The authors of Lady Vernon and Her Daughter do their best to change all of that, and they clearly succeed. Acceptable motives are presented for Lady Vernon’s behavior. Her relationship with her daughter is positive and strong. The tables have been turned entirely from Jane Austen’s original manuscript. Lady Vernon and Frederica are the heroines, and Charles Vernon and his wife have become the self-absorbed villains of the piece. This novel is a very creative retelling of Lady Susan, full of twists and turns that Jane Austen herself would have applauded.
I confess that I am a huge Jane Austen fan. I have read each of her six novels many times, starting with Pride & Prejudice the summer before my junior year of high school. I enjoy the time period and the characters, but most of all, I enjoy Austen’s style of writing. A turn of phrase has often caused me to laugh out loud. While Rubino and Rubino-Bradway do an admirable job of imitating Austen’s style, they do miss out on the sparkle – the satiric wit that makes Austen such a pleasure to read. There are places where satire shows through, especially all the mentions of how the London gossips so continually misread the situation. But there was never a sentence that caused me to smile or laugh at the ludicrousness of a situation or character. Alas, no one can imitate the master exactly.
Lady Vernon and Her Daughter is not a seventh Jane Austen novel. But it is an impressively fleshed-out version of one of Austen’s early manuscripts. And it certainly makes for a wonderful read and an enjoyable story.