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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jane Austen's least known novel is one of her wittiest and most charming.
Though Lady Susan is considered part of Jane Austen's "juvenilia," having been written ca. 1805, it was not published till well after Jane Austen's death and is still not counted among her "six novels." In fact, this seventh novel, though not as thoughtful or thought-provoking as the "famous six," is one of her wittiest and most spirited. Written in epistolary style, it...
Published on 23 Sept. 2006 by Mary Whipple

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A dead end
The problem with these three stories is that they were unfinished when Jane Austen died, which makes them disappointing. One can speculate on how Jane Austen would have developed the stories had she lived, but it still feels a let-down to turn over a page and find there is no more - ending mid-paragraph if not mid-sentence.
Lady Susan was in letter form and one...
Published on 14 Jan. 2013 by Joan


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jane Austen's least known novel is one of her wittiest and most charming., 23 Sept. 2006
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lady Susan (Paperback)
Though Lady Susan is considered part of Jane Austen's "juvenilia," having been written ca. 1805, it was not published till well after Jane Austen's death and is still not counted among her "six novels." In fact, this seventh novel, though not as thoughtful or thought-provoking as the "famous six," is one of her wittiest and most spirited. Written in epistolary style, it is the story of Lady Susan, a beautiful, recent widow with no conscience, a woman who is determined to do exactly what she wants to do, to charm and/or seduce any man who appeals to her, and to secure a proper marriage for her teenage daughter, whom she considers both unintelligent and lacking in charm.

Lady Susan, the character, has no redeeming qualities, other than her single-mindedness, and her problems, entirely self-imposed, show the extremes to which an unprincipled woman will go to ensure her own pleasure and ultimately a more secure, comfortable life. As Lady Susan manipulates men, women, and even her young nieces and nephews, her venality knows no bounds, and when she determines that her daughter Frederica WILL marry Sir James, a man who utterly repulses her, Lady Susan's love of power and her willingness to create whatever "truth" best suits her purpose become obvious.

Austen must have had fun writing this novel which "stars" a character who to appears to be her own opposite. While this novel is not a pure "farce," it is closer to that than anything else Austen ever wrote. Containing humor, the satiric depiction of an aristocratic woman of monstrous egotism, her romantic dalliances and comeuppances, and her ability to land on her feet, no matter what obstacles are thrown in her path, the novel is a light comedy in which the manners and morals of the period are shown in sharp relief--Lady Susan vs. Catherine Vernon, her sensible sister-in-law; the free-wheeling Lady Susan and those who love the city vs. the moral grounding of those who live in the country; the sexual power of an unprincipled woman vs. the "proper ladies" who, along with their husbands, become her victims.

While this novel is not as "finished" as her more famous novels (the conclusion is weak), it shows Austen as a more playful novelist than in her other novels, an author who is obviously having fun introducing a wild card like Lady Susan into polite society to show how ill-equipped men are to deal with someone so clever. This surprising novel by Austen shows her as a careful observer of society but a polite critic of that society at the same time. Mary Whipple
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Novella and Two Unfinished Novels, 8 Feb. 2010
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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With an introduction by Margaret Drabble this collection contains the epistolary novella, Lady Susan and two uncompleted novels. Lady Susan is a complete tale but was never published in Austen's lifetime. Possibly the reason for this is that anyone who has read a lot of epistolary novels will know that the genre most definitely has limitations, and some of the devices used to circumvent these limitations can be rather bizarre. Also this type of novel had started to fall out of fashion, thus possibly deciding Austen to leave it in the drawer as it were. Despite all this though, the story is good. Lady Susan tries all her wiles and machinations to ensnare her a new husband now that she is a widower, also she decides who she wants her daughter to marry. Trying to put on a friendly and nice act doesn't always work when people find out about what she is up to, especially as one of the men she captivates is stil married.

The Watsons is the next story in this book, and is a fifty page or so fragment from an uncompleted novel. Emma Watson alas finds herself restricted in who she can marry, due to a lack of funds and that bugbear, pride. The last story is another fragment of about sixty pages and is called Sanditon. Sanditon is a wannabe seaside resort, it could be big as the developers say - after all it is one mile closer to London than Eastbourne. There are those who want to speculate and make money out of this new seaside resort, as well as the ailing hypochondriacs who want to improve their health. Alas Jane dies before she could finish this, which by what is available to us would have promised to have been a great novel, with lots of comedy, also it would have offered an insight to how such places grew and became the resorts that we still know today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading, 7 July 2010
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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I found these three works fascinating. Lady Susan is a completed novella about Lady Susan Vernon written almost completely in the form of letters. What emerges is a picture of a self-centred, manipulative and unpleasant fashionable impoverished lady. This is Jane Austen at her spikiest as Lady Susan is far worse than Mrs Norris in Mansfield Park or Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice. In fact lady Susan makes those two evil ladies look very tame.

