MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Miss Austen: Book summary and reviews of Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

Miss Austen

by Gill Hornby

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby X
Miss Austen by Gill Hornby
  • Readers' rating:

  • Publishes in USA 
    Apr 7, 2020
    288 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

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 beloved sister, Jane, Cassandra Austen has lived alone, spending her days visiting friends and relations and quietly, purposefully working to preserve her sister's reputation. Now in her sixties and increasingly frail, Cassandra goes to stay with the Fowles of Kintbury, family of her long-dead fiancé, in search of a trove of Jane's letters. Dodging her hostess and a meddlesome housemaid, Cassandra eventually hunts down the letters and confronts the secrets they hold, secrets not only about Jane but about Cassandra herself. Will Cassandra bare the most private details of her life to the world, or commit her sister's legacy to the flames?

Moving back and forth between the vicarage and Cassandra's vibrant memories of her years with Jane, interwoven with Jane's brilliantly reimagined lost letters, Miss Austen is the untold story of the most important person in Jane's life. With extraordinary empathy, emotional complexity, and wit, Gill Hornby finally gives Cassandra her due, bringing to life a woman as captivating as any Austen heroine.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Hornby's gift to the world of Austen lovers is to return to Cassandra her rightful recognition as Jane's most intimate and sustaining relationship, her greatest love. This is a deeply imagined and deeply moving novel. Reading it made me happy and weepy in equally copious amounts." - Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

"Unputdownable. So good, so intelligent, so clever, so entertaining―I adored it." - Claire Tomalin, author of Jane Austen: A Life

"Extraordinary and heart-wrenching, Miss Austen transported me from page one. A remarkable novel that is wholly original, deeply moving, and emotionally complex. A gift to all Austen lovers." - Lara Prescott, author of The Secrets We Kept

"Gill Hornby places Cassandra center stage and ingeniously imagines what her own life might have been like―an approach which casts a different light on the familiar biographical picture without in any way distorting it." - Deirdre Le Faye, editor of Jane Austen's Letters

"I've seldom enjoyed any Austen-centered book so much as this. Affecting and thought-provoking, it makes you think about both the Miss Austens in a new light." - Helena Kelly, author of Jane Austen, the Secret Radical

"A joy from the prologue to the author's note. Rich in historical detail, family lore, and heart, Miss Austen will wow Janeites and enchant the uninitiated. Upon her sister's death, Cassandra claimed that she was 'the sun of my life.' Now we know why." - Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It

"Fans of Austen will rejoice in the chance to enter this fictional world and spend time with the extended Austen family as Cassandra and Jane navigate the demands of her genius and temperament in the face of the many pressures single women have endured throughout history." - Natalie Jenner, author of The Jane Austen Society

The information about Miss Austen shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Gail Brooks

Miss Austen
This novel will appeal to Jane Austen fans, of which there are multitudes over 200 years later. Aside from insight into romance in Georgian England, MISS AUSTEN gives an interesting glimpse into the Austen family dynamics. Cassandra, older sister of Jane, stands as the backbone of the family, supporting Jane through highs and lows, success and disappointment. This was a time when middle class women had few choices: marriage and many children or spinsterhood dependent upon the kindness of others to survive. Careers outside the home were limited. It was a real breakthrough when Jane's work was published anonymously, then under her own name. The brief bios at the beginning of the book were essential to keep track of these large intertwined families.

Gwen C. (Clearfield, PA)

Miss Austen
What a wonderful step into the world of Cassandra Austen - and sister Jane. I was thoroughly delighted with Hornby's rendering of Jane and Cassie's lives. I have read other "Austen-add on's" and this one -by far- captures (what I perceive to be) the sisters' relationship - and the plight of the unmarried woman in 18th century England. It's fun to see Jane as a little "snarky" at times and Cassie's inner thoughts contrasting with her outward behavior. All in all, a great read!

Mary L. (Greeley, CO)

More of the story
This book will appeal to admirers of Jane Austen's writing and also readers who love exploring both history and family relationships. The book alternates between Jane and her sister Cassandra's adult years and 1840, 23 years after Jane has passed, as Cassy seeks to protect Jane's reputation by destroying some letters Jane wrote. The novel also shines a light on the plight of women, married and, especially, single in England at the time. The wit and subtle humor are reminiscent of Jane Austen, herself.

