Cassandra and Jane by Jill Pitkeathley
Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra were the only two daughters in their family and neither of them married, resulting in a life-long close relationship between the two. “Cassandra and Jane” is told from Cassandra’s point of view, after Jane’s death as Cassandra is looking through the letters they exchanged and looking back over their lives together.
For someone who knew little to nothing about Jane Austen’s life, “Cassandra and Jane” was very informative. It imbued me with a new-found desire to go and read the rest of Austen’s books (particularly since all I have read is “Pride and Prejudice”). In this sense, it is fantastic for the casual Austen-devotee. I think, however, it is something that would be more enjoyed by Austen fantatics. As I was not already deeply invested in Jane, I did not enjoy the book as much as I might otherwise have. I had more of an “oh, that’s interesting” attitude than a desire to delve deep into the lives of Jane and Cassandra.
If you are so-so about Jane Austen, I doubt you’ll enjoy this book. If you enjoy her but are not a super-fan, you’ll enjoy the book, but you needn’t run out to read it. However, if you adore Jane Austen, I think that you will definitely want to read this well-written account of what Cassandra and Jane’s relationship may have been like.
Pitkeathley obviously has done her homework and clearly has great fondness for Austen and her work. Even if you yourself are not an Austen fan, “Cassandra and Jane” could make a lovely Christmas present for the Austen addict in your life.