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Miss Austen

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  291 ratings  ·  133 reviews
A wonderfully original, emotionally complex ‘reading-group’ novel that delves into why Cassandra burned a treasure trove of letters written by her sister, Jane Austen – an act of destruction that has troubled academics for centuries.

It’s 1840, twenty-three years after the death of her famous sister Jane, and Cassandra Austen – alone and unwed – returns to the vicarage in
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 23rd 2020 by Century
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  291 ratings  ·  133 reviews

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Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
A fictionalized story about Cassandra Austen and her insight into Jane's life. This book was a highly enjoyable Saturday read. I devoured it. A lovely historical piece the writing flowed and had a wonderful story line. Highly recommended for those that l0ve Jane Austen
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This historical novel looks at the life of ‘Miss Austen,’ but not, perhaps, the one you expect. For the title character is Cassandra Austen, sister of Jane, and protector of her legacy. It is March, 1840, and a, now elderly Cassandra, returns to Kintbury, the previous home of the man she was once betrothed to. Now it is a poor shadow of the previous family home of the Fowle family and only inhabited by spinster daughter, Isabella, who is packing up the family belongings, and a few servants.

Louise Wilson
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cassandra, the central character in this novel, is Jane Austen's beloved sister. Cassandra, now that she's getting older is concerned that the letters that were shared among the family will fall into the wrong hands and destroy Jane's reputation. We learn of the loyalty these sisters had for each other and the loss of Cassandra's fiancé. It's a fictitious look into what led Cassandra to burn two thirds of her sisters letters and tries to peruse her sisters reputation.

Cassandra thought she was
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
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
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
Judy Lesley
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me MISS AUSTEN was a charming, enjoyable reading experience. I like the idea that the story features Cassandra and takes place some years after the death of her beloved sister Jane. This fictionalized version of events allows author Gill Hornby to present her own stamp of imagination on this pair of fictional characters who are so familiar to me. I've read quite a bit of factual and fictional information regarding these two well known women and am pleased to say I was well satisfied with ...more
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
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
Natalie Jenner
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Netgalley, for a copy for review! I found this book in retrospect a bit of a chill, teatime read - perhaps in light of the subject? In any case, this was a very slow read for me, and I'm not sure what I expected, but I was a bit disappointed.

Alternating between the present (1840), older Cassandra, and the past via letters and flashbacks, there is at least a tad of urgency added to the plot by these means, but this is otherwise a book very reminiscent of Austen's own prose, syntax and
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
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
This book is in a class by itself when it comes to Jane Austen-related fiction. Far more than the ubiquitous Regency fan-fic full of meet-cutes and enjoyable enough fluff, this work sits neatly on the line between biography and fiction. It is a thoughtful, well-written reflection upon Jane Austen's closest friend, her sister Cassandra. Cassandra and Jane are both somewhat shrouded in mystery: there is just so much that we can't know. Which is the very point of this book. It deals with themes of ...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
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Goodreads for the ARC giveaway!

I absolutely loved this book. I'm a huge Jane Austen fan, but this story was so immersive into her world that it read like a novel despite having a significant factual base. Miss Austen follows the life of Cassandra Austen, Jane's older sister and best friend, and jumps between her time with Jane before she passed away and her life as an older woman nearing the end. Cassandra is looking for letters Jane sent to some old friends to make sure Jane's life
Theresa Smith
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Happy endings are there for us somewhere, woven into the mix of life’s fabric. We just have to search the detail, follow the pattern, to find the one that should be our own.’

Despite having read and loved Jane Austen’s novels for decades now, I’ve never taken it upon myself to find out anything about her, so the literary mystery that this novel is inspired by was entirely new to me. Partially narrated by Cassandra Austen, Jane’s beloved sister, and partially epistolary, Miss Austen is a
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This charming novel centres around Cassandra Austen, sister to the more famous Jane, who in later life tries to recover Jane's correspondence in order to destroy the letters. Her goal is to preserve her sister's image and control what information is passed into the public domain. The narrative moves back and forth in time as we learn more of what happened to the sisters and the Austen family and their circle. I loved the writing, the story and Cassandra and found myself captivated from start to ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley.

This isn't about the Miss Austen we are most familiar with. It's about Cassandra Austen, sister of Jane, and is set over two separate periods of time. We see her at home with her sister and parents, exploring what happened in her own life up to the sad death of Jane. We also get a look at many years later when Cassandra is aging and follow her efforts to retrieve letters sent by Jane.

We know that Cassandra
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Her purpose in coming to Kintbury had been to remove all that might reflect badly upon Jane or the legacy: that was the brief she had given herself.’

I love all things Austen. So it was with great interest that a story has been written about her sister, Cassandra. With the spotlight always on the talented Jane, it was refreshing to come across a tale from a differing perspective. There was always much controversy as to why Cassandra in her later years, destroyed all letters and correspondence
Haley Renee The Caffeinated Reader

This book was deeply moving, the look at sisterhood and family was perfection especially in regards to the family Hornby is writing of. The Austens. A family quite close to each other and within that closeness an even deeper bond between Cassandra and Jane. She takes a bit of a mystery angle in this, trying to give us answers in the gaps Cassandra has left by culling certain correspondences with/regarding Jane. She was the gatekeeper and that is the role
Chandra Cox
*Disclaimer: I received a copy of Miss Austen by Gill Hornby from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review*

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby is a highly anticipated book and with good reason. The author takes on the perspective and story of Cassandra Austen, a sister of the famous Jane Austen, and derives a tale of their presumes lives. The premise is there, the story could have gone anywhere, and yet it just didn't quite live up to my standards and hope. Ultimately the book was a bit of a let-down.
Kristin Davison
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
I would like to thank netgalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

This book follows the later life of Cassandra Austen, the beloved older sister to Jane. Cassandra is on a mission to control which of Jane's letters are left behind and to destroy any that may damage her reputation. As she reads the letters, events unfold in the present along with flashbacks.

Hornby does a good job of imagining the contents of letters we don't have and of
Anna Louise
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
Review to come.
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
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
For whoever looked at an elderly lady and saw the young heroine she once was?~from Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

I am old. I am older than my mother and her brothers and two grandfathers were when they died. I am two aunts away from being the eldest on my mother's side of the family, and an aunt and a cousin away from being the eldest on my father's side. I have become a living keeper of memories of times that predate most of my family's birth.

I am also the family genealogist, a role inherited from
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
Michelle Garrett
"Miss Austen" by Gill Hornby was such a lovely story. I've read a lot about Jane Austen's life and family, but I still learned more from this book, especially about the extended family that was so focused on in this story. While it was fictionalized, a lot about the story was based on true life events and a lot of it felt believable, including the letters written in Jane Austen's voice. That's an impressive feat in and of itself. I enjoyed the feminist viewpoint that a woman, even in the early ...more
Michelle Kidwell

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
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