Jane Austen's cougar story


Lady Susan is one of Jane Austen's less well known characters (and book by the same name). And that's a pity for, while Lady Susan is scheming and selfish, chasing younger men and flirting with married ones, we readers are fascinated by her antics. She manipulates everyone to suit her own ends, including her daughter, Frederica. I was interested in Susan but even more by the quiet Frederica who is only reported as 'having run away from school'. The girl must have spirit....

When Chawton House Library held a 2014 competition for short stories inspired by Jane Austen, I realised that here was the opportunity to give voice to Frederica! In the book Lady Susan, the characters communicate only via letters. As my story was set in 2014, Frederica and her best friend Amelia use modern methods - Facebook, email, mobile phone, Twitter and Snapchat. It is through these modes of communication that we hear how Frederica, learning from the best, gets her mother to do what she wants in the end.

I won the competition which was a great thrill. The Wedding Planner was published in the anthology, Beguiling Miss Bennet. It was launched at Chawton House Library, a home owned by Jane's brother Edward on 22 September 2015. I was given a treasured feather quill brooch as a Chawton gift.

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