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About the book
  • Published: 21 January 2020
  • ISBN: 9781529123777
  • Imprint: Century
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • RRP: $37.00
Categories:

Miss Austen

the #1 bestseller and one of the best novels of 2020 according to the Times, Observer, Stylist and more




A wonderfully original, emotionally complex ‘reading-group’ novel that delves into why Cassandra burned a treasure trove of letters written by her sister, Jane Austen – an act of destruction that has troubled academics for centuries.

The Sunday Times bestseller, and set to be a major TV drama
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'You can’t help feeling that Jane would have approved.’ OBSERVER
‘So good, so intelligent, so clever, so entertaining – I adored it.' CLAIRE TOMALIN
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A wonderfully original, emotionally complex novel that delves into why Cassandra burned a treasure trove of letters written by her sister, Jane Austen – an act of destruction that has troubled academics for centuries.

1840: twenty three years after the death of her famous sister Jane, Cassandra Austen returns to the village of Kintbury, and the home of her family’s friends, the Fowles.

She knows that, in some dusty corner of the sprawling vicarage, there is a cache of family letters which hold secrets she is desperate should not be revealed.

As Cassandra recalls her youth and her relationship with her brilliant yet complex sister, she pieces together buried truths about Jane’s history, and her own. And she faces a stark choice: should she act to protect Jane’s reputation? Or leave the contents of the letters to go unguarded into posterity …

Based on a literary mystery that has long puzzled biographers and academics, Miss Austen is a wonderfully original and emotionally complex novel about the loves and lives of Cassandra and Jane Austen.
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'The perfect book to wrap yourself around on a dark night' STYLIST

‘Without romanticising its period setting or underplaying the precariousness of any woman’s position in this society, it celebrates unexamined lives, sisterhood and virtues such as kindness and loyalty’ SUNDAY TIMES
'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 Bookclub

‘Hornby is at her best describing the complex bonds between the “excellent women” of her story. She describes the horrors, but also the pleasures, of spinsterhood’ THE TIMES

'It won’t surprise me if this is one of the books of the year. It’s a delight, one of those that you don’t want to end.’ RTE

‘A charming novel… capturing the spirit of the brilliant sardonic Jane, and reminding the reader of how brutal life was for women in Austen’s era, it’s an ingenious and affecting embroidery on the fact of the author’s life.’ SUNDAY MIRROR

'
Miss Austen is ingenious … With flashbacks and wonderful domestic detail, Hornby brings to life the Austen family, using the known to speculate on what might have been.' THE TIMES Audio Book of the Week

'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 ingeniously imagines what Cassandra Austen's own life might have been like, both before and after Jane’s untimely death, casting a different light on the familiar biographical picture without in any way distorting it.' DEIRDRE LE FAYE, editor of Jane Austen's Letters
‘Tender and touching ... Hornby deftly describes the psychological toll that such uncertainly took on Jane, and movingly celebrates the fortitude of Cassandra whose greatest love was her sister’ DAILY MAIL

‘Utterly absorbing. The lives of the Austen sisters are recreated with a brilliant sureness of touch that can only be achieved by deep study of the period.’ ARTEMIS COOPER

  • Pub date: 21 January 2020
  • ISBN: 9781529123777
  • Imprint: Century
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • RRP: $37.00

About the Author

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.


Praise for Miss Austen

“Gill Hornby ingeniously imagines what Cassandra Austen's own life might have been like, both before and after Jane’s untimely death, casting a different light on the familiar biographical picture without in any way distorting it.”

Deirdre Le Faye, editor of 'Jane Austen's Letters'

“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

“Without romanticising its period setting or underplaying the precariousness of any woman’s position in this society, it celebrates unexamined lives, sisterhood and virtues such as kindness and loyalty.”

SUNDAY TIMES

“Miss Austen is affecting, thought-provoking, and makes you think about both the Jane and Cassandra Austen in a new light.”

Helena Kelly, author of 'Jane Austen, The Secret Radical'

“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

“So good, so intelligent, so clever, so entertaining – I adored it.”

Claire Tomalin

“Miss Austen voices the (hitherto) shadowy figure of Cassandra, the villainies of the piece, and makes her flesh and blood…. Gill Hornby is at her best describing the complex bonds between the “excellent women” of her story. She describes the horrors, but also the pleasures, of spinsterhood.”

THE TIMES

“Miss Austen is an ingenious imaginary explanationof how so many of Jane’s letters came to be destroyed… With flashbacks and wonderful domestic detail, Hornby brings to life the Austen family, using the known to speculate on what might have been.”

THE TIMES audio book of the week

“A pitch perfect novel, fond and atmospheric. It reads as if Gill was born to write Cassandra’s story, and she brings her whole witty and sympathetic self to the task.”

