Susan is a prequel of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan which allows the reader to get to know one of the most dislikeable characters Austen ever created and make him sympathize with her. In this book, we are introduced to young Susan Smithson and learn a little more about her background and the events that made her who she is.
The writing style in Susan, even if it is not an epistolary novel, is incredibly similar to Jane Austen’s. I was impressed with the approach Alice McVeigh had towards the characters, the development of the story, and how she penned everything is such a regency style manner. Every detail seemed to be in line with what I saw happening in Lady Susan, and that was what captivated me the most during the first part of the book, when the characters are still being introduced to the reader, and the pieces of the puzzle still being laid out in front of him.
It took me a while to connect with the characters, but once I did, I couldn’t stop reading to know what would happen. I found myself wanting to know more about Lady Cuthbert’s marriage, cheering up for Alicia and hoping Susan would never turn her back on her cousin. Given Susan’s constant manipulations I was always uncertain of what she would do, which made the story very exciting.
Susan’s character was also interesting for me in the sense that despite her coldness and manipulative personality, I could relate to her and even sympathize with her at times. I loved how Susan was simultaneously good to her cousin but conniving in order to achieve her goals. In fact, she was scheming and smart, but she was not mean, which is probably a facet of her personality she will develop in the future. In this book Susan is still a young lady, and she already has the traits of personality we see in Lady Susan, but she is still growing up, still learning the ways of life, and there is still some ingenuity in her that makes her more likable at the eyes of the reader. I liked this approach, because in essentials she is still the same character Austen created, but in a different stage of her life, and therefore, not yet the same as we see in Lady Susan. Alice McVeigh didn’t try to change Susan’s character to make her more favorable in the readers eyes, she simply created an interesting story where a younger version of Lady Susan is still learning how to navigate in society using her wit.
I was also pleasantly surprised with how many Austen characters from other novels were present in this book and with their influence on this story, their inclusion was smartly done, and I loved it. I personally loved reading Charlotte’s letters, witnessing how she is not so easily manipulated by Susan as other people were, and also to know Colonel Fitzwilliam’s connection and influence in Susan’s life.
Summing up, Susan is a very well written book that takes the reader into a regency storyline that becomes more and more captivating as the story progresses. It is a different JAFF novel that I recommend to those who want more then just Darcy and Elizabeth.
You can find Susan at:
and on Audible