Cassandra’s Sister opens in revolutionary Paris as a young man is guillotined. In due time, his English widow, Eliza, makes her way to an English rectory, where her glamorous, tragic marriage and pragmatic outlook on life make a deep impression on one of her country cousins—the young Jane Austen, called Jenny by her family.
This quiet, often gently humorous, and elegantly written biographical novel tells the story of Jane Austen’s coming of age, both as a woman and as a writer. As Jane and her sister Cassandra go about their daily lives of social calls and occasional visits, suitors come and go for the sisters. Jane’s novels are started, completed, rejected, put away, and revised. As in a Jane Austen novel, a great deal happens without much seeming to happen at all. Jane Austen’s life influences her art—and, at a crucial moment, Jane Austen’s art will influence her life.
Intended for young adults, this novel doesn’t require a familiarity with Jane Austen’s own novels, but those who know at least some of them will probably find Cassandra’s Sister more enjoyable than those who are strangers to Austen. Older readers, Janeites and non-Janeites alike, are likely to find this novel to be a pleasant tea or cocoa companion as well.