"A woman with neither property nor fortune must ward off this affliction by cultivating the
beauty, brilliance, and accomplishment that will blind a promising suitor to the want of a dowry."
Thus starts Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, the novel Jane Rubino and her daughter (Caitlen
Rubino-Bradway) have written based on one of Jane Austenís unfinished novellas, Lady Susan.
As written by Jane Austen, Lady Susan is a frivolous coquette, whose only objective is to marry
her daughter well, regardless of her daughterís wishes.
In Lady Vernon and Her Daughter however, Lady Susan, now Lady Vernon, is a beautiful widow
left penniless by her brother-in-law's refusal to acknowledge her husband's unwritten wishes after his
death. A more sympathetic character than in the original version, here Lady Vernon must use her wits to
stand up for her rights in a society where women were treated as property.
I found many of Jane Austen's beloved character types in this novel: gentlemen of leisure born into
money living off the family fortune or squandering same on games of cards, bored ladies gossiping among
themselves for want of a life, and strong, yet starry eyed protagonists conveniently falling in love.
The dialogue, along with the recreation of customs and places, felt authentic.
My main complaint is that the plot is thin. It revolves about—what else?—catching a good
husband without compromising your principles too much. The question of "who will marry whom" drives the
narrative. Unfortunately two thirds into the story this mystery is solved.
The book has charm and it did keep me reading, if only to see how the proposal of marriage would come
to happen. And I do recommend it, not as a book to be read in a hurry, but as one to be read at leisure
on a rainy afternoon, where time has slowed down and being transported to a world where horse drawn
carriages were the fastest way to travel might just suit your mood.