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Book Review: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

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It is unfathomable to think of a world where Jane Austen and her literary works do not exist, yet there is precious little information about her life. This is why this novel is so special in my opinion, allowing the reader to glimpse into the authoress’s family life, especially her tie with her older sister Cassandra Austen. Miss Austen is a beautiful and refreshing exploration of Jane and Cassandra’s incredibly close bond and the secrets that they shared.

This novel starts many years after Jane’s death and follows an elderly Cassandra as she imposes herself on her weary relatives to retrieve a cache of family letters containing secret. Secrets that she is adamant should never see the light of day with the intent to burn them before she dies.  This act is actually true and is a literary mystery that has puzzled academics and biographers alike for many years. Many of them asking why did Cassandra Austen would destroy these prized letters? Letters that could have allowed more insight into the mind of one of the world’s most famous writers.

Available now on Amazon: click here

Through these letters, Cassandra is transported back to her youth and remembers a time where she was not seen as an aging spinster whose livelihood depends off the back of generous brothers, but a young woman who felt heartache, felt desired and had the fiercest protectiveness for her dearly beloved sister. What I loved most about this novel, with similarities to Austen’s own work, was that Hornby has created a comical and warm-hearted story that I believe portrays the Austen family handsomely. I could not stop smiling as I sped through its pages, the character of Cassandra was full of life, witty and loyal. I especially enjoyed the narrative, how it effortlessly went from the current time frame to the past via letters. It gave the reader an insight into Jane’s personality (in my eyes I viewed her very similarly to Elizabeth Bennett) which I have not seen so well done before in other literary works.

“Put simply, this is a wonderful historical fiction novel that will allows you to feel closer to Jane and understand the woman behind the words.” Grace Collins

Hornby portrayed Cassandra and Jane’s relationship as if she were describing someone’s true love. Their relationship out shines any other relationship that Cassandra had encountered with the opposite sex, thus proving that her love for her sister was greater than anything. This depiction of sisterhood, allows the reader to see why Cassandra wanted to destroy those letters, believing that they would damage her sister’s memory and all the work that she created.

We rate it: 4/5

Miss Austen is available on Amazon. Click here to view now.

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Reviewed by Grace Collins

Hi, I’m Grace, a twenty-something gal based in South Wales with my two cats. You can always find me with my head stuck in a book! Follow my Instagram page @thecwtchbookclub for more recommendations and reviews.

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