A Jane Austen Prequel

Fiction - General
264 Pages
Reviewed on 10/08/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

A lifelong Austen fanatic, I just got interested in what Austen's charming but manipulative Lady Susan might have been like, when just sixteen...

Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel is now an audiobook!!!!
Winner: Gold Medal at Global Book Awards (historical)
Awarded medallion at IndieReader!!
Bestseller in 3 categories, including Classica Historical Fiction!!
Just longlisted for Goethe Prize (Chanticleer)!!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel by Alice McVeigh grants a fresh look at some of the characters of Jane Austen novels in their earlier years. Recently expelled from Mrs. Ansruther's school, sixteen-year-old Susan Smithson returns to London, only to find herself embroiled in yet another scandal. After vehemently rejecting a marriage proposal made by an older gentleman named Mr. Hawthorne, Susan places herself under the tutelage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who accompanies her when she is sent to live in Kent County with her relatives. Reunited with her favorite cousin Alicia Collins, Susan inadvertently becomes the center of attention again when she joins Mrs. Inchbald's play. In the meantime, Alicia's blossoming romance with the Johnson family heir, Henry, threatens to create a major scandal.

Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel is a delightful rendition of Susan Smithson's earlier years that is bound to entertain fans of Jane Austen novels. Alice McVeigh's book is filled with romance, mischief, gossip, and drama that makes you breeze past the pages with absolute relish. I found the characters colorful and thoroughly entertaining. The dialogue is witty and laced with humor. Alice McVeigh writes with a flow and eloquence that makes the narrative as smooth as melted butter, and it perfectly captures the era that the book is set in. Susan's inner thoughts and her scheming with Alicia were some of my favorite aspects of the book. I had a wonderful time reading Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel. I will recommend it to readers who love books set in this era.

Romuald Dzemo

Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel by Alice McVeigh is a historical novel with a great plot and fascinating characters. Sixteen-year-old Susan Smithson is expelled from school unexpectedly. Susan knew that she was going to eventually leave the London school for young girls, but not in the unexpected and disgraceful manner in which Mrs. Ansruther is sending her away. Now at Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s home, she attracts the interest of a dashing young nobleman, but her guardian does not hesitate to send her to Kent upon a small provocation. Everything changes in a sleepy town when Frank Churchill arrives. Follow these characters as they evolve through family drama, adventure, and love.

This is an intelligently plotted and expertly written novel. Alice McVeigh has a strong gift for character and she writes characters with flaws that make them believable. The author introduces readers to Susan immediately and to a premise that sparks off the drama. She is a poor but intelligent, artistic, and capricious young woman who gets expelled from school after a scandal. The author explores the inner world of the characters brilliantly and writes dialogues that are captivating. There is a nobility in language that reflects the historical setting of the story. Apart from the protagonist, characters like Alicia and Frank Churchill are cleverly written and compelling. Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel is a propulsive historical drama with characters that fans of Jane Austen will adore and a setting that transports readers to an historical moment, unveiling social mores and values that are peculiar to the time.

Ruffina Oserio

Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel by Alice McVeigh is a character-driven historical novel that follows sixteen-year-old Susan Smithson after she is unexpectedly expelled from school for being involved in a scandal. As a poor girl who has also suffered a great loss, she is uncertain about what life at the home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh has in store for her. The excitement of capturing the heart of a young nobleman is short-lived as Lady Catherine sends her off to Kent, a place that seems bereft of activity and even life until Frank Churchill arrives. Everything changes with prospects of love for Alicia and a lot of adventure for the wily, beguiling Susan, who always seems to have something up her sleeve.

Alice McVeigh creates a perfect portrait of a historical period that readers will be fascinated to read. From the language that reflects the manner of speech of the time to characters that are intriguing, the author recreates a spellbinding drama, exploring social status among the nobility and a young woman’s struggle to fit in. The fully-blown characters are written with ingenuity and the author is meticulous in the way she writes about Susan. The prose is gorgeous and the descriptions are vivid; the deft exploration of the emotions and psychological state of the characters augments the entertaining potential of this story. Alice McVeigh’s gift for creating conflict is evidenced in this novel and it will be fun to follow the characters, especially Susan as she deals with strong emotional urges. Alice McVeigh is a first-rate historical fiction writer, and her attention to detail, time, and period is commendable. Susan: A Jane Austen Prequel is a balanced and skillfully delivered historical novel.