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Miss Austen


A witty, poignant novel about Cassandra Austen and her famous sister, Jane.
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After reading this novel, do you sympathize with Cassandra's actions?

Created: 04/06/21

Replies: 13

Posted Apr. 06, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2541

After reading this novel, do you sympathize with Cassandra's actions?

Cassandra Austen is perhaps most famous (or infamous) for having destroyed many of her sister Jane's personal papers, including letters and manuscripts, after her death. After reading this novel, do you sympathize with Cassandra's actions? Do you believe, like her, that personal details about her sister are "none of posterity's business," or do readers and scholars have a right to know more about the lives of famous figures like Jane Austen?


Posted Apr. 08, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rachelh

Join Date: 10/19/20

Posts: 35

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

Before reading this book I hadn't been familiar with the fact that Cassandra Austen destroyed many of her sister's letters, but thinking about it now, I do think it was a very understandable thing to do, both for the real Cassandra and her fictional counterpart. I really sympathized with Cassandra's desire to protect her sister's legacy and am inclined to agree that certain private details are "none of posterity's business." It's wonderful and exciting when readers and scholars have a lot of details about a historical figure's personal life but I don't think that's necessarily owed to us.


Posted Apr. 08, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ABeman

Join Date: 01/14/15

Posts: 58

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

Absolutely. Gill Hornby has imaginatively and empathetically created a plausible explanation for what the literary world has for years been unable to excuse Cassandra Austen.


Posted Apr. 08, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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charlaw

Join Date: 09/06/16

Posts: 5

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

I believe Cassandra was absolutely right to try to protect her sister’s legacy. In fact, I think the destruction of information about Jane has helped to add to Jane’s popularity. Not having all of the answers regarding Jane’s life is part of the allure. Perhaps if we had all of our questions answered, we would not be so drawn to her or her work.


Posted Apr. 09, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
terriej

Join Date: 07/28/11

Posts: 318

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

Absolutely. Privacy helped preserve Jane's integrity.


Posted Apr. 11, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scottishrose

Join Date: 07/24/11

Posts: 78

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

I understand why Cassandra destroyed letters, etc. That being said, I am a history person, and I think if you are going to truly understand someone or something, you need all the facts, not just a whitewashed version.


Posted Apr. 11, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susiej

Join Date: 10/15/14

Posts: 330

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

I think Gill Hornby must believe this to be the case, or she would not have written this novel as a possible explanation for what ABeman says the literary world has long felt to be inexcusable on Cassie's part. As a serious reader, however, I am on the literary world's side, and I also agree with scottishrose. Jane Austen does not come across blindly white as a lily in this novel, and I think that if Cassie had not done as she did, the world would still be celebrating Jane's work, reading her novels as heartily as it does today - maybe even for very different and even better reasons, reasons which may give even more insight into the history of the era. Her work is far too clever to have been overlooked or to have escaped the eye of serious readers forever - in spite of Cassie's actions.


Posted Apr. 11, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Kathy Ann

Join Date: 04/11/21

Posts: 5

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

I think it is sad that Jane's letters and manuscripts were destroyed, especially when one reads of books created from other authors left behind works. Readers only have the completed novels of Jane Austen as everything not finished was destroyed by Cassandra. Was Cassandra afraid of the failed engagements story coming to light? This would be a big concern in her day, though maybe not as much now or in America where titles do not mean anything. Many people do not get married for any number of reasons. Like Cassandra, fiances can die. Some people are not asked or are asked by the wrong people. It is sad that readers cannot know of Jane's world except through her novels.


Posted Apr. 12, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Loveslife

Join Date: 08/01/15

Posts: 41

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

I am in agreement with Scottishrose. I understand Cassandra was motivated to protect the private life of her sister, Jane Austen, but as a lover of history I am sad that a piece of history was lost. I think future generations can benefit greatly by insights into famous people. It helps to humanize and give them a depth often missing from a pure history narrative.


Posted Apr. 12, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
katherinep

Join Date: 07/16/14

Posts: 298

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

I'm torn here--on the one hand the history of the life is an interesting adjunct to the writing. But do we really need to know that Hemingway liked to play the woman's role in bed or that Anne Perry is a convicted murderer? How does that add to the legacy of their written works? Is the private life of someone who becomes famous, author, actor, weatherman etc really the public's right to know? I think not. As to her manuscripts--unfinished or otherwise--hard to say whether she would have wanted them published--why didn't she finish them--did she not like them or feel they were her best work? It would have been far better had she destroyed them herself but perhaps Cassy knew her sister better than Jane's public and knew how much Jane would have wanted to be exposed to them.


Posted Apr. 15, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
tswaine

Join Date: 09/14/11

Posts: 71

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

I also understand why Cassie wanted to destroy Jane's letters and papers, but those were part of her history.


Posted Apr. 19, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
carolynd

Join Date: 05/16/11

Posts: 29

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

Cassandra and family needed to live on a very limited income. The sale of Jane's books was significant to the well being of the family. Cassandra was protecting her family and Jane's legacy.


Posted Apr. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
nancyread

Join Date: 12/14/18

Posts: 3

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

I can sympathize with Cassandra's motivation given that she lived in a time when propriety and discretion were extremely important to one's reputation. Cassandra was doing what she thought would best support Jane and her reputation, something she had spent her whole life doing. On the other hand, it is very sad to have lost these vital primary sources.


Posted Apr. 29, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeann

Join Date: 11/14/11

Posts: 56

RE: After reading this novel, do you ...

I think that Cassandra was so close to Jane that she knew what Jane would have wanted. She was acting in what she thought was Jane's best interests. Things were very different back then, and what was a big concern then would not be a big deal now. It was a diffferent time and place.
Something was surely lost though when these things were destroyed.
So, I'm with others who can see both sides of it (Nancyread and others)


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