Saturday, December 10, 2011

2011 (cbriii) #11 "Lady Susan" by Jane Austen

My goal is to finish the reviews of all the books I've read this year before the end of the year. And then I'm never going to get behind again. Besides the lack of time and sometimes the lack of inclination, the main challenge now is knowing where to start. I have so many to write, my procrastination tendencies kick in and I freeze in indecisive laziness while contemplating which I should write about first: the books I read at the beginning of the year that I barely remember? Or the one I just finished reading while it's still fresh in my head? In an effort to just get started, I think I'm going with the easy ones first.

Lady Susan (1795) by Jane Austen is more of a short story than a novel. Written when Jane Austen was only about eighteen years old, it is not as involved or developed as Austen's later works. However, I still very much enjoyed the read.

The story is written almost entirely through letters. Instead of Austen's generally likeable heroines, Lady Susan is more psychopath than person. She uses everyone around her, makes their lives miserable--sometimes for no obvious reason--and does not care about the consequences. Part of her design is to get her daughter married off--most likely to get her out of the way. Lady Susan's power through charisma and deceit, especially over men, dominates the story.

Especially after complaining about the female characters in David Copperfield, I feel I should mention that Jane Austen does about the same with the male characters in Lady Susan. I cannot remember so many male characters in a story being so utterly oblivious, susceptible to suggestion, and malleable as those in Lady Susan. It's very interesting considering the time period, but despite laws to the contrary, it was the women in this novel who held all the power. The men would fall easily for Lady Susan's games over and over again while most of the women saw right through her. Even the end relies on the man being persuaded and brought to his senses by the women in his life before he makes the right decision. As noticeable as this was, I still enjoyed this story, and I'd recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed Austen's works in the past.

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