My awesome niece, Becca
got all excited that a movie just came out which is allegedly based on Jane Austen's short, epistolary novel, a novel written early in Austen's career, but not published until some fifty years after she died. Neither Becca's mother nor her aunt responded to the call that we all go see the movie. I figured the least I could do was read the damn thing. And so I have.
This work is called an epistolary novel, although short novella
is probably more accurate. It runs only about 22,750 words. The epistolary thingie means we're basically just reading letters from one person to another, primarily Lady Susan to her friend Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Vernon to her mother, Mrs. DeCourcy.
Lady Susan is a recent widow with a 16-year old daughter whom she can't abide. The book begins with her inviting herself to her brother-in-law's for a visit, perhaps a few months. She'd caused rather a problem where she'd previously stayed, vamping the man of the house, Mr. Manwaring, and breaking up the engagement of the Manwaring daughter to Sir James Martin. Lady Susan can't decide whether she wants Sir James for herself or for her daughter, Frederica.
At her brother-in-law's house, she begins to vamp her hostess' brother, Reginald De Courcey. Basically, she's one conniving, manipulative minx, all the while claiming that everything she does is motivated by the purest of intentions. Any suggestions to the contrary, she claims, are merely malicious slander.
So, we follow Lady Susan's machinations, how they are viewed by those around her and how she views them herself. It was really a rather entertaining read. Not so sure about the movie, however.