Jun 212010

Cassandra Austen Tells All!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Purchased

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.

What a delightful and illuminating biographical fiction novel! While some aspects of Jane Austen’s life and family history were already familiar to me, there was still plenty for me discover and learn in this novel. I greatly enjoyed how the author inferred Jane Austen’s feelings and thoughts about the events in her life and found myself in complete agreement with her conjectures. I do believe that with three sister-in-laws who died in the midst of or as the result of childbirth that it is completely natural to assume that Jane Austen would be a little frightened of the danger of having children. In addition, I find it very reasonable that with the move to Bath, her father’s death, their looming financial predicaments, and her acceptance/rejection of Harris Bigg Wither’s marriage proposal that Jane Austen would go through a period of depression that would forestall her writing.

One aspect of this novel I took pleasure in was observing the connections and similarities between Jane Austen and many of her character creations. Through this novel I was able to imagine her as a Marianne Dashwood when she was young and in love with Tom Lefory, a satirical Elizabeth Bennet with her biting wit, and perhaps a little bit of a Charlotte Lucas when she contemplated a marriage of convenience. I was also able to observe how Cassandra was the inspiration for Jane’s quieter and gentler characters such as Jane Bingley and Elinor Dashwood. I think Ms. Pitkeathley did a marvelous job of re-imagining and rendering the personalities of these sisters. There is no way of knowing how accurate she is, but I found her interpretations and assumptions to be viable and well-supported. Occasionally there was a moment where I felt that Jane was a little too harsh or self-absorbed and Cassandra a little too insecure, but those were few and far between.

If you are interested in Jane Austen’s missing correspondence and the relationship between Jane and Cassandra Austen, or if you are enamored with all these biographical fiction novels that have recently been in vogue, Cassandra and Jane is a novel you will not want to miss! I cannot get enough of these bio-fic novels, I have loved each one I have had the good fortune to come across! I eagerly anticipate reading Jill Pitkeathley’s newest novel, Dearest Cousin Jane (published in March 2010), as I am curious to learn more about Jane Austen’s lively and independence-loving cousin, Eliza de Feuillide, and her influence on Jane Austen’s life and writing.


GIVEAWAY TIME!!! In honor of Book Rat’s magnificent Jane in June event I am giving away a NEW copy of Cassandra and Jane to one lucky reader!

You can enter this international giveaway by leaving a comment on this post WITH your email address.

*To have your name entered twice, become a follower of my blog (if you are already a follower, please let me know)

**To have your name entered three times, post, sidebar, facebook, or tweet about this giveaway (please provide a link to let me know if you did this).

This giveaway will end June 30th. Thank you for entering and best of luck!!!

Follow My Reviews!

No spam guarantee.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )

  44 Responses to “Cassandra and Jane – Jill Pitkeathley (Review + Giveaway)”


    This is such a wonderful review! It makes me want to read the book very much. Thanks for sharing!

    I am your follower and my e-mail adress is: sladicirena@gmail.com


    Great review! And thank you for making this awesome giveaway international! 🙂

    Giada M.

    fabgiada (at) gmail (dot) com


    Forgot to mention I’m a blog follower.


    Wow, this is wonderful!
    I am follower and I announced it at Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000432307938&v=wall&story_fbid=132407923454225), Twitter (http://twitter.com/cariito4e/status/16713574299) & my blog’s right sidebar (caroexlibris.blogspot.com).



    Great review, and thanks for making the giveaway international. 🙂
    I am, of course, a follower. 🙂



    This sounds like a great book! Count me in.

    donnyandshelly at yahoo dot com


    I am a follower of your blog via Google.

    donnyandshelly at yahoo dot com


    This book seems really interesting.
    Thank you for the opportunity.



    I love all things Austen so please count me in for this one!!


    Oh! And I’m a follower of you blog


    Please count me in Meredith!
    My email is: novembersautumn at me dot com
    I’m a followers of your blog and have RTed your tweet regarding the giveaway on twitter. 🙂


    Oh, I’d love to read this book. It sounds very engaging. faridamestek@yahoo.com


    I’d love to read it , Meredith!
    Please, enter me too. Thanks for making it international.
    +1 I’m a “devoted” follower of course
    +1 just Tweeted (http://twitter.com/SMaryG/statuses/16752101974)



    This sounds so good! Please, enter me, if you will!

