Lady Susan and Other Works by Jane Austen
This collection brings together Jane Austen’s earliest experiments in the art of fiction and novels that she left incomplete at the time of her premature death in 1817. Her fragmentary juvenilia show Austen developing her own sense of narrative form whilst parodying popular kinds of fiction of her day. Lady Susan is a wickedly funny epistolary novel about a captivating but unscrupulous widow seeking to snare husbands for her daughter and herself. The Watsons explores themes of family relationships, the marriage market, and attitudes to rank, which became the hallmarks of her major novels. In Sanditon, Austen exercises her acute powers of social observation in the setting of a newly fashionable seaside resort. These novels are here joined by shorter fictions that survive in Austen’s manuscripts, including critically acclaimed works like Catharine, Love and Freindship [sic], and The History of England.
This edition includes:
– Frederic and Elfrida
– Jack and Alice
– Edgar and Emma
– Henry and Eliza
– Love and Freindship
– A History of England
– The Three Sisters
– Lesley Castle
– Catharine, or the Bower
– Lady Susan
– The Watsons
This was the only work by Austen I had left to read and as I usually like to start the New Year with an Austen book I decided it was high time to read this collection of works and complete the set.
I was really excited to read Austen’s juvenilia work and I was not disappointed. I was also really frustrated that so much was left unfinished. I knew it would be unfinished but I so desperately wanted to know how the stories ended.
Austen’s juvenilia stories were hilarious and you could really tell they were written by a girl who had not seen a lot of the world yet but was starting to get a good understanding of people. At times you could really see the true magic of Austen’s wit starting to develop and make itself known. There are a great deal of fainting ladies in Austen’s juvenilia works, they are either fainting on the sofa, on the floor, basically all over the place and for very little reason. One thing we do learn though is that it is better to run around like a lunatic than faint in bad weather because running around keeps the cold away and fainting will make you catch a chill with mortal consequences.
One of my favourites in this book was A History of England. I loved Austen’s clear love of Mary Queen of Scots and hatred of Elizabeth I, she is forever putting down Elizabeth I and praising Mary Queen of Scots at every opportunity. The history is not accurate and it is clear that Austen has made up quite a bit of her facts with hilarious results. There are also no dates but the monarchs are in chronological order. The added illustrations by Cassandra Austen were an added bonus.
Lady Susan I struggled to get into to begin with due to the story being written in the form of letters but once I got used to it I loved it. Lady Susan is quite a character and one I imagine people with any sense would steer clear of. She has a quite a reputation but men pay no heed to this reputation because of her way with words and her beauty. Thankfully, most women can see through this scheming character.
I could go on and on about how much I loved this book and there really wasn’t any story that I did not enjoy. It was so interesting to see Austen develop as an author and I loved her little dedications for each story. I give this book a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons and will definitely be reading it again.
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About the author
Jane Austen born 16th December 1775 died 18th July 1817 was an English novelist known for her six major novels. Austen’s novels are known for social comedy and accurate depiction of human relationships.
This review is part of my Classics Club challenge. Please click the link to see my list of 50 books.