On Austen’s LADY SUSAN

Okay so!

A little something different today!

I recently read Jane Austen’s short epistolary piece, Lady Susan, and boy, I liked it! Five out of five stars, was vastly entertained, what fun, deliciously scandalous!

They speculate it was written about 1794, and didn’t see publication until 1871, for some reason or other. It offers a snippet of the lives of the beautiful widow Lady Susan, her poor daughter Frederica, her friend Mrs Johnson, and several other characters, letter-writing ones being Mrs Vernon (the wife of Lady Susan’s brother in law), her brother Reginald de Courcy, and their parents. Behind the scenes, we are also told something of Lady Susan’s lover, Lord Manwaring,, and his wife and daughter.

This all may sound very confusing, and it is, at first. Here, I stopped reading after the fifth letter and drew a diagram (it’s actually missing a dotted line but oh well):

susanmap

Lady Susan is delightful, and I’m just pleased to have read it. It’s more worldly than Austen’s other novels – yes, even more than Mansfield Park – and, it seems to me and as Margaret Drabble points out in the introduction of the Wordsworth edition I have, probably owes something to Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s famous epistolary work of schemes and sex, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782).* As soon as you get the characters straightened in your head, the story becomes highly entertaining, and the way Austen conveys the story through several different people writing letters is superb; it is deft and clever, with no overlaps, and with very relatable feelings.

I recommend it very, very warmly. It’s very short, maybe 60 pages, and makes excellent reading in-between books.

The reason I finally read it that there is a movie coming out. Yup! As far as I know, this is the first adaptation of Lady Susan – quite annoyingly titled Love & Friendship after another longer and better known piece of Austen’s juvenilia – and boy, it looks gorgeous! Watch the trailer HERE! (Costumes! Pretty people! Wit! Fun!)

There are no words for how much I’m looking forward to seeing this! It’s been in the works for quite a while, but is finally coming out this year. Hooray for new Austen adaptations!

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*I highly recommend Dangerous Liaisons! It’s a very decent book, and there is also a fantastic adaptation from 1988, based on the stage version of the novel, starring Glen Close as Marquise de Merteuil, John Malkovich as Vicomte de Valmont, Michelle Pfeiffer as Madame de Tourvel, Uma Thurman as Cecile de Volanges, and Keanu Reeves as Le Chevalier Danceny! Directed by Stephen Frears, too! (There are other adaptations, but this is seriously the best one.)

The Epic Reading Project: The Year in Review

Today, I have done one year of the Epic Reading Project! (For those of you who may be newly joining us, here’s an explanation of the ERP.)

YAAAAAAAY. Let’s celebrate by looking at some of my stats from the last year.

In the last 365 days, I have finished reading 118 books, out of the 338 on the list.

I have skipped (or read previously, before the project began) 44 books.

The decade with the most skips was the 90s, which is kind of impressive because I’m still only halfway through the 90s right now. It’s the goddamn cyberpunk, I tell you. Cyberpunk and I just don’t get along. I dunno what to tell you.  Out of 41 books from the 90s that I have read so far, I skipped 9 of them — 21%! In conclusion: Don’t give me cyberpunk books for my birthday.

Trivia:

  • Happily, I did not have to skip any of the 5 books from 1990, my birth year!
  • The first book of the year was Theodore Sturgeon’s THE DREAMING JEWELS
  • The last book of the year was Nancy Springer’s LARQUE ON THE WING.
  • The average time it takes me to complete a book is 1.2 days (or a squinch more than a book finished every other day. Finishing a book the same day I start it = 0 days. Finishing a book the day after I start it = 1 day. You see?)
  • I have 176 books left!
  • My spreadsheet estimates that I can complete the ERP in another 211 days of active reading. So… Roughly another year and a half in real time, if I continue at my current rate.

Some More Questions Answered!

We are posting late this week, and I take the blame – I’m working at the moment and get confused about days because of irregular shifts, and completely missed the fact that it was Saturday today. Alex found these questions at Goodreads!

