Well, not sure if an ebook can be termed “on my bookshelf” but no matter – this new book out today by Austen scholar Janet Todd has already made its way to my kindle, so a virtual bookshelf it is … and I shall drop all my other reading and begin this immediately!
Professor Todd has taken on Jane Austen‘s Lady Susan in her fictional account Lady Susan Plays the Game – this is from the Bloomsbury website:
A must-read for any devotee of Jane Austen, Janet Todd’s bodice-ripping reimagining of Austen’s epistolary novel Lady Susan will capture your literary imagination and get your heart racing.
Austen’s only anti-heroine, Lady Susan, is a beautiful, charming widow who has found herself, after the death of her husband, in a position of financial instability and saddled with an unmarried, clumsy and over-sensitive daughter. Faced with the unpalatable prospect of having to spend her widowed life in the countryside, Lady Susan embarks on a serious of manipulative games to ensure she can stay in town with her first passion — the card tables. Scandal inevitably ensues as she negotiates the politics of her late husband’s family, the identity of a mysterious benefactor and a passionate affair with a married man.
Accurate and true to Jane Austen’s style, as befits Todd’s position as a leading Austen scholar, this second coming of Lady Susan is as shocking, manipulative and hilarious as when Jane Austen first imagined her.
You can read a post by Janet Todd here at the Bloomsbury Reader blog – where she “tells us her thoughts on writing, language, and the pressure of re-imagining Jane Austen:”
Anne Elliot, virtuous heroine of Persuasion, was ‘almost too good’ for Jane Austen. ‘Pictures of perfection… make me sick and wicked,’ she remarked towards the end of her life. All Austen’s novel heroines are indeed ‘good’: two of them initially hazard improper or injudicious remarks—Elizabeth Bennet and Emma—but later they learn to repress such high spirits.
Now look at Jane Austen’s own letters. Recollect that most of them address her beloved Cassandra who, after Jane’s death, guarded her sister’s image by burning anything she deemed unsuitable—not so much for the public, since Jane was not yet famous enough to have her private correspondence of general interest, but for the younger members of the extended family now living in high Victorian rather than racy Regency times. Yet even the unburnt letters show a woman very different from the fictional heroines, a woman with a naughty propensity sometimes to laugh at the virtuous, the vulnerable or the just plain unfortunate—a wife with an uncomely husband experiencing a still birth or young girls lacking beauty and unable to compensate for it. This Jane Austen emerges very fully in a little work she wrote just as she was entering adulthood and long before she’d published any of her masterly novels: ‘Lady Susan’….
About the Author:
Janet Todd is an internationally renowned scholar of early women writers. She has edited the complete works of England’s first professional woman writer, Aphra Behn, and the Enlightenment feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, as well as novels by Charlotte Smith, Mary Shelley and Eliza Fenwick and memoirs of the confidence trickster Mary Carleton. She is also the general editor of the 9-volume Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen and editor of Jane Austen in Context and the Cambridge Companion to Pride and Prejudice. Among her critical works are Women’s Friendship in Literature, The Sign of Angellica: Women, Writing and Fiction 1660-1800 and the Cambridge Introduction to Jane Austen. She has written four biographies: of Aphra Behn and three linked women, Mary Wollstonecraft, her daughter, and her aristocratic Irish pupils.
In the 1970s Janet Todd taught in the USA, during which time she began the first journal devoted to women’s writing. Back in the UK in the 1990s she co-founded the journal Women’s Writing. Janet has had a peripatetic and busy life, working at universities in Ghana, the US, and Puerto Rico, as well as England and Scotland. She is now an emeritus professor at the University of Aberdeen and lives in Cambridge.
- Lady Susan at Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts
- The text of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan: at The Republic of Pemberley
- The text of Lady Susan at FullBooks.com
- Janet Todd interviewed at the Vulpes Libris blog
- Information on Janet Todd at Lucy Cavendish College
c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont