Fiction Book Reviews

Historical Fiction | Miss Austen | Gill Hornby

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I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts with you today on Miss Austen by Gill Hornby.

Book cover for Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby is published by Century and is available to currently purchase in digital and hardcover format.

1840: twenty three years after the death of her famous sister Jane, Cassandra Austen returns to the village of Kintbury, and the home of her family’s friends, the Fowles.

She knows that, in some dusty corner of the sprawling vicarage, there is a cache of family letters which hold secrets she is desperate should not be revealed.

As Cassandra recalls her youth and her relationship with her brilliant yet complex sister, she pieces together buried truths about Jane’s history, and her own. And she faces a stark choice: should she act to protect Jane’s reputation? Or leave the contents of the letters to go unguarded into posterity …


You don’t have to be a Jane Austen fan to enjoy Miss Austen.  I found it easy to slip into a bygone age where the pace of life in a rural community was restful and the action is on an inner level rather than outward.

I thought the format of the story worked really well, Cass staying with Isabella after the death of her father as a pretext to finding the letters in Kintbury in 1840 whilst what she finds takes us back to the late 1700’s and her life with her family and her close relationship with sibling Jane. 

Characterisations are brilliant – Mary Austen raised my hackles every single time!  It will be interesting to see who is cast for the TV series.

The secrets are closely threaded through with Cass’ experiences through life and it’s working through those on an emotional level where she has her own epiphany.  Those realisations are the driving force behind the story (or they were for me anyway).  It was great to get a perspective on Cass.

I enjoyed taking a step back through time to a gentler pace of life.

Gill Hornby is the author of the novels The Hive and All Together Now, as well as The Story of Jane Austen, a biography of Austen for young readers. She lives in Kintbury, Berkshire, with her husband and their four children. Twitter: @GillHornby

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I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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