Love and Friendship: Take Two
I recently wrote a review of the Wilt Stillman adaptation of Jane Austen's Lady Susan. Herein I attempt a review of the novelization of the film.
Love & Friendship: In Which Jane Austen's Lady Susan Vernon Is Entirely Vindicated by Whit Stillman
Ostensibly written by Lady Susan Vernon's nephew by marriage in 1858, this is an attempt to vindicate Lady Susan, who, in the original novella, is the most awful mother and an accomplished flirt. The nephew claims that anonymous spinster maligned his aunt by making up certain situations and dialogues. He attempts to remedy that with his own memories - and fails. The dialogue is terrible. It's stilted and unnatural but in the movie, it's funny! The actors can pull it off and make it seem funny. The narrator is a dreadful, pompous, bore who inserts his very Victorian ideas into the story. While I do feel bad for Lady Susan, being around the same age, it would have been hard for her as a poor widow, to find another husband or some other way to live. In the original novella, she's scheming and callous but according to her nephew, Lady Susan and Alicia had their own language and often shared inside jokes any listener would misunderstand. Riiigghttt...
The story is a bit funny in parts but mostly because I saw the movie so I can picture the actors' facial expressions. I don't think Jane Austen would have written a character so stupid as Sir James Martin. She poked fun at people but not people who are truly intellectually challenged, as Sir James seems to be. Lady Susan still isn't very likable despite her nephews assertions to the contrary and Frederica comes across as kind of Fanny Price-ish.
This is a so-so attempt at fan-fiction and I applaud his attempt to go with a lesser known work. I didn't have high hopes coming into the movie but expected better of the novelization.