Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lady Vernon and Her Daughter

Lady Vernon and Her Daughter is an extended version of Jane Austen's forgotten manuscript, 'Lady Susan'. The storyline focuses on the economic and romantic plights of two heroines displaced when the family home passes to an unworthy heir on the death of Sir Frederick Vernon.

The style is truly reminiscent of Jane Austen, with some of the letters and original text from the novella of Lady Susan. It contains all the witty repartee and poking fun at the mores of society and the fickle minds of the Regency landed classes. The language is colourful, intricate and flows beautifully with some ironic and amusing touches that stayed with me after I put the book down. Such as this little gem:

.....declaring what a fortunate thing it was for a girl when an early engagement relieved her of the tedious business of accomplishment.

Unlike Jane Austen, the villain is a darker, more sinister presence to the two heroines than I have previously encountered in a Jane Austen novel. [Or perhaps I haven't read the right ones] The implication that the antagonist, in the form of Sir Frederick’s brother Charles, is not so much cold and uncaring, but may be a murderer too which adds another aspect to the story.

Dislodged from their comfortable lives, Lady Susan and Frederica have to find a way to secure their own future in a society which has no compassion for the impoverished and dispossessed. Frederica, who is intelligent as well as beautiful, and has aspirations for science, is suspicious of her uncle and detaches herself from him very quickly. This action gives Lady Vernon’s detractors more ammunition to use against her, piling neglectful mother onto her other faults of outrageous flirt and labelling her as being desperate to secure a second husband.

The authors create sympathy for Lady Susan Vernon immediately, and I would certainly not have been able to maintain the aloof dignity and measured silence she did with so many nasty Regency cats dishing unfounded dirt about her, and some not so privately.

Ms Rubino and Rubino-Bradway’s skill makes Lady Susan Vernon far more than a pretty face or a victim of circumstance, who doesn't panic when she discovers her brother-in-law intends to renege on any promises to look after her and Frederica. She handles her situation with aplomb, and I especially like the character of Catherine Vernon, the superior and morally bereft sister-in-law, who is the most outrageously nasty character. I was glued to the book, wondering what the awful woman would say next.

I shan’t reveal any more as I wouldn’t want to spoil a satisfying read, because this is certainly a novel to get lost in.

There is also an excellent, and very professionally produced trailer, by yet another Rubino
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