Sister of the more famous Jane, Cassandra Austen emerges as a figure in her own right, a woman who, although disappointed in love, finds fulfillment in her devotion to her sister, both in her lifetime and beyond.
Miss Austen, Gill Hornby’s well-researched, slyly barbed historical novel, is a worthy addition, sure to enthrall Janeites ... Like Austen’s cunning social satires, Hornby’s novel works on multiple levels. On the surface, it’s the story of a smart, attractive Regency woman who, after the death of her fiancé, resigns herself to spinsterhood and a financially straitened life whose gratifications rest in being dutifully useful ... On another level, it’s a vivid portrait of Austen and her family...with entertainingly acid commentary ... there’s lots of courtship drama, but Hornby has slyly inverted the marriage plot and the notion that for a story to end happily, it must end in a betrothal ... Miss Austen continues to twist and turn deliciously to expose the dangers of blindly promoting one’s own idea of utopia, whether married or single, 'as the only true happiness.'
... a touching and exceptionally well-researched fictionalized account of Cassandra Austen’s life, both before and after her famous sister’s death ... In Miss Austen, Gill Hornby has created an exceptionally entertaining addition to the Jane Austen legacy. In this exciting new interpretation of historical fiction, fans of the genre will not be disappointed and undoubtably cheer the opportunity to revisit the grandeur and anguish of the extended Austen family. With poignant intricacy and unique perspective, Hornby gives a voice to and brings to life an extraordinarily charming adaptation of one the most overlooked and most important people in Jane Austen’s life, her older sister Cassandra.
... a delightfully astute reimagining of Jane Austen’s life that offers a shrewd take on Regency gender roles and the less period-specific anxieties of authorship ... Ms. Hornby enlivens the exhumation with inspired touches of social comedy and a cast of appealing eccentrics ... Given all these strengths, it’s a shame that Ms. Hornby’s ear sometimes lets her down. Miss Austen is scattered with anachronisms...and even the odd grammatical howler ... When Ms. Hornby gets it right, though, she’s so good that you forget which century you’re in.