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.
I have always loved any works by Jane Austen, so when this book came out about secret letter from Jane I was intrigued. I also confess to be sucked in by the cover, it look like it would be a sweet story.
What I didn’t anticipate was the level intricacy of the story, not only do you get swept up in the history of the letter along with Jane and Cassandras past. But you also get interesting sub characters who lives are indirectly effected by Jane and her family.
I was caught up in the mystery of the letters and the fact that Cassandra never married and how her nieces behaved. It left me smiling by the end of it, there was no dramatic peak or disaster. However, this story didn’t need it, Hornby writing is esquiste. You get caught up in the process and fall infatuated with the oddity that is the Austen world.