Monday, June 13, 2016

Lady Susan (At Long Last!)


It is a very shaming thing for me to admit that it has taken me this long, in all my seven years of being a Janeite, to finish reading Lady Susan, the only other story besides the major six novels that Jane Austen completed during her adult life.  Such a fact is so very dreadfully mortifying.

But now I have finished it.  I still did not read the whole thing: I listened to most of it.  Which I used to think didn't exactly "count".  I have since changed my mind, having become a very busy young lady who has little time to read, and when she does have the time, has little energy for anything that requires more thinking than watching a movie or scrolling through Pinterest.  Driving to work, however, takes me 25 minutes each way, and therefore I have almost an hour of spare time right there-- but of course I can't read.  I can listen, however.  And so I have been doing.

It was hard for me to get into Lady Susan to begin with, and I think that's because I wasn't used to reading Jane Austen's epistolary style, even though it's predominantly how she wrote all of her earlier stories.  The characters and character names and complicated relations to each other can also be very confusing.  I found that listening to it (taking advantage of a free recording from Librivox) helped immensely because there was a different person to read each character.

Lady Susan is technically a "novella" and was written by Jane Austen roundabout 1795 (which means she was 19-21ish).  It was during her prolific beginnings of being an author, when she also wrote  First Impressions and Elinor and Marianne.  It's very different from her other stories, however, and more easily compared with her juvenilia.  Unlike our beloved favorites, it's not romantic comedy-- it's just comedy.

That is, it deals with relationships between men and women, but it's more about the follies and foibles of both.  It seems both realistic and ridiculous at the same time.  The title character is what you've probably heard called an "anti-heroine."  I would say that although she is the one who drives the plot, there is no precise main character.  I felt it focused on Catherine Vernon as much as Lady Susan, the former being a sensible character and easy to relate to.

Lady Susan is a people-pleaser.  She focuses on pleasing the men, of course, but she isn't just a common flirt-- she's viciously clever.  Regular flirts use the same technique on everyone, and it doesn't WORK on everyone.  Lady Susan is more interesting since she studies various characters and knows what will please or convince them as individuals (or at least as one of a type).  Although she is easier for women to see through, she still takes pains to win some of them over, too.  And that's why I liked Catherine Vernon... she always saw through Lady Susan's schemes and, although a totally different kind of lady herself, knew What Was Up. (Catherine is Lady Susan's late husband's brother's wife.  She refers to her as "sister.")

I also felt the most sorry for her because her brother was being Stupid a lot of the time and wouldn't LISTEN to his sister, and brothers should listen to the wisdom of their sisters, especially concerning other women-- but they don't, which is something Jane Austen's satire lights upon in this story.

The whole story feels lighthearted though, really, in the way that only Jane Austen knows how to write.  She has such an interesting way of discreetly making fun of people.  I say discreetly, because she doesn't TELL you she's making fun of them-- she just does it.

It seems every time I actually read something written by Jane Austen, I am reminded of why I like her so much.  Just watching movies and reading fanfiction and everything that is not simply Jane Austen, one is liable to forget.  She's the best, and that is all there is to it.

I will be back soon with a handy-dandy guide for all of you who were confused as I am about the characters.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sierra Boggess as Elinor Dashwood

Yes, you read that post title right!  My second-favorite singer has portrayed a beloved Jane Austen heroine!
Sierra Boggess

I knew that this was going on some time ago; rather than a performance it was some kind of 'read-through' of the Sense & Sensibility musical.  But I was very excited at the prospect of getting to listen to it!  I knew this website put recordings you can listen to for free, so would they offer these as well?

I kept checking back for several months, and then gradually forgot all about it.  Then the other day at work I was listening to another recording of the S&S musical on my MP3 player (yep, we're allowed to listen to music while we shelve at my library... gals, my library, and my supervisor, is the BEST) and thought to myself, Oh yeah, I haven't checked that in a while!

So I checked it.

AND THERE IT WAS. You can listen to the entire thing here.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Jan Austen, whoever she may be, is very proud.


The horror.
The atrocity.
The stupidity.
The mistake I have never before seen anyone make.
Let us hope it is a typo.

(Isn't the IMDb page lovely, though?! So refreshing after, you know, zombies and such...)

(Also, prepare yourself for many Lady Susan posts coming up.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

In Which I Am Reminded What A Crazy Janeite I Actually Am

LADIES, LADIES, LADIES!!!!!!!!


LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP IS IN THEATERS AND SUDDENLY WITHIN MY REACH!!!!

For the first time, the very first time, since I became a fan of Jane Austen, there is a real adaptation now in theaters (it's the BACKGROUND of IMDb, for Pete's sake!!!) and I am itching, aching, dying to see it!!!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Ridiculous Regency: Edition the First

So, as most of you know, I work at a library, and the majority of my time is spent taking books on or off shelves, organizing them, checking them in, and sending them to other libraries.  Lately I have been amusing myself by writing down the book titles on ridiculous "historical fiction" covers that I see.  The best (or worst) ones are the supposedly "Regency" books.

Anyway, I thought you might like to snark over them with me, so here we go.


This is the one that started me off.  I looked underneath the title where it says "A Regency Romance" and I think I probably scoffed rather loudly.  Excuse me? Regency??  What Regency lady would ever go around with her hair spilling about her like that-- and also, where on EARTH did she get the (amply applied) mascara and eyeliner?

While we're at it, let's take a look at the synopsis.

Southern belle Meg Burton is her parents’ last hope of avoiding financial ruin, and a distant cousin’s kind gesture seems an ideal solution: he will sponsor Meg for a London Season. The pursuit of a wealthy husband was not exactly how the bookish young woman had envisioned her first trip abroad—after all, what does a girl from Charleston, South Carolina, know about being a lady? Amidst the stunning gowns and extravagant balls of the ton, Meg feels like an imposter [sic]. Thankfully, she has one friend who knows her true self—Carlo, a handsome stable hand. Despite their difference in station, love blossoms between the unlikely pair, and Meg is sure of one thing: she wants nothing to do with the insufferable European aristocracy.

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