Title: Miss Austen
Author: Gill Hornby
Expected Release Date: January 23, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Whoever looked at an elderly lady and saw the young heroine she once was?
England, 1840. For the two decades following the death of her beloved sister, Jane, Cassandra Austen has lived alone, spending her days visiting friends and relations and quietly, purposefully working to preserve her sister’s reputation. Now in her sixties and increasingly frail, Cassandra goes to stay with the Fowles of Kintbury, family of her long-dead fiancé, in search of a trove of Jane’s letters. Dodging her hostess and a meddlesome housemaid, Cassandra eventually hunts down the letters and confronts the secrets they hold, secrets not only about Jane but about Cassandra herself. Will Cassandra bare the most private details of her life to the world, or commit her sister’s legacy to the flames?
Moving back and forth between the vicarage and Cassandra’s vibrant memories of her years with Jane, interwoven with Jane’s brilliantly reimagined lost letters, Miss Austen is the untold story of the most important person in Jane’s life. With extraordinary empathy, emotional complexity, and wit, Gill Hornby finally gives Cassandra her due, bringing to life a woman as captivating as any Austen heroine.
This was my first book for #JaneAustenJuly this year, and it was just what I needed to get me into the Jane Austen mood!
This book doesn’t focus on Jane but rather her sister Cassandra. However, Jane is Cassie’s focus in this story, so she still feels like a central character. This story plays on sort of a dual timeline. Cassie feels she has one goal left for her life, and that’s to obtain all of Jane’s old letters. Cassandra wants to control the narrative of Jane going forward. The other timeline is lived through the letters, but Hornby always takes you beyond the letters into what was happening at the time.
In the end, you’re left with a wider view of Jane Austen’s family with a special look at Jane and her sister, Cassie. But, you’re also given a glimpse into another family that’s closely tied with the Austen’s.
The book was written in such an engaging and intriguing way that I zipped quickly through the whole thing. And it only left me wanting more Jane!
I highly recommend it for historical fiction fans and especially those of you that are fans of Austen!
*Review Note: Please check out trigger warnings elsewhere if you have triggers. I tend to overlook adding them in my reviews.*
Have you read Miss Austen? Are you planning to? Are you participating in #JaneAustenJuly?