Cover Image: Miss Austen

Miss Austen

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Member Reviews

Plot (2 Stars): I wanted to like this soooo much! I love Jane Austen books, but this plot didn't grab me. When I reached the end of the book, I was still waiting for the story to start. I was bored through most of it. It was a great way to look at what life was like in the 19th century for women.

Characters (3 stars): They had their interesting moments, but I wasn't in love with any of them.

Writing (5 stars): This was an ARC so I was asked not to say much about the writing, however, I loved the writing! The author did an excellent job of tapping into her inner Austen. It was more than I could have done. I may be able to write a line or two that's "Austen-ish", but never an entire book. Hornby did an amazing job.

Overall: I didn't love this book, but I know a lot of people did. It just wasn't my cup of tea. I give it 3 stars.

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I have loved Jane Austen's novels since I was a young girl so to step back into that period of time and read about the Austen sisters themselves was a true joy.

Over twenty years since her sister Jane has passed and Cassandra finds herself uprooting her life to return to the Fowles house which stirs up many memories. The current occupants are preparing to leave so Cassandra is there on a single mission - to find the  family letters that are hidden there. Family letters that could change so much if they were to become public knowledge. And as Cassandra settles down to her task, an entire vibrant past is brought to light as we experience what life living as an Austen was truly like. 

The setting, the prose, everything felt like an Austen novel which made this story all the more special. Cassandra is a wonderful character and learning more about her and the Austen family was fascinating. There are plenty of interesting characters along the way - some comedic, some sorrowful, and some simply vindictive - and I fell back in time effortlessly as I turned each page. 

MISS AUSTEN by Gill Hornby is a must for all Austen fans but also for historical fiction fans in general, as it is superb from beginning to end. I look forward to reading more from Gill Hornby.
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This book is a historical fiction retelling of Jane Austen and her sister Cassy. Cassy is the main person we follow inside this novel. She is a sweet, kind, incredible character just how Jane was. There are definitely some slow parts in the book, but the writing and character-building in this book is great. There were quotes that made me laugh, smile and get emotional. I definitely recommend this one for fans of Jane Austen.
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Miss Austen
by Gil Hornby

About the Book

My Thoughts

Being the Janite that I am, when I heard about this book I was all about it. And it did not disappoint.

I’ve always been intrigued by Cassandra Austen, who has been likened to Jane Bennet of Pride and Prejudice fame. Reading about her was a delight. The devotion she had for her sister was inspiring, yet her own personal story was a treat to read about as well. She seemed like such a sweet person, though as she grew older, she had a bit of a bite to her, particularly when it came to the ridiculousness of some society women. I loved getting to know that side of her. The lyrical element of this book made it all the more delightful. A gentle tone that fit Cassandra so well brings her story to life and makes this a book readers everywhere will not want to miss.

Any Janeite would be delighted to add Miss Austen to their collection.

All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Thank you to MacMillan and NetGalley for the complimentary copy of this book.
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Jane Austen's sister Cassandra burned many of Jane's letters after her death and scholars have long lamented this loss to literature.  This novel speculates the reasons for Cassandra's actions and the possible content of the lost letters.  The fictional letters act as a springboard to significant events in the Austen sisters' lives, and the reader shares in their youthful hopes and adult disappointments.

Homby uses the facts to flesh out Jane's possible thoughts and emotions, and we learn that the author's life was nowhere near as "light, bright, and sparkling" as her novels.  It's a quiet book, sad and reflective, that will primarily be of interest to Jane Austen's many fans.
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From my blog: Always With a Book:

I was excited to read this book and even though it is not centered primarily about Jane Austen, I still enjoyed it very much. It was the perfect book to sit down with along with a nice cup of tea and lose myself in during this crazy time right now.

This book centers around Cassandra Austen, Jane's sister, and I have to admit I do not know much about Jane Austen's personal life so I found this book to be quite fascinating. Even though the book is a work of fiction, it is based on true events and it does have me yearning to know more about the Austen family as a whole, which I love.

