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Miss Austen: A Novel

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  46 ratings  ·  37 reviews
"A deeply imagined and deeply moving novel. Reading it made me happy and weepy in equally copious amounts.” —Karen Joy Fowler

For fans of Jo Baker’s Longbourn, a witty, poignant novel about Cassandra Austen and her famous sister, Jane.

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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by Flatiron Books (first published January 23rd 2020)
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  • Miss Austen by Gill Hornby
    Miss Austen: A Novel
    Release date: Apr 07, 2020
    For fans of Jo Baker’s Longbourn, a witty, poignant novel about Cassandra Austen and her famous sister, Jane.

    Whoever looked at an elderly lady and saw

    Format: Print book

    Giveaway ends in: a

    Availability: 100 copies available, 1616 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Dec 05 - Dec 16, 2019

    Countries available: U.S.

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    Average rating 3.89  · 
    Rating details
     ·  46 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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    Roman Clodia
    Oh dear, I feel like I read a different book from all those enraptured reviewers in the blurb. I like the idea of writing Cassandra Austen's story, but actually found this a pale, and rather thinly-imagined homage to the Austen sisters. None of the characters really have much, er, character - not even Jane, and by the time I got to the end, I was still waiting for the story to start.

    Hornby has mingled attention to the real biographies and letters with something imagined - yes, there's a kind
    Girl with her Head in a Book
    For my full review:

    When I spotted this book's title, I assumed that it was another novelisation of Jane Austen's life. Like most people, when I hear the words 'Miss Austen', my immediate thought is of the author ofPride and Prejudice. It is so easy to forget that while Jane Austen was alive, she wasnotMiss Austen. That title belonged to her elder sister Cassandra. So many pages and pages have been wasted on whether or not Jane Austen ever knew love, who
    Natalie Jenner
    Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I was very lucky to receive an ARC of this much-anticipated novel by Gill Hornby. MISS AUSTEN is a moving and extremely well-researched fictional exploration of the moral consciousness and mental landscape of Cassandra Austen, the sister of Jane Austen and keeper of her legacy. With clear and emotionally effective prose, Hornby shows us how critical events in the lives of both Jane and Cassandra informed their decisions as well as the writing of Austen's great works. Hornby also deftly brings to ...more
    History has often wondered why Cassandra Austen burned much of the personal correspondence between herself and her famous sister, Jane. Gill Hornby has imagined the story that Cassandra was determined not to share with the world. Inhabiting their lives and discovering their secrets was a joy from the prologue to the author's note. Rich in historical detail, family lore, and all-heart, Miss Austen will wow Janeites and enchant the uninitiated, who will never look at Jane Austen's life in the same ...more
    Kathleen Flynn
    I am always happy to have an excuse to spend more time thinking about the amazing Jane Austen and her family, which seems from all the evidence we've got to have been also remarkable. "Miss Austen" sensitively imagines what Cassandra's life might have been in the years Jane Austen's biographers generally don't spend too much time on -- those nearly 30 years she lived on without her beloved sister.

    The picture of Jane here was interesting and might dismay some who want to see her as perfection
    Nov 19, 2019 rated it liked it
    Kintbury, 1840. Cassandra Austen arrives unannounced at a vicarage where the Fowles had lived for three generations. Isabella’s father has just passed away. Now, she has two month to vacate the house for the next incumbent.

    Why Cassandra arrives in such hurry? With the slow moving story, it seems as it takes quite some time to find out. Eliza, Isabella’s mother, was Cassandra’s dear friend. Both sisters, Cassandra and Jane, wrote many intimate letters to Eliza and they could still be here. As
    Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

    It is impossible to describe this book. While it is largely set in a country village it does not involve 3 or 4 families. There are no rogues, no villains, no real high plot points, just a gentle story about 19th-century spinsters who were devoted to their families in different ways. The story opens in 1840 when Jane Austen's sister Cassandra, now in her 60s and frail, travels on her own, unannounced
    Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition

    If you love Jane Austen, but already read all of her works a few times and are always a little disappointed with the "fan fiction" from various authors, you will not be disappointed with this one!
    The protagonist is Jane's beloved older sister, Cassandra. It is a fictional account of her later years, after Jane is long dead, when visiting extended family members and helping to clean out their house after a death, Cassandra finds a huge stack of letters written by Jane and other family members and
    Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

    The title of Miss Austen immediately brings to mind Jane Austen: an author who is a favourite of millions (including myself). Conversely however, Gill Hornby’s novel centres around Cassandra Austen: Jane's elder sister and therefore, in Regency circles, the correct owner of the title.