Katie V. (Madison, WI)

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby: Cassandra Austen's Story
Miss Austen begins in the springtime, and the novel is infused with the positive energy of spring's possibility. An unflinching look at the constraints around women's lives in the 1700s and 1800s, the novel shows how bright, creative women like Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra navigated within those gender limitations and ultimately created space for themselves to live lives of their choosing. Told from Cassandra Austen's perspective, the book moves back and forth in time, bringing to life Cassandra's rich memories of her creative, boisterous family, especially her beloved sister Jane, and then returning to Cassandra's present, after Jane has passed away and Cassandra has embarked on a mission to protect Jane's legacy. This delightful book offers historical detail, glimpses into Austen's characters and novels, immersive depictions of the landscapes in which the Austens lived, star-crossed romance, and ultimately the satisfaction of women's lives well lived. I enjoyed it immensely, and looked forward to picking it up every evening.

Deborah W. (Boynton Beach, FL)

Meet "Miss Austen" and Her Sister, Jane
In this delightful novel about Jane Austen's sister Cassandra the author deftly weaves in familiar Austen plot elements: sisters and their immediate and extended relatives; seaside visits; a public dance and a picnic; visits with friends; domestic issues and long walks; off-stage marriage proposals and their consequences; mistakes about love, some fixable and some not; and the necessity of finding one's place in the world, particularly for unmarried women. The author's tone and details are spot-on throughout, and key biographical facts and dates are followed. In addition to playing a central role Cassandra also showcases her sister's wit and insights. The book is a treat for Jane Austen's many fans, a charming return to her world; and I, for one, was glad to spend time there.

Dorothy M. (Maynard, MA)

An Austen you can enjoy
If, like me, you are disappointed in the interpretation that PBS has made of the unfinished novel by Jane Austen, I have a book for you. Miss Austen by Gill Hornby focuses on Cassandra, Jane's older sister, constant companion and the literary executor of her estate. Written with the subtle wit of Jane Austen, Hornby introduces us to Cassandra in her later years, several years after Jane's death. Always concerned about the legacy that Jane will leave, when Cassandra learns that the parsonage where the Fowles - extended family and great friends of the Austen's - lived is being claimed by the replacement clergyman, she invites herself to stay. She is determined to find and censor any letters that might cast a shadow on Jane's life. And as is often the case when you dig in the past, she learns some things she might prefer not to know. As Jane Austen did, Hornby shows us the options open to women during the period, always limited, and the dismal opportunities for single women or women whose husbands are no longer around. I thoroughly enjoyed this chance to explore a different aspect of Jane Austen's life. While this is fiction, the author has been careful to stay within the historical data (and speculation) around the Austen family. The echoes of Mrs Bennett in Mrs. Austen and the depiction of Mary Austen, James' wife who has never met an issue she can't criticize, are another bit of the charm.

...7 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Gill Hornby

Gill Hornby is the author of the novels The Hive and All Together Now, as well as The Story of Jane Austen, a biography of Austen for young readers. She lives in Kintbury, England, with her husband and their four children.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more historical fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Good Neighborhood
    A Good Neighborhood
    by Therese Anne Fowler
    After fictionalized biographies of Zelda Fitzgerald (Z, 2013) and Alva Vanderbilt (A Well-Behaved ...
  • Book Jacket: Little Gods
    Little Gods
    by Meng Jin
    Little Gods, Meng Jin's intricate, emotionally intelligent debut, opens with a scene in which ...
  • Book Jacket: The Truants
    The Truants
    by Kate Weinberg
    The Truants opens with Jess Walker, a first-year university student in Norfolk, England, ...
  • Book Jacket: The End of the Ocean
    The End of the Ocean
    by Maja Lunde
    In The History of Bees, her debut novel for adults, internationally bestselling Norwegian writer ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Remembrance
    by Rita Woods

    A breakout debut with modern resonance, perfect for fans of The Underground Railroad and Orphan Train.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Father of Lions
    by Louise Callaghan

    A true-to-life narrative of one man's remarkable quest to save the Mosul Zoo.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
American Dirt
by Jeanine Cummins

"American Dirt is a Grapes of Wrath for our times."
—Don Winslow

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The Lost Family

The Lost Family
by Libby Copeland

A deeply reported look at the rise of home genetic testing and the seismic shock it has had on individual lives.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A F I Need I A F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.