Cassandra and Jane were the best of friends and I can very much relate to that kind of sibling relationship as I have that with my sisters. Now that Cassandra is close to the end of her days, she is determined to find any letters written to or from Jane to close friends that may damage Jane's reputation. She feels it is her duty to her sister and her family to do so. As she finds these letters, she is swept up in the memories and this allows the book to move from the present to the past.

I loved the way this story was told. It completely swept me up in the Austen sisters' lives and I felt as if I were right there along with them. It was interesting to learn a bit about Jane as she was writing her stories - I did not know that some of her books had different names before they became what we now know them as. I found myself completely in awe of Cassandra - she was dealt a tough hand early in life and ended up spending the rest of her life caring for those around her. This was by choice, but it didn't necessarily have to be this way. I did not, though, agree with her decision to burn the letters once she found them...oh how this angered me.

This was a great book to learn a bit more about not only Jane Austen as a person, but also her sister, who was so near and dear to her. It is well researched and quite enjoyable, and has left me with a hankering to reread some of my beloved Jane Austen books. I highly recommend this to all fans of Jane won't be disappointed.
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I liked reading about Cassandra.  Much is made about Jane Austen and her love for her sister, but it was nice for Cassandra to have a chance to shine.
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Often when we study or think about famous names in history, we don't stop to think about the people around them - their siblings, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, spouses, lovers, friends. Miss Austen is the story of one of those lesser talked about figures in history. In this book we get one interpretation of what life may have been like for Cassandra Austen,the sister of one of history's most beloved authors. History told us that Cassandra burned a large portion of her sister's letters. Historians and Jane Austen lovers have long speculated why  Cassandra would have destroyed them. This book suggests the answer is - the world doesn't need to know ALL of your secrets.

My favorite scene from the book was when Cassandra is speaking to her sister-in-law: "Dear Mary, surely our history is all in our minds, in our memories. We can do no more than pass it on to the next generation, with as much honesty as we can muster. And only hope what lives on is true." "As if there were any interest! Oh the stories of men will live on, I am sure...But our own? Not a bit of it. There will be no one to care about us."
I found this so fitting for the themes of the book. I am glad that our society is at a point where people are interested in the lives of the women who played roles in shaping our present. There are many other novels being released in 2020 that aim to accomplish the same goal - and I am here for them all!! 

Seamlessly alternating between past and present, this well researched novel delivers interesting theories on why history unfolded the way that it did.

Thank you to NetGalley, Flatiron Books, and Gill Hornby for the advanced copy of Miss Austen in exchange for my honest review.
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Like all Janeites, I've often wished that Cassandra Austen hadn't destroyed so much of her family's correspondence. Gill Hornby not only gives us the very human perspective on why she would have done so but gives us a fiesty. tenacious heroine. The contents of the letters are imagined and woven into the story of the twilight of Cassandra's life. This book is probably more enjoyable for Jane fans, but I think the characters are relatable for a wider audience, especially for anyone who has lived in the shadow of someone else.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for a digital ARC for the purpose of an unbiased review.
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Cassandra Austen may be a little less known than her younger sister Jane Austen, but in this book told through her perspective she is in pursuit of letters that will conceal the truth about her and her sister's past.  

Told through basically two points of time, one is the years just before Jane dies and the other the years right before Cassandra dies, these sisters were the only two Austen girls in their generation and had a very untraditional life.  Both single for their entire lives and living with their mother for quite a few years, they relied on their brothers for everything.

I enjoyed the birds eye view on parts of Jane Austen's life, but because I haven't read her a ton, I felt a little clueless at times.  I wish I knew more about her life and her work before reading this one.  I think those who are Jane Austen fans would enjoy this book more than I did.  It could to your Jane Austen shelf now.
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“Cassandra raised the paper to her lips, closed her eyes and, as a pilgrim with a saint’s relic, kissed it.”