1) The worst reading experience that you have ever had?

Veera: RIGHT. We can’t talk about my worst reading experiences without me screaming POSTMODERNISM. I’ve wanted to throw pretty much all postmodernist novels I’ve read. THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN. THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE (didn’t finish, still enjoyed the BBC series though). POSSESSION. CHATTERTON. …Okay fine, Peter Ackroyd is a good writer, CHATTERTON was relatively okay and I did enjoy THE FALL OF TROY. And I liked Sarah Waters’s FINGERSMITH. But as a general rule, I will not enjoy postmodernism. I find it pretentious, self-important, and just annoying.

Alex: THE NEMESIS FROM TERRA. That was so bad it was great. There will be a post on that one soon.

2) The best reading experience you have ever had?

Veera: Hmmm. So MANY. Usually the ones that surprise me, that is, that I don’t expect to enjoy as much as I do. I’m going to mention Stina Leicht’s books here, because very possibly WOW of the year and it’s not even June yet.

 Alex: Without spoilers? One time Scott Lynch made me cry. I don’t cry at books NO ONE MAKES ME FEEL MY OWN FEELINGS (note to self, replace this with the reaction gif) It was awesome.

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Questions About Books and Reading

For this Saturday’s funzies, we’re answering some more questions! This set was nicked from shevinefeels.

1: What was the last book you read?

Veera: DEATHLESS by Catherynne M. Valente, and ALAS TAIKAVIRTAA by Eduard Uspensky – the latter hasn’t been translated to English as far as I know, but the title is along the lines of “Down the Magic River”. If you haven’t read Eduard Uspensky, you’re missing out. Try his Uncle Fyodor books!

Alex: Finished Lois McMaster Bujold’s THE VOR GAME last night!

2: Was it a good one?

Veera: DEATHLESS was definitely very good. And the Uspensky is brilliant.

Alex: TVG was amazing. All of Bujold’s books are amazing. *___* Bujold~~

3: What made it good?

Veera: The magic. The use of Russian fairy and folk tales was on point, and I liked the sort of tragic melancholy.

Alex: Miles Vorkosigan. He’s a snarky lil shit with a fast brain and a faster mouth, and I love him. I would read about Miles doing literally anything, because it would be entertaining as hell and he’d somehow end up in charge of everything by the end of the book. Another thing I love about Bujold and Miles, and I’m sure I’ll shriek about this at length one day in the far future when we get to an actual review, is this: Miles is disabled, Miles is really physically unattractive, Miles still gets all the ladies. That is AWESOME. He’s clever as shit and he’s a perfect respectful gentleman, and Bujold knows that makes him hot stuff. I will write a longer, more academic rant about how great this is this when the time comes.

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A to Z Bookish Survey

(Nicked from The Perpetual Page-Turner.)

A. Author You’ve Read The Most Books From

Alex: Terry Pratchett, undoubtedly. I think I’ve read all the adult Discworld books except RAISING STEAM, and I’ve read one or two of the YA ones also. After him, probably Diana Wynne Jones.

Veera: According to Goodreads, this is Terry Pratchett for me as well. I definitely haven’t read them all, and most of ones I have read I read in Finnish.


B. Best Sequel Ever

Alex: REPUBLIC OF THIEVES? I feel like I’m going to have to try to play down my Gentleman Bastards fixation in this survey… YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN and CASTLE IN THE AIR by Diana Wynne Jones, also.

Veera: Alex took care of the yelling about Gentlemen Bastards, so I’m just going to briefly say RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES and then deviate and say THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SWORD by Ellen Kushner. It’s an independent novel, but shares characters with SWORDSPOINT and refers back to it on occasion. So good! I also really enjoyed Gail Carriger’s CHANGELESS, the second book in the Parasol Protectorate series.


C. Currently Reading

Alex: THE FALLING WOMAN by Pat Murphy.

Veera: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen, for the fourth or fifth time, I think. Continue reading