Monday, April 18, 2011

April - Jane Austen Society - Reading Selection Review

I've been a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America - Central New Jersey (JASNA-CNJ) since August.  We meet every other month and for some reason I've never posted about it and what we've read.  At this month's meeting we read Lady Vernon and Her Daughter and had the authors present for a book discussion.

Lady Vernon and Her Daughter : A Jane Austen Novel
Jane Rubino, Caitlen Rubino-Bradway
November 2, 2010
# Pages:

Jane Austen's novella Lady Susan was written during the same period as another novella called Elinor and Marianne–which was later revised and expanded to become Sense and Sensibility. Unfortunately for readers, Lady Susan did not enjoy the same treatment by its author and was left abandoned and forgotten by all but the most diligent Austen scholars. Until now.

In Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway have taken Austen's original novella and transformed it into a vivid and richly developed novel of love lost and found–and the complex relationships between women, men, and money in Regency England.

Lady Vernon and her daughter, Frederica, are left penniless and without a home after the death of Sir Frederick Vernon, Susan's husband. Frederick' s brother and heir, Charles Vernon, like so many others of his time, has forgotten his promises to look after the women, and despite their fervent hopes to the contrary, does nothing to financially support Lady Vernon and Frederica.

When the ladies, left without another option, bravely arrive at Charles's home to confront him about his treatment of his family, they are faced with Charles's indifference, his wife Catherine's distrustful animosity, and a flood of rumors that threaten to undo them all. Will Lady Vernon and Frederica find love and happiness–and financial security– or will their hopes be dashed with their lost fortune?

With wit and warmth reminiscent of Austen's greatest works, Lady Vernon and Her Daughter brings to vivid life a time and place 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. – Description from

Dislikes: The first 20 chapters. I struggled to get through them and at that point I wasn’t enjoying the book at all.   
Likes: Everything from chapter 21 on. The thing I liked the most was the authors’ attention to detail and the writing style that truly made it sound as if Jane, herself, wrote this story.  It has the humor and wit of Jane Austen’s work a story that while doesn’t stay true to the original letters does put them into a context that makes sense and completes the story.

I think two of my favorite characters are Sir Reginald and Sir James.  They are two of the more likable characters and two of the wittiest, in my opinion.

Overall Impression: Overall I enjoyed the book.  At the meeting we had the authors present and it was a joy to listen to them speak about the book.  There was one Jane Austen purist who didn’t like the book, but most of us were delighting to read a spin-off that was actually good. We are all so hesitant to pick up books based on Jane Austen works because for the most part they don’t work; they aren’t true to the story or to Jane’s sense and style.  The authors shared how they worked to keep true to Jane’s style of writing and would search through her works to find correct phases and word usages. I was impressed with their level of detail work to really try to make this work different from other Jane Austen styled books.

I ended up liking the change in characterization of what you originally feel about them in Lady Susan and how they are in Lady Vernon and Her Daughter. Lady Susan is a villain where as Lady Vernon is just misunderstood in a way.  By the middle of the book I forgot that I didn’t like Lady Vernon when I started reading and started to feel for her and wanted things to work out for her and Frederica.


  1. I am also a fan of this wonderful book. Early last year these ladies were on a panel at the Morgan Library and I was fortunate enough to attend, which allowed me to hear them talk about the book and to see the "fair copy" of the original "Lady Susan".
    I did like the opening chapters for the way they developed Charles Vernon. The attitude toward his father's death was one of those very Austen moments that has you both smiling and shaking your head in dismay. But, yes, the men, especially Sir James Martin were delightful.
    Ingrid D.

  2. Must be an enjoyable read Lady Susan by Jane Austen. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.