The Watsons is a fragment of a novel whose heroine is Emma Watson - returned from many years living with an aunt who it was hoped would have left her a fortune. Unfortunately the aunt had re-married. Emma is invited to one of the local assemblies and soon attracts the attention of several gentlemen. It is unclear from this 50 page fragment whether Emma would have ended up with Mr Howard - the local clergyman - or with Lord Osbourne - the local landowner. She is unimpressed by the heartthrob Tom Musgrave who seems to attract her sisters.

Sanditon is my favourite of the three because it seems to provide much material for Jane Austen's satirical pen. It is a great pity she was not able to finish it before her untimely death in 1817. Sanditon is a seaside village which the two local landowners - Mr Parker and Lady Denham - are hoping to expand into a fashionable resort. Cheerful optimistic Mr Parker has two hypochondriac sisters and a hypochondriac brother. Mr and Mrs Parker invite Charlotte Heywood to stay with them in return for her parents caring for Mr Parker after a carriage accident. It is clear Charlotte is to be the heroine of the novel but not yet clear who the leading man is going to be when the fragment comes to a close.

The book contains a useful introduction and notes on the text as well as a further reading list.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Jane Austen., 11 April 2002
By 
John Austin "austinjr@bigpond.net.au" (Kangaroo Ground, Australia) - See all my reviews
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Our capacity to form first impressions was one that Jane Austen examines in all her fiction. Her characters sometimes are shown to form incorrect impressions. Her characters often strive to give false impressions. None of her fictional characters is as preoccupied with setting up a public image in order to gain her own ends as the Lady Susan who gives this novella its name. Lady Susan is the archetypal coquette, the skilled deceiver. She is Thackeray’s Becky Sharp, fifty years before her time.
Jane Austen plays the game of deception with us too. In this novella, which is almost entirely in epistolary form, we form the impression from reading Lady Susan’s first letter, that she is a grieving widow, devoted to the care and education of her 16 year old daughter, and willing at last to accede to her brother-in-law’s pressing invitation to stay with him and his family. Wrong! We too have been duped, as we soon discover.
Jane Austen first drafted several of her novels in epistolary form, that is to say, in the form of letters exchanged by her characters. This one, which may have been the earliest of all her surviving works, alone remained in this form. And great fun it is, although Lady Susan’s contriving and heartlessness, especially in regard to her daughter, sometimes goes beyond the comic to the cruel.
Naxos has added to the fun that this “entertainement” can provide by issuing the novella in audio book form. Seven actors are allocated the parts of the seven letter writers. Furthermore, there is no abridgement of the text, and there are some snatches of music that serve to provide breaks between the letters and indicate the passing of time. Altogether, an ideal production.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars `The most accomplished coquette in England', 19 July 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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Lady Susan, the only complete work in this collection, is Austen's brief and minor epistolary novel, a kind of English Les Liaisons Dangereuses which also writes back to Richardson's Pamela published about 50 years earlier. It is presented here with two fragments from unfinished novels, The Watsons and Sanditon, each about 50 pages long.

Lady Susan is Austen's most blatant anti-heroine: she's beautiful, eloquent and charming but also manipulative, selfish and immoral, carrying on an affaire with a married man while plotting to sell her daughter to a rich husband, and generally causing emotional mayhem for the sheer fun of it.

Given Austen's own conservative outlook Susan, we know, has to get her come-uppance. But in an age when women were commoditised by society, had few options other than marriage, and were generally bound to the household, a husband and motherhood, Susan is an exhilarating voice who disturbs all that Georgian society holds most dear.

This isn't a sophisticated work (Austen may only have been 19 or 20 when it was written) and it's quite unlike the later novels. But Susan sows the seeds for later characters such as Mary Crawford and the Bertram sisters (Mansfield Park) who draw traits of their more complex personalities and representations from her.