    We meet Cassandra Austen as an elderly lady, travelling to help a family member who has recently lost her father. As Isabella is unmarried, she must vacate her childhood home of the local
    Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Why do we know so little about Jane Austen? We know she was a prodigious writer of letters, but we also know that her older sister, Cassandra, destroyed them. "Miss Austen" imagines why that might be.

    The first part of the novel is charming, with a jolt of great sadness when Cassandra's fiance dies in the West Indies, leaving her future uncertain. More than perhaps any other I've read, this novel brings home the frightening situations of unmarried woman who cannot work and have no money of their
    Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Miss Austen by Gill Hornby is a delightful jaunt into the world of Jane Austen and her family told through this historical fiction novel.

    The author takes what little we know in regards to the correspondence between Jane and her sister Cassandra, and weaves a lovely tail imagined of the interactions and love felt between sisters, family, and friends.

    I love anything Jane Austen, and I was not disappointed in getting insight from a different angle into Jane’s life through her sister.


    Peggy Jaeger
    Nov 26, 2019 rated it liked it
    An enjoyable tale told from the perspective of Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra. Party mystery, part love story and part women’s fiction, this story takes historical fiction to a new level and delivers a story of sisterly – and family – love, perfectly.

    Thankyou to Netgalley for a sneak peak
    Oct 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Gill Hornby’s portrayal of Cassandra Austen, Jane’s devoted older sister, has been well researched and spans her adult life, from her courtship by Tom Fowle who dies before they can marry, to her life as an elderly spinster, determined to rescue Jane’s private letters from a wider audience. Anyone with a passing interest in the life of Jane Austen knows part of this story and Hornby fills in the gaps through her depiction of members of the Austen’s extended family, bringing to life vividly the ...more
    Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    As a committed Janeite I was thrilled to receive an ARC of this book and I was not disappointed. There are not enough words to really describe how much I loved this. I usually shy away from Jane Austen based fiction as it always, at least to me, seems to miss the mark.
    Not so this excellent book.
    “Miss Austen” is told through the the eyes of Cassandra Austen, “Miss Austen” indeed, and it alternates, through Janes reimagined missing letters between the past and present. It begins with Toms
    Dec 09, 2019 rated it liked it
    "He closed the garden door behind her and gestured toward the Elm Walk. She pulled her shawl close and drank a deep draft of the new, green air. The year was 1795, and the day seemed to assume itself to be the first of that spring." ~ "Miss Austen"

    Finally a novel about Cassandra Austen! While I love Jane, I've always wanted to know more about Cassandra's life. Jane overshadows her sister in history, even though ironically it was Cassandra who took great pains to preserve her sister's memory.
    Sigrid A
    Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
    Gill Hornby's Miss Austen gives us the story of Jane Austen's life from her sister Cassandra's point of view. The premise is that Cassandra (Cassy here. Was Cassandra Austen ever referred to in this way? I can't remember ever coming across that before.) goes to stay with the family of her own dead fiancé in search of letters from Jane that might be too revealing. (It's a complicated premise, and the family tree is hard to keep track of, despite a guide at the beginning of the book.) We know that ...more
    Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: netgalley
    It wasn’t until reading this book that I realised how little I knew of Jane Austen’s family circumstances. I knew about her father dying unexpectedly, leaving Jane, her mother and sister without a permanent home and I knew about the wealthy brother Edward who provided them with a cottage on his estate but that was the extent of my knowledge. So I found the story told in this novel fascinating, especially the way Cassandra is portrayed. She is obliged to tread a careful, tactful route towards ...more
    Michelle Kidwell
    Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing

    Miss Austen
    A Novel

    by Gill Hornby
    Flatiron Books
    Historical Fiction
    Pub Date 07 Apr 2020

    I am reviewing a copy of Miss Austen through Flatiron Books and Netgalley:

    By 1840 Cassandra Austen, Jane Austen’s sister lives alone spending her days visiting friends and relatives, while working purposely to preserve her sisters reputation. By now Jane has been gone for two decades and Cassandra is in her sixties, and is going increasingly frail so Cassandra goes to say with the Frowles of Kintbury the family
    Bethany Swafford
    Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: kindle
    Since her sister's death, Cassandra Austen has quietly and persistently done her best to preserve the reputation of Jane Austen. Despite the weariness of age, she travels to the home of her friends in search of letters her sister had written. In doing so, memories come to mind when Cassandra was the heroine of her own story.