    I’m an old follower 🙂 +1

    My email address is countrygirl922@verizon.net


    I am ashamed of myself, Meredith! I missed this review yesterday and posted my own, rather snippy one today. You did far more justice to the work, while I just got my feathers ruffled. I think I’ll post a link to your review in my post, so as to direct readers to a less prejudices perspective.


    I really enjoyed this novel as well – great review!


    Thanks Meredith for a great review. Makes me want to read it too. And thanks for making this an international giveaway. I observe that it is seldom that you hold it for worldwide readers.

    I’m a follower and blog about this contest at http://gentlemadhouse.blogspot.com/2010/06/jane-in-june-event-and-contests.html

    email is evangelineace2020(at)yahoo(dot)com


    Yum! Yum! Thanks for the giveaway!

    **I’m a follower

    **Here’s my tweet:


    Laura Hartness
    The Calico Critic
    CalicoCritic at gmail dot com


    Sign me up! I’m already a follower.



    Incredible review, as always, Meredith! Sounds like a really great read – – and the cover is just gorgeous!

    I would love to be entered and I already follow. Thanks for the opportunity!

    ~ Lori (mrshedgy@yahoo.com)


    Wonderful review!

    Email: bugs9@hotmail.com


    I’ve heard this book was pretty good, but you’ve convinced me that fresh ground is covered and covered well.

    >I found her interpretations and assumptions to be viable and well-supported.

    That’s all I ask for!

    Enter me thrice as I am a follower and tweeted.


    Loved your review. Enter me:melarsen57@comcast.net


    From your review it sounds like a worthwhile read so please enter me in the giveaway.

    I have joined as a Follower.


    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com


    I loved the book as well. I also enjoyed your review, so concise as well as heartwarming.


    awesome. would love to read this.
    vvb32 at yahoo.com


    Thanks for the review! Sounds like a winner!



    thanks for the giveaway, your review makes me really wanna read this!

    allison.dayle at gmail.com


    Sold! You made me want to read it really bad 😛 Please, count me in!

    +1 New follower
    +2 Tweet: http://twitter.com/Entre_Libros/status/17139463366

    Thank you! Wish me luck!
    entrelibros_blog at hotmail.com


    Great review!

    I am a follower


    You definitely make me want to read this book – NOW! Fantastic, in-depth review. Oh, how I love Austen-related books 😀

    +1 I New follower
    +2 Tweeted: http://twitter.com/shy8629/status/17140216674

    Thank you! Hope I’m the lucky one 😀



    I love Austen-related books, too 🙂

    +1 new follower



    Hi, I would love a copy of this book!

    Thank you for the opportunity to win. 🙂



    I’ve read a few of Jane Austen books and related books too, thanks to Misty for her brilliant Jane in June. Reading the review of this book is truly amusing to know Cassandra and her sister Jane.Would love to read this!

    – new follower
    – twitted here http://twitter.com/darlyn5/status/17153700111

    darlyn225 at gmail dot com

    thanks for a chance to win this book!


    I am loving Jane in June! It’s given me a chance to connect with other Jane fans and follow new blogs. I love your blog and am happy to now be a follower! I would love to be entered into this contest. My email is shells629@gmail.com


    Thank you for the contest!!

    +1 I’m a new follower 🙂

    inthehammockblog at gmail dot com


    Please enter me.

    I’m a follower!

    meredithfl at gmail dot com


    Sounds really interesting. Please enter me.



    Count me in! I’m a follower:)



    This sounds like a wonderful addition to a an Austenite Library.

    I’m a follower
    I tweeted
    I posted to my sidebar




    Hi, Meredith! Thank you for making this giveaway international. =)

    +1 E-mail address: altaemoeniaRomae [at] Gmail [dot] com
    +1 New Follower! =)
    +1 Sidebar post: http://shreddedcheddar.blogspot.com/


    Marcie.turner@yahoo.com +1
    New follower +1
    @2readornot2read twitter +1


    This book sounds lovely! I would love to read it! Thank you so much for making this giveaway international!

    +1 tweeted here: http://twitter.com/Stella_ExLibris/status/17340987667
    +1 I posted on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000899165880&v=wall&story_fbid=109141139135207&ref=mf
    +1 e-mail: stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

    Thank you! 🙂

Your conversation and participation are always welcome; please feel free to "have your share."