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Does Love & Friendship improve Jane Austen’s ending?
Now, with his new film Love and Friendship , out next week, he gives us his version of a story by Austen, though one that is little known. He has adapted a novella — or, more accurately, a sharply curtailed novel — called Lady Susan , which Austen probably wrote in the mids, when she was 19 or Neither of these tales was published in her lifetime, and neither was intended for publication. Lady Susan promises much. The eponymous leading character is intelligent, accomplished and utterly amoral. Lady Susan is a beautiful widow in her mids who gets her kicks from flirtation and psychological manipulation. At the beginning of the book we find her entertaining herself by causing emotional mayhem in a household in which she is a guest.
Far more of a free spirit with a more unconventional personality than anyone else around, Susan shows up unannounced at her brother-in-law's estate and intends to stay — at least until she can find a husband for her daughter and a new one for herself while she's at it. With its focus on a woman who defies categorization and rebels against a system meant to hold her down, many are hoping that Love and Friendship is based on a true story. So is it? Unfortunately, no, Love and Friendship is not based on any real tale. It does however, come from the next best place.
Love and Freindship [ sic ] is a juvenile story by Jane Austen , dated From the age of eleven until she was eighteen, Austen wrote her tales in three notebooks. These still exist, one in the Bodleian Library and the other two in the British Museum. They contain, among other works, Love and Freindship , written when she was fourteen, and The History of England , written when she was fifteen. Written in epistolary form like her later unpublished novella, Lady Susan , Love and Friendship is thought to be one of the tales she wrote for the amusement of her family. The instalments, written as letters from the heroine Laura, to Marianne, the daughter of her friend Isabel, may have come about as nightly readings by the young Jane in the Austen home. Love and Freindship the misspelling is one of many in the story is clearly a parody of romantic novels Austen read as a child.
Each hour-long show, improvised from scratch based on a title suggested by the audience only seconds before, purports to be one of these lost masterworks. Stillman has always specialised in pointed comedies of manners that are Austenian or Jamesian in essence: Metropolitan , Barcelona , The Last Days of Disco and Damsels in Distress explored love and etiquette with an archness that made them resemble period pieces in modern dress. In , he also made a promising Amazon pilot, The Cosmopolitans ; more episodes are in the offing. No wonder the dialogue and romantic imbroglios of Austen fit him so well. But the pleasures extend in every direction — even the one-line biographies with which each character is introduced are hilarious.