Tracy's Reviews > Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen's Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated

Love & Friendship by Whit Stillman
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it was amazing

Who better to capture Austen’s witty social commentary than filmmaker and writer Whit Stillman? His first film, Metropolitan, was one of my favorites from the 1990s, but I confess that I didn’t catch its similarities to Mansfield Park until many years later. Now Stillman has written a companion piece to his latest film Love & Friendship in straight narrative form. He introduces a new character to the story: Rufus Martin-Colonna de Cesari-Rocca, Lady Susan’s nephew. Rufus has penned his “true narrative of false-witness” to expose Austen’s supposed hatchet job on his aunt. His loyalties are made clear with the novel’s subtitle, “In Which Jane Austen’s Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated (Concerning the Beautiful Lady Susan Vernon, Her Cunning Daughter & the Strange Antagonism of the DeCourcy Family).”

Readers familiar with Austen’s Lady Susan will notice an inversion of good and evil from the outset. Rufus has dedicated his novel to none other than the Prince of Wales, mimicking Austen’s dedication of Emma to the Prince Regent, but in a much more effusively toad-eating style. After two knowing winks from Stillman in two pages: consider yourself warned. Rufus is the quintessential unreliable narrator, writing his rebuttal of Austen’s version of events from debtors prison in Clerkenwell in 1858. The vindication of his maligned aunt, riddled with inconsistencies and bizarre logic, is peppered with tirades on a range of subjects: history, theology, and grammar. These make for some of the funniest passages in the novel.

Since many movie tie-ins offer little more than a printed version of the screenplay, Love & Friendship surprised and entertained me. Stillman’s playfully Austenesque sensibility delivers an imaginative interpretation of the story that Austen abandoned “to the great detriment of the Post office Revenue.” (273) His clever tribute to the original Lady Susan showcases tongue-in-cheek humor perfectly suited to this comedy of manners.
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Note: I received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Reading Progress

May 19, 2016 – Started Reading
May 19, 2016 – Shelved
May 19, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
May 19, 2016 –
page 15
5.21% "Once a man gets his name on a Banking House, he rolls in money."
May 19, 2016 –
page 27
9.38% "Yet I must confess that there's a certain pleasure in making a person, pre-determined to dislike, instead acknowledge one's superiority..."
June 17, 2016 – Finished Reading

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