March 17, 2016

Whit Stillman annotates, adapts, and “vindicates” Jane Austen’s Lady Susan


Last week Katherine Cowdrey reported for The Bookseller that writer/director Whit Stillman is publishing a new novel based on Jane Austen‘s Lady Susan.

Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated contains the entirety of Austen’s posthumously published, epistolary novella presented alongside Stillman’s annotations and a “vindication” of the book’s heroine, Lady Susan Vernon. (Incidentally, this sounds like an essay I wrote in my Victorian Novel class at Barnard.) Love and Friendship will be published by Little, Brown in May 2016; Two Roads Books has acquired rights to the novel in the UK.

Written when Austen was less than twenty years-old, Lady Susan tells the story of a brilliant and rather successful flirt in 1790s England—to quote Austen,“the most accomplished coquette in England.” The novella follows Lady Susan as she delights in making men fall in love with her, deceiving their wives into friendship, and tormenting her daughter, Frederica.

Stillman is perhaps best known as a filmmaker and screenwriter (Metropolitan, Barcelona, The Last Days of Disco, Damsels in Distress), and for applying the class term urban haute bourgeois to particular set of young Manhattanites in his first film Metropolitan (UHB, just google it), but Love and Friendship blah blah blah Vindicated is actually his second novel. His first, The Last Days of Disco, With Cocktails at Petrossian, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2000.

A film adaptation of Lady Susan, also titled Love and Friendship and starring Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Fry and Chloe Sevigny, is set to release this summer.

But if you’re in the mood for unannotated Austen (oh, perhaps you don’t need your fictional female protagonists made more likeable vindicated), you’re in the right place: Melville House publishes Lady Susan as part of our Art of the Novella series.



Ena Brdjanovic was formerly Director of Digital Media at Melville House.