Welcome to the Janeite Blog Tour of Love & Friendship by Whit Stillman!
Enter to win one of three hardcover copies of the book below–and visit the rest of the blog tour stops for more chances to win!
About the book
Whit Stillman has taken Austen’s never-finished epistolary novella, Lady Susan, reimagined it as a straight narrative, and added the hilarious new character of Rufus, Susan’s apologist nephew, who aims to clear Susan’s good name come hell or high water (even if he is doing it from “the ignoble abode” of debtors’ prison ). Despite many indications to the contrary, Rufus insists that Susan is, “the kindest, most delightful woman anyone could know, a shining ornament to our Society and Nation.” Rufus then appends his earnest tale with a collection of his aunt’s letters, which he claims have been altered by Austen to cast the estimable Lady Susan in a bad light.
Impossibly beautiful, disarmingly witty, and completely self-absorbed, Lady Susan Vernon, is both the heart and the thorn of Love & Friendship. Recently widowed, with a daughter who’s coming of age as quickly as their funds are dwindling, Lady Susan makes it her mission to find them wealthy husbands——and fast.
But when her attempts to secure their futures result only in the wrath of a prominent conquest’s wife and the title of “most accomplished coquette in England,” Lady Susan must rethink her strategy.
Unannounced, she arrives at her brother-in-law’s country estate. Here she intends to take refuge——in no less than luxury, of course——from the colorful rumors trailing her, while finding another avenue to “I do.” Before the scandalizing gossip can run its course, though, romantic triangles ensue.
With a devoted Austenian sensibility and absurd theological commentary, filmmaker and writer Whit Stillman ingeniously reimagines and completes one of our greatest writers’ unfinished works. As much homage to its muse’s perennial influence as testament to its author’s brilliance, Love & Friendship is a sharp comedy of manners, and a fiendishly funny treat for Austen and Stillman fans alike.
Love & Friendship brings a healthy helping of scandal, along with lots of laughs, to Georgian and Victorian London. Whit Stillman has also created a film version of Love & Friendship, starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, opens in select theaters on May 13th.
Review, by Kelly Ferjutz
Lest you think that ‘snark’ is a creation of the late 20th Century, I bid you take notice of the creations by the famed Spinster Authoress (otherwise known as a Lady) who actually created the art form in the very late 18th Century. Her name shall not pass my lips at this point.
No, we shall stay firmly in the early-middle 19th Century, where we were first privileged to become acquainted with Lady Susan Vernon, and her illustrious relations. Sad to say, there is no Mr. Darcy in this book to provide material for dreams by the countless young misses who will have to learn to live without him. However, all is not entirely lost, as we may yet come close, in the personage of the young Rufus Martin-Colonna de Cesari-Rocca, Lady Susan’s nephew.
This young gentleman is quite the stickler for enlarging the vocabulary of the reader of his chronicle, as is evidenced by the multitudinous footnotes to be found throughout the book, in which he explains not only the origin of such words, but also their purpose, should we readers be otherwise entirely too stupid to have figured out all of this by our very lonesomes.
And then, too, there is also the ‘after-the-fact’ re-interpretation of known facts, but – I am sorry, I digress.
Methinks, however, now that I have successfully navigated my pathway through both portions of this involving tale, that you, gentle reader, might better begin by first reading the latter portion – that of the Spinster Authoress herself – before reading the newer version, written as it is, by a male personage. It will perhaps help to place the characters more firmly in your mind. Or not.
Considering that the beginning portion was notated, as I say, by a male, while the latter was by the Spinster Authoress herself, the reader is quite struck by the amount of ‘he said’ vs. ‘she said’ or indeed, as it were, it boils down to a battle of the sexes, with unfortunately, no allowance for her rebuttals, which tactic he utilizes to good effect, and which are indeed, heavily laden with the above-mentioned ‘snark’.
Of course, as neither portion was ever published previously to this particular version, it is well to remember that it is all in the realm of ‘hear-say’ and is thus not considered acceptable to a court of law. For that, we should all be most grateful.
That said, there is indeed some value in reading the entire volume; the definitions of older, archaic words, as illustrated in the voluminous foot-notes, as mentioned above, are well worth the time and trouble of pursuing them further. As to the latter portion? I think it quite permissible to state that the prose contained therein will be discovered to be remarkably more lyrical than that which preceded it.
Despisefy, indeed! It does, however, imply a ‘certain’ something, doesn’t it?
First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Little, Brown & Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.
Grand Giveaway Contest
In celebration of the release of Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated, Mr. Stillman’s publisher, Little, Brown & Co has kindly offered a chance to win one of three hardcover copies of the book!
To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on the The Love & Friendship Janeite Blog Tour starting June 13, 2016 through 11:59 pm PT, June 30, 2016. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Austenprose on July 1, 2016. Winners have until July 07, 2016 to claim their prize. Shipment is to US addresses. Good luck to all!