Get it here.
I am a big Jane Austen fan, but have never read this novella for some reason – perhaps I have always regarded it as a piece of juvenilia. It is fair to consider this an immature work, compared with her later novels, but an immature Jane Austen is still worth ten ordinary novelists at the height of their powers.
The ‘Lady Susan’ of the title is that rarest of creatures in Jane Austen: a completely evil character, whose only redeeming feature is that she is so funny. Elizabeth Bennet could have written this book, before she realised that there are two sides to every story. Also, she seems to have thought that marrying for the greater good of the family was perfectly acceptable, an attitude I have always noted in her later books as well. Hollywood prefers her romances to be all about the heart, but I suspect that Jane’s readers took as much satisfaction in the neat financial arrangements, as in the couple being a willing match. Then again, I suppose Hollywood likes its modern heroes to have a healthy degree of financial independence as well, so perhaps nothing has changed.
This audiobook has a big advantage over the original text: it was written as a series of letters, and when I read such a book, I am always having to remind myself who is writing to who. With one voice for each correspondent, however, this recording has real added value, and frees you up to enjoy the story. Great idea!