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Cassandra and Jane by Jill Pitkeathley

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Cassandra and Jane by Jill Pitkeathley

Post by boswellbaxter » Tue October 7th, 2008, 3:31 am

Cassandra and Jane is a historical novel about Jane Austen and her older sister, Cassandra. Told in the first person by Cassandra, it takes the sisters from early childhood to the aftermath of Jane's death, as Cassandra seeks to protect her sister's privacy as well as her literary legacy.

Cassandra sees herself very much as being in Jane's shadow, and save for Cassandra's brief engagement, which ends tragically with the death of her fiance, this is essentially Jane's story. We see her romantic entanglements, her fraught relationship with her mother, her resentment at her economic dependence on her brothers, her sometimes touchy relationship with Cassandra, and, above all, her growth as a writer. Pitkeathley's great respect for both sisters is obvious, as is her familiarity with and love for Austen's works.

I was curious about the historical basis for one incident in the novel, where Jane and a clergyman meet and court, mostly by letter. To my disappointment, though Pitkeathley does include an author's note, she doesn't discuss that particular episode there. (In an interview, however, she notes that she based it on a reference by one of Jane Austen's relations.) This omission in the author's note didn't at all detract from my enjoyment of the novel, but as it's the sort of question a reader is likely to have after reading the novel, it's a pity it wasn't addressed. This aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and recommend it to both Austen fans and Austen novices alike.
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles


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Post by Telynor » Thu October 9th, 2008, 9:15 pm

Thank you for writing this one up. As an Austenphile, I tend to read anything I can connected with Austen, so this is certain to appear on my TBR.

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Post by Aneca » Thu October 9th, 2008, 10:26 pm

Thanks for the review, I've been curious about this book and now I'll add it to my WL.

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