Cassandra Austen Tells All!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Besides being the devoted sister to one of the most cherished and beloved authors, Cassandra Austen is best known for her devastating destruction of many of Jane Austen’s letters and correspondence. What was in these precious letters that Cassandra didn’t want the world to see? What new insight to Jane Austen’s personality would they have provided? Admirers of Jane Austen’s novels cannot help but harbor a desire to know more about this wonderful woman’s character, yet, because of her letters being destroyed we are only able to know what Cassandra wanted us to know. In her biographical fiction novel, author Jill Pitkeathley envisions the special relationship between Cassandra and Jane, displaying what she believes might have been the true character of Jane Austen and provides answers to questions like: Was Jane Austen ever in love? What occurred in those long years where she did not write?
What is unique about this novel is that it is told from Cassandra’s perspective and narrated through her voice. Cassandra’s story begins with Jane’s birth, which almost at the age of three, Cassandra has a slight memory of, and continues with her childhood, adulthood, and death. The relationship between Cassandra and Jane is filled with sisterly affection and intimacy. Ms. Pitkeathley portrays the wonderful candor between the two sisters and the dependence they had upon one another. However, Ms. Pitkeathley makes a point to show that the relationship between Cassandra and Jane was not a “picture of perfection.” While still maintaining that Cassandra and Jane meant the world to each other, Ms. Pitkeathley illustrates that there were times where jealousy, insecurities, and distance crept into their relationship. Moreover, she depicts our beloved Jane as having faults such as impatience and sometimes bitterness.