Monday, October 26, 2009
As noted a few posts ago, the new book Lady Vernon and Her Daughter by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway and Jane Rubino was recently brought to my attention and I (typically) rushed right out to procure a copy. I have now finished reading it and was surprised to enjoy it as much as I did. My trepidation stemmed from the description of the book as a "completion" of Lady Susan on Amazon. I could understand if the book was marketed as an expansion, in the same way that Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice are expanded versions of Elinor & Marianne and First Impressions, but to suggest that Austen left Lady Susan incomplete rubs roughly against the grain. Upon reading the story's first chapter I found myself even more infuriated by this description, for it became clear that the characters were entirely altered from their original form: Lady Susan (Lady Vernon here, her titled having derived from a knighted husband - not sure I buy the authoresses' explanation for this) is sympathetic, Miss Vernon bookish, Sir James is a witty cousin, and Mr. Vernon a villain. But as I read on and it became clear that this wasn't a completion or an expansion of the original I began to enjoy myself. While this book is certainly inspired by Lady Susan and follows a similar plot line it is an entirely different story, with completely different thematic and moral implications than Austen's original. It is a regency romance, resembling Georgette Hayer's style more than Austen's (i.e. clearly defined romantic hero, easily recognizable villain, elaborate plot twists), and as such it is successful. I would have been happier had the authoresses created a story strictly adhering to Austen's original but, nonetheless, once I stopped tracking the discrepancies between the two, the tale is good fun. Better for those with a penchant for regency romance than the strict Austen adherents.