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Miss Austen

Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
Length: 10 hrs and 57 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

Non-member price: $39.50

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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

A wonderfully original, emotionally complex novel that delves into why Cassandra burned a treasure trove of letters written by her sister, Jane Austen – an act of destruction that has troubled academics for centuries.

1840: 23 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.... 

Based on a literary mystery that has long puzzled biographers and academics, Miss Austen is a wonderfully original and emotionally complex novel about the loves and lives of Cassandra and Jane Austen.

©2020 Gill Hornby (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Without romanticising its period setting or underplaying the precariousness of any woman’s position in this society, it celebrates unexamined lives, sisterhood and virtues such as kindness and loyalty." (Sunday Times)

"The perfect book to wrap yourself around on a dark night." (STYLIST)

"So good, so intelligent, so clever, so entertaining - I adored it." (Claire Tomalin)

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A must for lovers of Jane Austen

Highly recommend this book if you enjoy Jane Austen's work. it's a treat. A family tree would help!

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  • Whistling Woman
  • 06-03-2020

Loved, loved, loved it

I steamed through this book in 2 sick days, letting Juliet Stevenson's always-wonderful narration carry me away to the late 18th/early 19th century. Gill Hornby has the Austenesque knack of making the tiny domestic sphere endlessly fascinating through the personalities of those who inhabit it. The story, from Cassandra Austen's point of view, is told in flashback and Hornby's Jane is not always the demure and ladylike figure one might expect or one that is necessarily easy to live with, but she is very very human. This is a book about women at a time when men held every bit of power and I recognise them, so will you for surely human nature doesn't change so very much. We all know the women who do the caring, and the ones who *think* they do while they sit on the sofa drinking tea, the women we giggle with and the women we avoid at Christmas parties. They are all here in this book, bonnets and reticules notwithstanding, and so are laughter, tears and a really absorbing story. Thank you so much. I expect to listen to this many times.

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  • Carrie-Anne Lavender
  • 09-07-2020

Austen herself would be proud

What an exquisitely enjoyable book. The writing was beautiful and Austenesque with excellent eccentric characters and believable and realistic portrayals of Jane and Cassandra. Juliet Stevenson's narration was impeccable and gave life to the characters within. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  • Vaan
  • 08-06-2020

Only for Austen lovers

One view of why the correspondence was destroyed. Brought the family to life but I prefer to read Jane!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-06-2020

Sometimes exasperating!

Juliet Stevenson does a very good job narrating this book!

The subject matter, period and genre of the book doesn’t lead you to expect fast pace action, but even so, the pace can be quiet tedious at times, or one feels exasperated with the weakness of “dearest” Cassandra.
It made the actual books of Jane Austen even more exciting and page turning!

Certainly the smallness of lives of this period was evoked and certainly listening to it in Lockdown mirrored the period!

In the end if you are interested in “Austen”, this story is another idea and dimensions to consider, what if .. fiction and facts mixed together. Like all Austen it all ends quite “nicely” happily ever after!

I’ve been to the house, in Winchester where JA died, it’s a private home, and is not the awful place that is described here.

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  • Grandma- Gateshead
  • 12-05-2020

Perfect in every way for overs of Jane Austen

Juliet Stevenson is a wonderful narrator of this delightful imagining of Jane and her sister Cassandras life together. It is couched in Jane's style to a great extent and full of well researched detail. A joy.

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  • Mrs Kay Smele
  • 26-04-2020

A delightful story

A delightful story really well written and beautifully read by Juliette Stevenson who never fails to bring Jane Austen’s prose to life - similarly with this book , it has the same familiar rhythm. Thank you both .

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  • Roy
  • 29-03-2020

Continues the style of the Austin stories

Not the kind of book I normally listen to, and enjoyed the change. Definitely in the style of the Austin books. It's a good story, I want to know which bits actually happened.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-03-2020

Pitch Perfect and the private story that rings true to me.

Not as rich and witty a storyteller as Jane Austen, but as Casandra’s story, it rings true. Written with a love and respect that can hold no fears for those who cherish the work and life of Jane Austen.

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  • Victoria Corby
  • 11-02-2020

Very, very enjoyable.

Superb narration, as ever by Juliet Stevenson. Good story, very atmospheric and Gill Hornby seemed to catch Jane Austen's tone perfectly in the letters.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-02-2020

Absolute delight

What a wonderful book... so beautifully read by Juliet Stevenson. Such love for the female characters by the author... such insight into the strengths and weaknesses we all have. Made me feel so proud of the main female characters in the book. Loved it.