Lady Susan Plays the Game Paperback – 28 Jul 2016
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About the Author
Janet Todd is an internationally renowned scholar of early women writers. She has edited the complete works of England's first professional woman writer, Aphra Behn, and the Enlightenment feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, as well as novels by Charlotte Smith, Mary Shelley and Eliza Fenwick and memoirs of the confidence trickster Mary Carleton.
Janet Todd is the general editor of the 9-volume Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen and editor ofJane Austen in Context and the Cambridge Companion to Pride and Prejudice. Among her critical works areWomen's Friendship in Literature, The Sign of Angellica: Women, Writing and Fiction 1660-1800 and theCambridge Introduction to Jane Austen. She has written four biographies: of Aphra Behn and three linked women, Mary Wollstonecraft, her daughter, and her aristocratic Irish pupils. Lady Susan Plays the Game is her first foray into fiction.
In the 1970s Janet Todd taught in the USA, during which time she began the first journal devoted to women's writing. Back in the UK in the 1990s she co-founded the journal Women's Writing. Janet has had a peripatetic and busy life, working at universities in Ghana, the US, and Puerto Rico, as well as England and Scotland. She is now an emeritus professor at the University of Aberdeen and lives in Cambridge.
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Lady Susan Plays the Game takes the events revealed in Austen's Lady Susan and expands on them. By retelling the story in 3rd person rather than in epistolary format we're able to explore some of the backstory and spend time with some of the characters who didin't feature as largely in the original letters (I really enjoyed getting to know more about Frederica, Lady Susan's daughter). Being a 21st century novelist rather than an 18th century one (which I think is probably when Austen wrote Lady Susan although it was published posthumously), Todd is able to be a lot more explicit in some areas than Austen could be: Lady Susan's indiscretions are certainly no longer left to the reader's imagination!
It took me a while to adjust to the third person narrative and I have no idea whether I would say Todd managed to capture Austen's style, but I found this to be an enjoyable, humourous read and I enjoyed Todd's take on the characters from the original novel.