Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cassandra & Jane-Jill Pitkeathley

Cassandra & Jane
Jill Pitkeathley
Harper, Sep 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 0061446394

Cassandra & Jane Austen were more than sisters; they were best friends sharing their desires for a romantic world though depending on relatives for sustenance made romanticism difficult. Neither finds much beyond disappointment as their family is at the lowest rung of the aristocracy; this means they must behave with decorum and obey the rules of the Hampshire Ton, as they are not high enough or wealthy enough to flaunt their standing as the poor relative. Making matters worse, romance proves bitterly disappointing for the siblings who each finds love only to lose love. However, when Jane dies at forty one, a grieving Cassandra destroys the letters from her sister that she always kept.

This is an engaging refreshing look at the life of Jane Austen through the eyes of her older sister. Cassandra and Jane are fully developed characters as the readers through the former’s perceptions learn much about what happened to Jane. Although the facts and the fiction do not always blend together the avid Austen audience will fully relish this biographical fiction as the novel is loaded with tidbits about this wonderful author whose works almost two centuries old remain in vogue today (unless you are Clueless)..

Harriet Klausner

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