    This was an enjoyable read. It was interesting following Cassandra as she does her best to unobtrusively find letters in the home of her long-dead fiance. The story bounces
    Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I was slightly reluctant to request Miss Austin to read and review. But as a Jane Austin fan I simply can’t resist any book connected to her, This means that I am so often disappointed. Miss Austin was anything but disappointing however. It is delightful., engaging and beautifully written.

    Miss Austin is Jane’s sister Cassandra. She is getting old and wants to ensure that there are no letters in her extended family that might impact on her sisters reputation in the future. The story is
    Nov 27, 2019 rated it liked it
    As she is one of the most famous writers for whom we have rather limited first hand knowledge, the thirst to imagine and invent what we don’t know is understandable. Here Gill Hornby takes the event of Cassandra Austen destroying some of her sister’s correspondence to wonder - in fiction - what they might have held and why they weren’t allowed to remain.

    Written in an Austen style the story goes back and forth from their early twenties to a number of years after her death.

    I can see the appeal of
    Andrea Hicks
    Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Thank you to Gill Hornby, Random House and NetGalley for my ARC of Miss Austen.
    Such a charming and witty novel referencing and sometimes written in the style of Jane Austen.
    Jane's sister, Cassie, (Cassandra) who outlived her, travels to the old parsonage to retrieve letters written by Jane to herself and Lizzie to prevent them from getting into the wrong hands. She is given a room in the parsonage by Isabella, Cassie's niece who is preparing to leave after her father's death. Cassie is now an
    Michael Cayley
    Nov 28, 2019 rated it liked it
    A novel in which an ageing Cassandra, sister of Jane Austen, tracks down a cache of Jane’s letters which not only bring back her own past but also make her confront aspects of her sister’s life that could damage Jane’s reputation.

    This had the potential for a very good novel, examining why (as happened in real life) Cassandra destroyed a stack of her sister’s letters. Alas, for me the novel fell short. I found the story uninteresting and the characterisation fairly humdrum. I was never drawn in.

    Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    A very sweet and readable imagining of Jane Austen's sister Cassandra, as she tries to protect Jane's reputation by rescuing personal correspondence from potential exploitation.

    The story switches between the present, with Cassandra as an elderly spinster, and - through the letters - back into the romance of their youth where Jane was still struggling to publish her novels.

    I enjoyed this a lot - a dramatization based around some historical facts, with some powerful characters - plenty to love and
    Anne Whiting
    Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Well, this was totally different than I expected but I loved it.

    I got so involved with the characters, lovely Cassandra who tried to help everyone, Jane who had her own issues, as well as the parents, brothers, wives etc. I was so sorry that Cassandra wasn't in the end able to be married, she would have made a wonderful wife and mother.

    Of course all the time you're reading, you have to remember that these are real people who actually lived and experienced the things Gill Hornby wrote about.

    Alison Pearse-Davis
    I am a big fan of Jane Austen & was looking forward to reading this book.. I was not disappointed.

    It is written very much in her style, a mixture of humour & keen eye for detail. There is both a keen wit & pathos. Gill Hornsby has clearly done her research well. It gives a fascinating insight into the lives of Jane Austen & her family & friends.

    If you are a Jane Austen this is a must read
    Lorri Steinbacher
    Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Captures the uncertainty that comes with being an unmarried woman in a time when the only way for a woman to improve her circumstances was through marriage. Also captures the critical importance of the bonds between sisters who could cobble together a household and keep themselves out of the role of spinster-aunt in a brother's house.

    Recommended for historical fiction fans.
    Jess Probert
    Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
    This was so charming!
    Having just studied Pride and Prejudice in a university class I was eager to dive into some background. This book feels like an old friend and I'm so happy to have received an ARC from NetGalley.
    Cassandra was full of humour and love, and I felt the thought that went into each character.
    A great read to start off the summer with :)
    Sara Jo
    Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
    Shelves: netgalley
    I tried to like this story but I could not get interested in Cassandra at all. The time hops were annoying and neither time period was very interesting. It’s all sort of plodded along, more like a faint idea of a story that was never brought to fruition and just wanted to hop on the Austen bandwagon.

    I was provided with an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
    Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Cassandra is the sister to Jane Austen.

    As she ages, Cassandra is concerned that letters that was shared amongst their family may fall into the wrong hands and will thus damage the reputation of Jane.

    This was a great book and I learned so much more about the life of the Austen's .
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