"In an early, untitled epistolary novella (referred to as “Lady Susan”), Jane Austen introduced one of her most compelling characters – Lady Susan Vernon – an attractive and cunning widow who believes her beauty allows her to behave in selfish, devious ways. Written during the same period in which Austen produced Elinor and Marianne, “Lady Susan” also focuses on the economic and romantic plights of two heroines displaced when the family home passes to an unworthy heir. But, while Elinor and Marianne was revised and happily expanded to become Sense and Sensibility, “Lady Susan” was abandoned. Until now.SYNOPSIS:
In LADY VERNON AND HER DAUGHTER: A Jane Austen Novel (Crown; October 2009), mother-daughter team Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway have taken letters from this epistolary novella and transformed them into a vivid, authentic, and more recognizably “Austen” work of fiction. In this enthralling reimagining, Lady Vernon and her daughter must navigate a society where a woman’s security is at the mercy of an entail, where love is hindered by misunderstanding, where marriage can never be entirely isolated from money, yet where romance somehow carries the day.
Both avid readers of Jane Austen, Caitlen and Jane worked in tandem to piece together LADY VERNON AND HER DAUGHTER. To do so, they reexamined Austen’s six great novels in order to reproduce her distinctive style and the fundamentals of her storytelling. The result is a delightful interpretation and a treat for fans of literature’s most beloved woman of letters."
Lady Vernon and Her Daughter begins with an Austenesque sentiment:
"A woman with neither property nor fortune must ward off this affliction by cultivating the beauty, brilliance and accomplishment which will blind a promising suitor to the want of a dowry and take her off the hands of a grateful family. When she is securely married, she may suspend her own improvement and turn her energies toward the domestication of her husband and the acquisition of wealthy suitors for their daughters. Still, she must never sink to complacency, but always keep sharp, for it may be her unfortunate lot to survive her spouse and she will be thrown back upon her wits once more."
Such is the plight of Lady Vernon and her daughter, Frederica. Upon the premature death of Sir Frederick Vernon, his estate passes to his younger brother and heir, Charles Vernon; Vernon chooses to regard his promises to Sir Frederick of financial support for Lady Vernon and her daughter as conditional –“only an informal understanding that Lady Vernon and her daughter would not starve.”
Penniless and homeless, Lady Vernon and her daughter are taken into the high-spirited household of their friends, the Manwarings; but, when Lady Vernon learns the particulars of her late husband’s understanding with Charles Vernon – specific promises of the amount to be settled upon herself and Frederica - she returns to the Vernon estate to confront her in-laws. When her sister-in-law’s younger brother, Reginald deCourcy, descends upon the household to get a look at “the most accomplished coquette in England,” his arrival sets off rumors of a romance between the young man and Lady Vernon. Meanwhile, in London, Frederica’s term in a finishing school, set down as a prelude to her marriage to a wealthy cousin, Sir James Martin, ends in scandal and expulsion.
As the tale moves from Sussex to Kent to London, romance, gossip, misunderstanding, two proposals of marriage and an unexpected arrival bring about surprising reversals of fortune in this skillful and witty revision of Jane Austen’s early novella, Lady Susan."