visits them while Lady Susan is in residence and lands up falling hopelessly in love with her.
Lady Susan is short and amusing. In spite of just being a collection of letters, Austen manages to convey the essence of the novel without actually making the letters sound too descriptive.
Do you know of any other book in epistolary form? (Well, the only one I have even come close to is Bridget Jones Diary (if you can consider diary entries as letters)). I would definitely like to read other books in this style. Let me know!
With Lady Susan, I have officially completed the Classics Challenge and all my challenges for this year. I can’t wait to start on books for next year’s challenges.