Welcome back everyone. I hope those of you reading Lady Susan for the first time are enjoying it as much as I am and not choking on your virtual scones in shock. As Alexa and Joana pointed out in our last discussion, Lady Susan is Jane Austen’s parody of 18th century literature, characterized by loose morals and the epistolary form. Jane meant for her to be hilariously wicked.
Our reading begins shortly after Lady Susan comes to Mr. and Mrs. Vernon’s home in Churchill. She has arrived fresh from Langford, where she conducted an affair with Mrs. Mainwaring’s husband and simultaneously deprived Miss Mainwaring of her beau, Sir James Martin. Lady Susan claims that she wants her daughter, Frederica, to marry Sir James, but Frederica, already wise to her mother’s wiles, will have none of it. Susan is a woman whose reputation precedes her, and Mrs. Vernon’s brother, Mr. De Courcy, travels to Churchill just to meet “the most accomplished coquette in England.”
Enjoy reading, and please join us in the comments section of the writer’s block forum for our discussion.
Mrs. Vernon to Mr. De Courcy
Well, my dear Reginald, I have seen this dangerous creature, and must give you some description of her, though I hope you will soon be able to form your own judgment. She is really excessively pretty; however you may choose to question the allurements of a lady no longer young, I must, for my own part, declare that I have seldom seen so lovely a woman as Lady Susan. She is delicately fair, with fine grey eyes and dark eyelashes; and from her appearance one would not suppose her more than five and twenty, though she must in fact be ten years older. I was certainly not disposed to admire her, though always hearing she was beautiful; but I cannot help feeling that she possesses an uncommon union of symmetry, brilliancy, and grace. Her address to me was so gentle, frank, and even affectionate, that, if I had not known how much she has always disliked me for marrying Mr. Vernon, and that we had never met before, I should have imagined her an attached friend. One is apt, I believe, to connect assurance of manner with coquetry, and to expect that an impudent address will naturally attend an impudent mind; at least I was myself prepared for an improper degree of confidence in Lady Susan; but her countenance is absolutely sweet, and her voice and manner winningly mild. I am sorry it is so, for what is this but deceit? Unfortunately, one knows her too well. She is clever and agreeable, has all that knowledge of the world which makes conversation easy, and talks very well, with a happy command of language, which is too often used, I believe, to make black appear white. She has already almost persuaded me of her being warmly attached to her daughter, though I have been so long convinced to the contrary. She speaks of her with so much tenderness and anxiety, lamenting so bitterly the neglect of her education, which she represents however as wholly unavoidable, that I am forced to recollect how many successive springs her ladyship spent in town, while her daughter was left in Staffordshire to the care of servants, or a governess very little better, to prevent my believing what she says.
Continue reading Lady Susan and join in the discussion at The Writer’s Block: https://austenauthors.net/writers-block/lady-susan/letters-6-8-text-and-discussion/