KIRSTY WARK

“A cleverly observed fictional account of Jane Austen’s relationship with a sibling…The great joy of Miss Austen is that the reader feels immersed in a world that is convincingly Jane’s from the first page… It’s testament to Hornby’s skill, then, that I had to turn to the author’s note at the back to check how many of the letters included here were invented. It’s also extremely funny; figures in Jane’s life who might well have provided models for some of her more bumptious, self-important characters are fleshed out here with a comic relish that feels entirely Austenian… Miss Austen is a novel of great kindness, often unexpectedly moving, with much to say about the status of “invisible” older women. Above all, it’s concerned with the triumph of small acts of goodness; you can’t help feeling that Jane would have approved.’”

OBSERVER

“Utterly absorbing. The lives of the Austen sisters are recreated with a brilliant sureness of touch that can only be achieved by deep study of the period.”

ARTEMIS COOPER

“Austen aficionados have looked askance at Cassandra’s wilful destruction of her famous sibling’s letters, but here, in a tender and touching recreation of their relationship, the (imagined) correspondence is the key that unlocks the plot... Hornby deftly describes the psychological toll that such uncertainly took on Jane, and movingly celebrates the fortitude of Cassandra whose greatest love was her sister.”

DAILY MAIL

“A moving, often funny novel. Richly imagined and spryly told, it reinstates overlooked Cassandra as the most important person in Jane’s life, reimagining some of those lost letters as an added bonus.”

MAIL ON SUNDAY

“A delightfully astute re-imagining… A persuasive picture of a brilliant woman who’s often derailed by her domestic duties but driven to write regardless.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL

“A wonderfully original, emotionally complex novel that delves into why Cassandra burned a treasure trove of letters written by her sister, Jane Austen – an act of destruction that has troubled academics for centuries.”

IRISH EXAMINER

“Fans will delight in this new novelby Gill Hornby, which ingeniouslyimagines what Jane’s sister Cassandra Austen’s own life might have been like.”

VELVET MAGAZINE

“Miss Austen is both complicit in and a sly comment on our obsession with the novelist’s life and contested mental state, and it burns, too, with sympathy for the women forced to carve out different sorts of lives at a time when marriage was considered the only index of their worth.”

METRO

“A novel that will delight Pride and Prejudice fans.”

i News

“Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra takes centre stage in this engrossing novel that portrays what 19th Century life was like for an unmarried woman of limited means.”

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

“In this subtle and delicate novel, Gill Hornby has created a clever, warm hearted character in Cassandra, Jane Austen’s sister.”

WOMAN & HOME

“A charming novel… capturing the spirit of the brilliant sardonic Jane, and reminding the reader of how brutal life was for women in Austen’s era, it’s an ingenious and affecting embroidery on the fact of the author’s life.”

Sunday Mirror

“This is the perfect book to wrap yourself around on a dark night.”

STYLIST

“Gill Hornby weaves a magnificent work of the imagination, a pastiche of Regency style and manners, fabricating a solution to a problem that has long mystified scholar . . . Hornby’s portrayals of Cassandra and Jane are tantalising . . . All devotees of Austen’s novels will want to join Hornby, and Cassandra, in this enjoyable act of piety to Jane.”

THE SPECTATOR

“A beguilingly persuasive book that no Austen fan will want to miss.”

READERS DIGEST

“This is an engaging story about love, loss, and finding one's place in the world. A must-read for Jane Austen fans.”

The Austenite (Instagram)

“A beautifully wrought drama that find Cassandra, now an elderly spinster, looking back on the life they shared. Utterly charming.”

BEST

“Through her spry, witty portrait of Jane Austen’s sister, Hornby mounts a lively defence of single women’s liberty.”

Waterstones Weekly Newsletter

“This complex story reveals a clever and warm-hearted character in Cassandra, and brings us closer to one of the greatest of all English writers.”

WOMEN'S WEEKLY

“Fans of Pride and Prejudice and Emma will enjoy this touching story[…] In her meticulously researchedthird novel, Gill Hornby skilfully imagines the correspondence between the sisters.”

SUNDAY EXPRESS

“Hornby does amazingly well in the riskiest area of all, the invention of letters ostensibly written by Jane […] The television rights to this novel were sold at birth. No surprise: the dialogue is ready to roll […] People are going to love it, but I wonder if any screen adaptation will be able to convey the hidden treasure within this thoughtful story.”

LITERARY REVIEW

“‘It won’t surprise me if this is one of the books of the year, it’s a delight, one of those that you don’t want to end.’”

RTE

“Beautiful novel[…] light hearted historical fiction which resembles Austen’s novels, a really lovely read very suitable for incoming spring’ ”

Excuse My Reading (Instagram)

“Many of the themes familiar from Austen’s novels are deftly revisited by Hornby, and the letters that are reimagined are pitch-perfect, with deeply touching confidences shared in family correspondences. You can tell this book by its cover – it’s quite lovely.”

IRISH TIMES


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