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Cassandra and Jane: A Jane Austen Novel by…

Cassandra and Jane: A Jane Austen Novel

by Jill Pitkeathley

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This is an enjoyable but fairly run-of-the-mill fictionalized biography of Jane Austen, told from the point of view of her sister, Cassandra. The author stays pretty true to the known facts of Austen's life--which doesn't necessarily make for an exciting read. If anything is expanded upon here, it's simply some of the family quarrels and Cassandra's jealousy over sharing Jane with others. We learn little, either real or imagined, about Cassandra's own life, aside from her engagement to a young clergyman who died before their wedding, her stints of caring for ailing and about-to-deliver relatives, and her assistance in reading, making copies of, and giving suggestions for Jane's manuscripts in progress. Overall, it was a fast and enjoyable read but might be appreciated more by those who haven't read any deeper biographies of Austen. ( )
1 vote Cariola | Jan 29, 2016 |
Like another reviewer said, I was quite distracted by the amount of typos in the book...simple things like it's/its and where/were...that definitely should have been caught by any level of editor. I made myself complete the book because it's the only P I could find for my A-Z author list, but I thought she took a lot of liberties. I did enjoy referring to the family chart in the back to see the ages and deaths of the siblings, which helped place Jane Austen in a certain time period. It also made me want to re-read her novels yet again. Oh, summer just won't be long enough! ( )
  carka | Jul 25, 2010 |
Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra were the only two daughters in their family and neither of them married, resulting in a life-long close relationship between the two. “Cassandra and Jane” is told from Cassandra’s point of view, after Jane’s death as Cassandra is looking through the letters they exchanged and looking back over their lives together.

For someone who knew little to nothing about Jane Austen’s life, “Cassandra and Jane” was very informative. It imbued me with a new-found desire to go and read the rest of Austen’s books (particularly since all I have read is “Pride and Prejudice”). In this sense, it is fantastic for the casual Austen-devotee. I think, however, it is something that would be more enjoyed by Austen fantatics. As I was not already deeply invested in Jane, I did not enjoy the book as much as I might otherwise have. I had more of an “oh, that’s interesting” attitude than a desire to delve deep into the lives of Jane and Cassandra.

http://www.devourerofbooks.com/2008/11/cassandra-and-jane-book-review/ ( )
  DevourerOfBooks | Dec 11, 2008 |
If little is known about Jane Austen, even less is known about her sister Cassandra Austen, aside from the fact that she sketched the only portrait we have of Jane and never married. Jill Pitkeathley assumes Cassandra’s viewpoint in this historical novel, imagining the close relationship between the sisters from childhood until Jane’s early death. Together, the sisters experience the pain of lost loves, the struggles of unmarried daughters reliant on their brothers’ wealth, jealousy, and a variety of other trials, never losing their faith in each other.

I try to avoid “sequel” type books for most of my favorite literature. I make an exception here; I have no problem with historical fiction imagining the lives of these authors, as that’s on a different plane from ruining one of my favorite books, so I was eager to read this book. I’d never heard of the author before, but it sounded lovely and I was right, it was worth my time. I felt that this novel evoked a perfect late 17th/early 18th century England. Pitkeathley never slips, never introduces any anachronisms; I feel that she must know Austen’s novels very intimately to make this one feel like it’s drawn straight from that era.

Moreover, you can see that she’s drawn on those novels to produce Jane’s opinions and her personality, and I love that Pitkeathley gives tribute to Jane’s brilliance, when she is so frequently downgraded by people who dismiss her novels as early chick lit. Jane here is a great, multi-faceted character, frequently discontent with her lot and determined to express the problems inherent in society in her writing.

Unfortunately, there is one downside to this novel, and that is Cassandra. She is, simply, dull. It’s clear that she is just a mirror held up to Jane’s brilliance, and while the real Cassandra may have had some personality of her own, this one doesn’t. She only expresses an opinion twice, when she becomes engaged and when she is jealous of Jane. Otherwise, she is far too complacent and colorless. She could almost have been an omniscient 3rd person narrator for all I cared about her; the sisters’ relationship is nice, but it is Jane that this novel is clearly about and all the other characters fade before her.