Miss Austen gives us a possible tale of how and why Cassandra Austen rid the world of some of Jane’s correspondence. Masterfully written, it satisfies the itch to speculate on more of Austen’s life. Gill Hornby takes the reader through a wide range of emotions and leaves them feeling as though they glimpsed in the window and spied on our precious Cassandra and Jane. 

Cassandra has lived a good life. She can’t complain. However, her one duty left to complete is a monumental task. Make sure she culls all of Jane’s correspondence and protects the Austen reputation. In order to do so, she must quickly travel to the last known location and find the letters.

Staying in the old Austen home brings back so many memories of days gone by. Cassandra slips back to dreams of her life that has past. Did she and Jane make the right decisions? Did they live their lives to the fullest?  So many questions resurface and she relives the past. 

Besides the letters, she must help the current resident of the old home deal with the death of her father. 

Superbly written!  The story crosses between present and past so seamlessly it feels like a dream. It gives you a fresh take on what real life was like for Cassandra and Jane. Leaving behind the cutesy Regency storylines, this serves as a fresh reminder that in their time women needed each other to weather the storm of being a woman in an overt man’s world. Survival depended on it. 

The telling from Cassandra’s point of view allows a broader look at the Austen family as a whole. Although it is Cassandra’s story, I believe there is enough Jane weaved throughout to leave Austen fans happy. I give this book at 5/5 rating.

Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for this advance copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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This was such a well-written, well-researched, enjoyable read. I learned so much about both Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra. I love the way it went back and forth in time, with Cassandra in the present day reading letters from Jane, and then flashing back to that time in their lives. In this way the book covers a long span of time, from the time Cassandra becomes engaged to Tom Fowle all the way to almost the end of her life.

I love this type of historical fiction, where an established truth is grown and expanded into what is not known - in this case, the fact that Cassandra Austen burned over two thirds of her sisters letters. What was in those letters that she felt she had to prevent the public from seeing? All the letters and many of the scenes in this book are purely fiction, but I could see them having a basis in truth. 

I also love how there were multiple love stories in this book, both ones with happy endings and sad endings. I also loved the focus on female friendships,  between Cassandra and Jane, as well as with Martha and others in the past, and her unlikely developing friendship with Isabella and Dinah in the present day. In fact the way the book was written I almost felt like Cassandra and Isabella and all the rest became my friends throughout the reading of this book. I really felt like I was there with them.

It is so interesting that Cassandra and Jane never married, and of course we don’t really know the reasons, but I like the theories presented in this book.

All in all I’m definitely glad I read this. It’s a look at Jane Austen’s life, and I’d definitely recommend it to Jane Austen fans, but it’s a look at the sister who kind of fell behind the scenes as well. I’m so glad that Cassandra has also gotten some spotlight as well.

A quote towards the end kind of made me chuckle, in a conversation between Cassandra and her sister-in-law: ”’Dear Mary, surely our history is all in our minds, in our memories. We can do no more than pass it on to the next generation, with as much honesty as we can muster. And only hope what lives on is true.’
‘As if there were any interest! Oh the stories of men will live on, I am sure...But our own? Not a bit of it. There will be no one to care about us.’”

It’s so interesting because Cassandra put forth the version history she wanted remembered by burning the letters. And yet here we are 200 years later so interested in the stories of these women.
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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, this was an enjoyable book but not one that I would pick up again and again.

*Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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“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 proposal to Cassandra and ends long after Janes death.
The authors prose is lyrical and moving, the story itself, slow, detailed and realistic. The writer brings to life Casandra, Mary and a whole host of other women in vivid detail.
Jane herself is elusive, hovering just out of reach as if the fictional Cassandra is prepared even here to go to any lengths to protect her sister, she gives little away.
Janes’ genius saturates the book but Jane herself is mostly left to our imagination. Cassandra however takes centre stage, being complex, flawed, brilliant and wonderfully human.
This book also offers a fascinating, detailed insight into women’s lives in Georgian Society and is clearly very well researched. Loneliness, dependence, poverty, love and duty are all given a human face in this book.
It is entertaining, making the reader both laugh and, when the end comes with little drama but with aching realism, cry.
I can not recommend this book highly enough. Thank you Netgalley
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A beautiful story of family and friendship. I loved Cassandra’s determination and her sass. Her genuine care for people always shows through and her actions, though not always right, are proof of that. 
This is a slow book, and that’s not a bad thing. We get to sit with the characters and commiserate with them. 
My only negative really was that there were a lot of flashbacks and sometimes they weren’t set up the best and it would confuse me as to what time the scene was taking place.
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This novel started off  a bit slowly for me, but picked up as I became more acquainted with the characters.   Miss Austen, is about the other Austen sister, Cassandra Austen.  As we follow the fictionalized life of Cassandra, possibly the more interesting sister, we learn more about the novelist, Jane.  As I am not familiar with either of their lives, I found this novel to be both informative and interesting.
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This book was received as an ARC from Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

I was so ecstatic to read this book being a huge Jane Austen fan and having read so many adaptations of her livelihood and works, I knew I had to give Miss Austen a chance. First off I was shocked to find out Jane had a sister even though I kind of knew it when reading her novels since most of them are about the sisterhood bond but I never knew her name and how she was like personality wise. I love the name Cassandra and you don't hear it a lot anymore. I also loved the sisterly love she had with Jane and how that made her ambitious enough to track down those letters and know the truth of not only her sister but for herself too. I enjoyed every page of this book and I could not stop reading it. I know a lot of our patrons would love it too.

We will consider adding this title to our Historical Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
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"Miss Austen" by Gill Hornby is a historical fiction story about the Austen family from the perspective of Jane's older sister Cassandra Austen. It tells the story of Austen family life both before and after the death of Jane Austen. The story goes back and forth between the time while Jane was alive and later in Cassandra's life in 1840 when Cassandra goes to retrieve letters that she and Jane wrote to a relative after the passing of the relative's husband in order to ultimately destroy them to protect Jane's legacy.

Cassandra is elderly in much of this story and she tells the tale through letters and flashbacks of how her own choices led to her spinsterhood as she watches a younger generation of single sisters connected to her family by marriage make decisions in their own lives after their parents pass away. The story of Jane Austen is well known from history, but this unique work of fiction from Cassandra's perspective is a unique book in the world of Jane Austen that many readers will find refreshing. 

I received a copy of the book by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author and publisher!
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***I received a free copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby is a touching historical fiction about Cassandra Austen. 

Cassandra was once engaged to Isabella's uncle, Tom Fowle. The families were very close and both Jane and Cassandra Austen were very good friends with Isabella's mother, Eliza.  An elderly Cassandra visits Isabella in order to retrieve letters that had been written to Isabella's mother by Jane and Cassandra. She doesn't want private matters about her sister to become public. The letters in this story are of course made up by the author but according to family record Cassandra did look over and destroy some of the correspondence involving herself and her sister, Jane. 

The story takes place in a dual timeline. The past is told through letters and Cassandra's memories. The present will make the reader feel for the remaining sister and her responsibilities to the family. Even though the letters are imagined they were touching and realistic to the story. The author is able to bring across the loving relationship and loyalty between sisters. This book also helped me to place the members of the Austen family, their spouses, and the children. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would definitely read more from author. This book is perfect for historical fiction fans as well as Jane Austen fans. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review this book. 

Historical Fiction  
Release Date: April 7, 2020
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This novel blew me away. It was captivatingly moving, poignant, and enthralling. It will make you cry and smile at the same time. This book is for anyone who loves Austen's novels. For readers who want to know more about The Austen sisters. Beautifully written.
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