Title: Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel
Author: Alice McVeigh
Publisher: Warleigh Hall Press
Copyright: June 30, 2021
Format: E-Book, 332 Pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Pastiche, Historical Fiction Inspired by Classic Literature, Regency Romance
Familiar characters abound – Frank Churchill, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Darcy himself – but Susan – mischievous and manipulative – is the star. This is Austen that even Austen might have loved, with a touch of Georgette Heyer in the romantic sections. Fans of Bridgerton will also relish this classic regency romance, the first in a six-book series.
Sixteen-year-old Susan Smithson – pretty but poor, clever but capricious – has just been expelled from a school for young ladies in London.
At the mansion of the formidable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, she attracts a raffish young nobleman. But, at the first hint of scandal, her guardian dispatches her to her uncle Collins’ rectory in Kent, where her sensible cousin Alicia lives and “where nothing ever happens.”
Here Susan mischievously inspires the local squire to put on a play, with consequences no one could possibly have foreseen. What with the unexpected arrival of Frank Churchill, Alicia’s falling in love and a tumultuous elopement, rural Kent will surely never seem safe again…
Miss Susan Smithson is thrown out of Mrs. Ansruther’s school after she is accused of having a dalliance with the music teacher. When this occurs, the penniless orphan has no choice but to go live with her uncle George Collins’s family. Since she is a lively young beauty with dark tresses and a fair complexion, she has no shortage of admirers. Many people who meet her remark upon her loveliness and playful vivacity. She soon attracts the attention of the redoubtable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who takes a shine to her. While in this great lady’s circle, she makes the acquaintance of a young nobleman who is unsuitable for her. Afterwards, she is sent away to live with her other uncle at Hunsford rectory, in Kent.
This is a novel that any Jane Austen lover would enjoy. The author, Alice McVeigh, has done something fun and clever. She has written a prequel to Austen’s Lady Susan, about the youth of Lady Susan Vernon, but added so much more. She sprinkles in characters from other Austen novels such as Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Colonel Fitzwilliam from Pride and Prejudice and the mysterious Frank Churchill from Emma. The characterization of these already well-established characters is fantastic. The personalities and dialogue are consistently on point. At first I was unsure, but as I kept reading, I was thoroughly drawn into the story. My favorite was the rendering of Susan, as it definitely reminded me of Lady Susan’s tone from Austen’s original work. If you adore Jane Austen’s classic work and the world of Regency England, give this a try.
Originally featured on the History Novel Society website.