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Miss Austen: A Novel

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  2,852 ratings  ·  655 reviews


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 belov
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by Flatiron Books (first published January 23rd 2020)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,852 ratings  ·  655 reviews

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Katie Lumsden
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a beautiful study of grief and the position of women in early 19th century. It was very powerful, and despite a sceptical start, I adored this.
Elyse  Walters
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The minute I held the physical book ( gifted to me), in my hands, warm feelings filled my body.
Most of my reading these days are either ebooks or to audio-books.
Yet, if I go too long not touching, feeling, smelling the pages with the book I’m reading, I feel an empty void for the distinct type of reading pleasure. ....
Gil Hornsby’s hardcopy novel of “Miss Austen” is a beauty....a treasure to spend time with.

It’s highly imagined storytelling, mystery, history, and delicious concoctions were pur
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
Miss Austen is a historical fiction giving insight into the what and why of the letters that Jane Austen's sister Cassandra destroyed, during Cassandra's last years of life. As the story starts, Cassandra drops in suddenly, to stay with Isabel, the relative of her late fiance, as Isabel is packing up her late parents belongings. Cassandra has a secret mission to go through Isabel's mother's letters so that she can remove any letters that Jane wrote that might put Jane's personality and demeanor ...more
Diane Barnes
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is a must for Jane Austen fans. It gives her sister Cassandra her own due, fleshing out what little we know about their lives, and Cassandra's life after Jane's death. The plot hinges on Cassie visiting the family of her long dead fiancee in the hopes of finding letters from Jane that she intended to destroy if they damaged Jane's reputation at all. Her last years were spent preserving and promoting her legacy and the future of her novels. In that she seems to have been very successfu ...more
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 ...more
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

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 fo
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A low-key, satisfying novel about Jane Austen's sister Cassandra. The cover, an exquisite lilac, illustrates this book perfectly. ...more
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 d
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Check out my review on Booktube! ...more
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 of Pride and Prejudice. It is so easy to forget that while Jane Austen was alive, she was not Miss 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, wh
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am in the mood for almost anything related to Jane Austen at the moment. Well, truth be told, I’m always in the mood for Austen as I’m a little fangirl.

This book, back when it was published, caught my eye due to the cover. The original, you see, is all hand-stitched (! And I was very pleased to discover that that design became the cover of the hardcover editions (no, they aren't actually stitched but at least the stitching is replicated in print on the
As a companion piece to Jane Austen's life, as told through her sister Cass, this novelization performs a kind of alchemy, a pretty recollection of biography told in a proper regency-romance style.

For everything it achieves, bringing Jane and her sisters to life, it does well, but I have a single quibble:

As fans, we're ALL set to sink our teeth into the juiciest mystery of all: the reason why the personal letters were burned!

No spoilers. But I will mention that I was slightly... let down. For ho
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 Cas
Mar 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
If you are a Jane Austen fan, I would recommend this. It starts off in the year 1840, when Cassandra is an older lady and is on a mission to find Jane's letters so she can destroy them. ( By the way, that concept still horrifies me!!) We do get flashbacks of when Jane and Cassandra are younger, and get glimpses of their lives through some letters. I appreciated Gill Hornby's take on Jane and what their lives were like. I enjoyed the flashbacks more than I did Cassandra's life in 1840. Overall, t ...more
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
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: austenesque
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
Meredith (Austenesque Reviews)
If readers know anything about Jane Austen’s personal life, it most likely pertains to how she and her sister, Cassandra, both remained unmarried and had the closest and most devoted of sibling relationships. With Jane Austen’s letters to Cassandra that portray their lifelong companionship, and the famously recorded words shared about them, it is easy to discern that these two sisters shared an uncommonly close and fulfilling bond:

“If Cassandra’s head had been going to be cut off, Jane would hav
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 thi ...more
Joan Happel
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this intriguing biographical novel, Gill Hornby takes up the story of Cassandra Austen, Jane Austen’s older sister. It is 1840, over twenty years after Jane’s death, and Cassandra, an aging spinster, is still working hard to preserve her sister’s legacy and reputation. She arrives unannounced at the family of the Fowles, the home of her former fiancé and close friends of the Austen’s. Cassandra is sure that some of her sister’s letters are still at the Fowle residence and she plans to retriev ...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
This review was first published on Babblings of a Bookworm: http://babblingsofabookworm.blogspot....

The Miss Austen of the title of this book is Cassandra Austen, Jane’s elder and only sister. What do we know about Cassandra? Well, we know that she and Jane were extremely close, sharing a bedroom when at home. They were best friends and confidants. When Jane Austen died, Cassandra wrote a letter to their niece, Fanny, which contains the following, which never fails to bring a tear to my eye:

I ha
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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, unannounc
When one sister dazzles with wit, vivacity, and pen, the other shines in her own way. Who was Cassandra Austen really? More than a sister with an intriguing heart-felt story of her own which Gill Hornby captures so ably in Miss Austen.

Miss Austen opens in 1840 on an old woman's quest that takes her into Berkshire to the grieving household of the Fowle Vicarage where she hopes to retrieve any correspondence that alters the story of her sister that she hopes will be preserved in posterity.
(3.5) The title character is not Jane Austen but her older sister Cassandra, who supported her in her life and after her death worked to preserve her literary legacy. Cassandra had two chances at romance, but the first was cut short by tragedy, after which she decided to remain a spinster. This is a nice look at the lives of unmarried women in the Georgian/Victorian period (though not, as far as that goes, as engaging as Tracy Chevalier’s A Single Thread), as well as a sideways glance at Jane he ...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
I adored MISS AUSTEN by Gill Hornby. The story concerns Cassandra Austen and her family and is most entertaining. As the Austens go through life and move from place to place, we find Cassandra reading and destroying letters which may have an unkind look toward Jane Austen. I believe this book will be looked at fondly by any reader of Jane Austen!
★★ 2.5 stars

When one hears the term MISS AUSTEN one immediately thinks of Jane Austen, the author of "Pride and Prejudice", "Sense and Sensibility" and "Emma" to name a few. But in actuality, the title of Miss Austen belonged to Jane's eldest sister Cassandra, of whom this story is about.

Cassandra (Cassy) was the most significant person in Jane's life as her confidante, closest friend and companion. And after her death, Cassandra became her censor in destroying so much of Jane's letters, protec
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
Desi (Pastel Pages)
Wow. What a gentle, soft, beautiful book. I just got done rereading all of Jane Austen's books and needed something that felt like her. And this book did just that. The writing was beautiful. It was slow and wasn't very plot focused, but the overall feel of the book is what I loved so much about it. It also made me cry! It was just a wonderful love letter to Jane and her sister Cassandra. Highly recommend it! ...more
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