Whoever looked at an elderly lady and saw the young heroine she once was?
England, 1840. Two decades after the death of her beloved sister, Jane, Cassandra Austen returns to the village of Kintbury and the home of her family friends, the Fowles. In a dusty corner of the vicarage, there is a cache of Jane’s letters that Cassandra is desperate to find. 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?
I love Jane Austen’s works, so this was a natural choice for me to read. It started off a bit slow—and, honestly, was never what I’d call fast-paced—but that’s fitting for this particular story. The reader is immersed in the lives of Cassandra and Jane as young ladies, but also experiences life with Jane via flashbacks and letters, and also Cassandra’s life as an older, single woman on her own.
This novel is rich in historical detail and will appeal to readers who are Austen fans and want to learn more about their literary heroine’s life. I found Cassandra’s life to be deeply sad—but she’s happy, and that’s what really matters.
Gill Hornby lives in England. Miss Austen is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review.)