Miss Austen

Flatiron: Macmillan. Apr. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781250252203. $26.99. F
The well-known friendship and bonds of loyalty between Jane Austen and her older sister Cassandra are celebrated and explored in this novel by Hornby (All Together Now). Beyond her fierce devotion to Jane and the loss of her fiancé Tom Fowle, who had been her father’s curate, little is known of Cassandra’s life. We begin with Cassandra in her 60s, having dedicated herself to preserving her sister’s reputation, two decades after Jane’s death. Cassandra visits the home of the Fowle family of Kintbury—Tom’s family. The house is being cleared for a new vicar, so Cassandra is determined to retrieve old letters between herself and Jane and their friend Eliza Lloyd Fowle. She must work around the distressed last daughter of the household, who’s now charged with clearing it, and her watchful maid. Cassandra had expected to settle here with Tom once they were married, so between her memories of happier times and the rereading of many letters, she recalls the most poignant events of her life.
VERDICT For readers who enjoy Austen’s novels and wish to know more about her life and for those seeking excellent English historical fiction.
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