I’d also like to mention this novel’s genesis. Ms. Pitkeathley had cancer twice, and the second time, she determined that if she lived, she would write this novel. It’s incredibly admirable of her not only to determine that and follow through on her promise to herself, but to deliver a book that is a very good read. She’s done a great job here and I will give her a lot of credit. I hope she writes another novel, as she definitely has talent.

I would recommend Cassandra and Jane to those who would like to read more about Jane Austen; who would like to, in a sense, get more of the feel of her novels without ruining them. It’s a good read, but it could have been more.

http://chikune.com/blog/?p=251 ( )
1 vote littlebookworm | Oct 7, 2008 |
Cassandra and Jane, by Jill Pitkeathley is a charming book of the adult life of Jane Austen and her relationship with her older sister Cassandra. It is a historical fiction account of their lives told in the voice of Cassandra. This is the story of what "might have been." It chronicles the day to day life, friends and family of the famous author and her sister. In this book you will get to "meet" Jane's family in an intimate setting. It is not unlike the Bennett family life that is portrayed in Pride and Prejudice. We get a glimpse of how Jane's writing were indeed affected by her own family and social life.

It is a wonderful little morsel for Jane Austen enthusiasts. In this story we see the bond between the two sisters through the trials and tribulations of women in the early 1800's. In Cassandra and Jane we get to see the production and time line of the writings for Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, and Northhanger Abbey.

I recommend reading this book to all who love "Jane stuff" and anyone who has ever had a sister. The ending of the book is so heartwarming and moving and it portrays both women to have strong hearts and a fierce, loyal love for one another.

I was pleased to review this book for Harper Collins.

Note: I want to note there is a lovely little section from the author at the end of the book along with historical facts of Jane Austen. I wanted to say that this would be a great book to introduce someone to the world of Jane Austen. ( )
  coolpinkone | Oct 2, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Cassandra and Jane by Jill Pitkeathley (US Copyright 2008, HarperCollins Publishers, New York) recounts Austen’s life from sister Cassandra’s sympathetic viewpoint. Opening and closing with the famous letter burning scene, Cassandra remembers Jane’s birth, life, and contributions. There are historical facts woven throughout the book as well as three or four direct quotes from Austen’s novels. The language seems appropriate for the period. The conversations reflect both Jane’s astuteness and Cassandra’s affection. The almost-romance even seems plausible, given the little we actually know about Jane’s life and tastes.
added by AustenBlog | editAustenBlog, A Baja Janeite (Jul 28, 2009)
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This book is dedicated to my family and friends, who would not let me go
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I have kept every one of the letters that Jane wrote to me.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061446394, Paperback)

They were beloved sisters and the best of friends. But Jane and Cassandra Austen suffered the same fate as many of the women of their era. Forced to spend their lives dependent on relatives, both financially and emotionally, the sisters spent their time together trading secrets, challenging each other's opinions, and rehearsing in myriad other ways the domestic dramas that Jane would later bring to fruition in her popular novels. For each sister suffered through painful romantic disappointments—tasting passion, knowing great love, and then losing it—while the other stood witness. Upon Jane's death, Cassandra deliberately destroyed her personal letters, thereby closing the door to the private life of the renowned novelist . . . until now.

In Cassandra & Jane, author Jill Pitkeathley ingeniously reimagines the unique and intimate relationship between two extraordinary siblings, reintroducing readers to one of the most intriguing figures in the world of literature, as seen through the eyes of the one person who knew her best.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:02 -0400)

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A tale inspired by the relationship between Jane Austen and her sister follows the romantic disappointments suffered by both young women, describes their frustrating financial dependency on their relatives, and depicts the intellectual sparring that marked their devoted friendship.… (more)

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