Aug 092013

The Mysterious Death of Miss Jane AustenThe Untold Secrets of the Austen Family 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Publisher

Illicit liaisons, illegitimate children, sinister murders, scandalous secrets – things you would never associate with the Austen family, right? Can you imagine the quiet, country family from Hampshire embroiled with secrets of adultery and murder? Could you give any credence to the theory that Jane Austen’s death was not from natural causes?

Our protagonist, Anne Sharp, can! Twenty-six years after Jane Austen’s death, Anne (former governess to Fanny Knight) sends a lock of Jane’s hair to be scientifically examined. When the results show an abnormally high amount of arsenic in Jane Austen’s person at the time of her death, Anne must decide whether or not she wants to investigate the matter further. Should she share the private memoir she recorded of Jane Austen and their friendship? Should she expose the deep and dark secrets of the Austen family? Should she expose her own secrets? Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

Jun 072010

A Difficult Decision for Louisa May Alcott

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon Vine

For a twenty-two year old woman living in the year 1855, the options of what she could do with her life were limited. Besides marrying and raising a family, working as teacher, governess, or seamstress were some of the few acceptable occupations for women. But for Louisa May Alcott, none of these professions enlivened her spirit or ignited her passion like the dream of being a published writer.

The summer of 1855 brought a lot of change to Louisa’s life. Because of her family’s poverty and their father’s unwillingness to find work, both Louisa and her older sister Anna were planning to escape from the arduous and overwrought life of their family. Anna’s plans were more conventional, she hoped to marry and start her own family. But Louisa long ago decided that love and marriage had no place in her life as she was determined to be a writer. In fact, Louisa was planning to depart from her family that very summer, and travel to Boston where she could rent a room and write her stories. What Louisa didn’t count on is meeting a charming young man who would change her resolutions about love and marriage. Continue reading »