Jill Pitkeathley’s Cassandra and Jane is a fictional account of Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra, Jane’s dearest friend and closest confidant. The novel is written as a memoir, the events of the sisters’ lives told through the eyes of Cassandra. Those familiar with Jane Austen’s life know that after Jane’s death Cassandra deliberately destroyed most of the letters written by Jane thereby leaving little record of the life and times of one of the world’s most beloved novelists. In her novel, Pitkeathley carefully blends the facts with her fiction in a compelling story of Jane Austen’s life as it may have been.
Jane’s story is not a happy one. Both she and Cassandra were at one time engaged to be married, yet in a day and age when marriage was essential for a woman’s financial security, both end up living with their mother on little or no income, with a meager social status, and dependent on the charity of their relatives. Pitkeathley draws compelling parallels between the sometimes difficult circumstances of Jane’s life and the events she creates in her own novels. In fact, one of the things I enjoyed most about the novel was Pitkeathley’s use of many of the phrases Austen employed in her novels.
Not too long ago, I read and loved Just Jane by Nancy Moser, also a fictionalized account of Jane Austen, and naturally I found myself comparing the two novels. I assumed since the story lines would be similar, and they were, I would prefer one over the other. Not so. Just Jane is more narrative while Cassandra and Jane is more reflective. Both are completely enjoyable!
You can browse inside the novel here.
Wife and mother, Bible teacher and blogger, Lisa loves Jesus, coffee, dark chocolate and, of course, books. Read more of her reflections at Lisa writes….