Friday, March 27, 2020

Review: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

Title: Miss Austen
Author: Gill Hornby
Published: April 2020, Flatiron Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 288 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

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 fiancĂ©, 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.

My thoughts: I was excited to read this book and even though it is not centered primarily about Jane Austen, I still enjoyed it very much. It was the perfect book to sit down with along with a nice cup of tea and lose myself in during this crazy time right now.

This book centers around Cassandra Austen, Jane's sister, and I have to admit I do not know much about Jane Austen's personal life so I found this book to be quite fascinating. Even though the book is a work of fiction, it is based on true events and it does have me yearning to know more about the Austen family as a whole, which I love.

Cassandra and Jane were the best of friends and I can very much relate to that kind of sibling relationship as I have that with my sisters. Now that Cassandra is close to the end of her days, she is determined to find any letters written to or from Jane to close friends that may damage Jane's reputation. She feels it is her duty to her sister and her family to do so. As she finds these letters, she is swept up in the memories and this allows the book to move from the present to the past.

I loved the way this story was told. It completely swept me up in the Austen sisters' lives and I felt as if I were right there along with them. It was interesting to learn a bit about Jane as she was writing her stories - I did not know that some of her books had different names before they became what we now know them as. I found myself completely in awe of Cassandra - she was dealt a tough hand early in life and ended up spending the rest of her life caring for those around her. This was by choice, but it didn't necessarily have to be this way. I did not, though, agree with her decision to burn the letters once she found them...oh how this angered me.

This was a great book to learn a bit more about not only Jane Austen as a person, but also her sister, who was so near and dear to her. It is well researched and quite enjoyable, and has left me with a hankering to reread some of my beloved Jane Austen books. I highly recommend this to all fans of Jane won't be disappointed. 



  1. This sounds lovely, thanks for sharing your thoughts

  2. Oh I'm so glad to see you enjoyed this one! I've got it coming up on my reading list and it looks like it lives up to my expectations!


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