So an interesting read as far as juvenalia goes: this may only be short but it has relevant parallels with the later novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Least known, this is one of Austen's wittiest, most charming, 21 Feb. 2006
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lady Susan (Paperback)
Though Lady Susan is considered part of Jane Austen's "juvenilia," having been written ca. 1805, it was not published till well after Jane Austen's death and is still not counted among her "six novels." In fact, this seventh novel, though not as thoughtful or thought-provoking as the "famous six," is one of her wittiest and most spirited. Written in epistolary style, it is the story of Lady Susan, a beautiful, recent widow with no conscience, a woman who is determined to do exactly what she wants to do, to charm and/or seduce any man who appeals to her, and to secure a proper marriage for her teenage daughter, whom she considers both unintelligent and lacking in charm.
Lady Susan, the character, has no redeeming qualities, other than her single-mindedness, and her problems, entirely self-imposed, show the extremes to which an unprincipled woman will go to ensure her own pleasure and ultimately a more secure, comfortable life. As Lady Susan manipulates men, women, and even her young nieces and nephews, her venality knows no bounds, and when she determines that her daughter Frederica WILL marry Sir James, a man who utterly repulses her, Lady Susan's love of power and her willingness to create whatever "truth" best suits her purpose become obvious.
Austen must have had fun writing this novel which "stars" a character who to appears to be her own opposite. While this novel is not a pure "farce," it is closer to that than anything else Austen ever wrote. Containing humor, the satiric depiction of an aristocratic woman of monstrous egotism, her romantic dalliances and comeuppances, and her ability to land on her feet, no matter what obstacles are thrown in her path, the novel is a light comedy in which the manners and morals of the period are shown in sharp relief--Lady Susan vs. Catherine Vernon, her sensible sister-in-law; the free-wheeling Lady Susan and those who love the city vs. the moral grounding of those who live in the country; the sexual power of an unprincipled woman vs. the "proper ladies" who, along with their husbands, become her victims.
While this novel is not as "finished" as her more famous novels (the conclusion is weak), it shows Austen as a more playful novelist than in her other novels, an author who is obviously having fun introducing a wild card like Lady Susan into polite society to show how ill-equipped men are to deal with someone so clever. This surprising novel by Austen shows her as a careful observer of society and a polite critic of that society at the same time. Mary Whipple
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Austen in sparkling form, 5 Jan. 2012
By 
sally tarbox (aylesbury bucks uk) - See all my reviews
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Although the Watsons and Sanditon are incomplete, Austen is just as sparkling in these works as in her six other masterpieces.
Lady Susan is an absolute horror- I love the hypocrisy that she shows in her letters; the honeyed tones with which she wheedles an invite out of her brother-in-law followed by a letter to her best friend where she expresses her true feelings on said relatives. And no one but Susan would dare evaluate her friend's husband as 'too old to be agreeable, and too young to die' !
Sanditon was humourous from the start, as we are introduced to Mr Parker, obsessed with promoting his home town as a resort. There was a lot of potential for a fascinating story, with numerous characters introduced; sadly Austen died before its completion.
In the Watsons I could see echoes of Pride and Prejudice as our poor heroine mixes with the wealthy but arrogant Tom Musgrave, and rejects his advances. Again this is unfinished (though Drabble's useful notes tell us the path Austen designed the story to take.)
If you love Austen's work you should absolutely read these too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tantalising taster, 29 July 2011
For those who cannot get enough of Jane Austen, two tantalising introductions. When each segment came to an end I was left longing for more. If only she had completed them...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Austen fragments, 6 April 2012
By 
Cloggie Downunder (Australia) - See all my reviews
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This is an omnibus of Jane Austen's unpublished novel, Lady Susan, with two unfinished novels, The Watsons and Sanditon.
Lady Susan was written early in Austen's writing career, around the time she was writing Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey, and is in the format of letters. Lady Susan Vernon, finding herself in straitened circumstances after the death of her ailing husband, is forced to put her sixteen-year-old daughter into school and live with her brother-in-law, Charles Vernon, and his wife Catherine, at Churchill. Lady Susan is beautiful, charming and artful; her letters show she is also extravagant, scheming, manipulative and selfish, although she is adept at hiding this from those she seeks to influence. A very short novel, by Austen standards, and not a format that showcases her writing talent, this novel still amply illustrates her mastery of plot and character.
The Watsons is a fragment of the novel written when Austen's family moved from Steventon to Bath, an unhappy period in her life. Emma Watson, youngest of the Watson girls, has lived with her aunt and uncle for fourteen years. When her uncle dies and her aunt remarries, her expected inheritance disappears and she has to return to the family home: an ailing father, and three sisters she does not know. Invited by well-off friends, the Edwards, to town and a ball, Emma meets a cast of characters who are to influence her future. The Watson family is a humble one by Austen's usual standards, although the heroine shows great promise and the plot has endless possibilities. While it is frustrating to not know the ending, the reading is, nonetheless, pleasurable.
Sanditon is a fragment of the last novel Austen ever wrote, written at the time of Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Emma. A carriage accident in which Tom Parker sprains his ankle as he and his wife Mary are returning to the seaside town of Sanditon begins the long and important acquaintance between the Parkers and the Heywood family. The eldest Heywood daughter, 22 year old Charlotte, is exhorted to accompany the Parkers back to Sandition to benefit from taking the sea air and to bathe. What follows is Charlotte's impressions of the extended Parker family and the residents of Sanditon who are committed to making their town a popular vacation spot for families. The characters are comical and the plot has great potential; a great shame that it was unfinished due to Austen's illness and death. However short, the quality of the writing is still apparent.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real treat, 11 Nov. 2011
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This volume was an utter delight to read. These are the only works of Jane Austen I have not read and/or reread and I had put off the fateful day because I don't like reading things which aren't finished as a rule. I was desperate for something wonderful to read and decided to chance my arm with this. I'm glad I did. Lady Susan, an epistolary novella, is the only one of the works that was finished. I loved it. I am a fan of the epistolary novel anyway, and I liked the scheming character of Lady Susan very much. The letters are written with verve and liveliness and a very modern sense of pace that make it a delight to read.

The Watsons was my least favourite of the three offerings in the book. I found the characters a bit grating, although you could see their potential had she ever had the chance to develop things further, but it really was too short to become truly engaged in what was happening.

Sanditon is funny, witty and has an array of wonderful characters that reminded me somewhat of Gaskell's Cranford ladies. It is such a shame it never got finished as I know I would have loved it.
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