Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel (Warleigh Hall Press Jane Austen)

Written by Alice McVeigh
Review by Elizabeth K. Corbett

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.