“Manwaring is more devoted to me than ever; & were he at liberty, I doubt if I could resist even Matrimony offered by him. This event, if his wife live with you, it may be in your power to hasten. The violence of her feelings, which must wear her out, may be easily kept in irritation. I rely on your friendship for this.
—Lady Susan Vernon to Mrs. Johnson, Letter 39 in Jane Austen’s Lady Susan
Ah, Lady Susan. You remind me of Undine Spragg. Wait—maybe it’s other way around. Let’s see—handsome, clever, and never quite rich enough. That certainly describes both of you. Always trying to secure the next husband, a man who is handsome, rich, and not clever enough to see through you and your heartless schemes.
Many of you, dear readers, already know that I’ve written (and spoken) about Jane Austen’s Lady Susan and Edith Wharton’s Undine Spragg before. (My essay on these two anti-heroines was published in December in Persuasions On-Line.)
But today I’m drawing attention to Lady Susan because the next meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) Nova Scotia Region will feature a reading of Robert Moss’s script for Austen’s novella. Some of our members attended the performance reading of this adaptation of Lady Susan at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York during the JASNA AGM (“Sex, Money and Power in Jane Austen’s Fiction) last October.
On February 24th at 2pm in Halifax, NS, we’ll do our best to bring these characters to life in an informal reading. Lady Susan is unlike any Austen heroine you’ve ever seen before. Which of you will read her part? (No auditions necessary.) Please email me or leave a comment here if you’d like more information and directions—or if you’d like to volunteer to read.
Whether you’re able to join us for the reading or not, you might enjoy looking at the manuscript of Lady Susan, owned by The Morgan and reproduced on the Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts website.