Lady Susan: 06/06/15
Lady Susan by Jane Austen is an epistolary novella about an eighteenth century cougar, Lady Susan Vernon. While she is trying to marry her daughter off to the first man who will taker her, she is also looking for a second marriage for herself — to a man of means.
Lady Susan as a character reminds me most of Marcel Proust's Odette before she is wed to Charles Swann. Although Austen's book is significantly shorter than Proust's multivolume roman a clef, I found it a less compelling read.
As other reviewers have noted, Lady Susan is social commentary without the humor or romance of her later books. That's part of the problem with the book. Reading it as a series of letters, a la Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's Les Liaisons Dangereuses, leaves little chance to see the characters interact. It is through putting dissimilar characters together that Austen creates her most memorable scenes.