Lady Susan has always been among the most popular of Jane Austen’s novellas. It reveals the astounding range, subtlety, artistry, and depth of thought of a true literary colossus.
As the book opens, Lady Susan, a strikingly beautiful widow in her upper thirties, has just been sent packing from the home of a family she had spent some months with, having been discovered carrying on a flagrant affair with the husband of the family, right under his wife's nose.
She takes refuge with her kind-hearted brother and his sensible wife, who sees through Lady Susan from the day she enters the house and can't wait to see her leave.
We learn this because the novella is written entirely in letters written by Lady Susan to her equally cynical and pleasure-loving confidante Alicia.
Alicia is married (for money, naturally) to the gouty and morally upright Mr. Johnson, a man “too old to be agreeable, and too young to die”.
Published in hundreds of editions and translated into virtually every modern language, it has not been out of print since 1871.
JANE AUSTEN (1775-1817), one of the greatest English authors, transformed the art of fiction. Author of numerous novels, including Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility, she is considered to be a central figure in the development of the modern novel.