By Jill Pitkeathley
They have been loved sisters and the simplest of buddies. yet Jane and Cassandra Austen suffered a similar destiny as some of the girls in their period. pressured to spend their lives depending on family members, either financially and emotionally, the sisters spent their time jointly buying and selling secrets and techniques, difficult each one other's evaluations, and rehearsing in myriad alternative routes the household dramas that Jane may later convey to fruition in her renowned novels. for every sister suffered via painful romantic disappointments—tasting ardour, realizing nice love, after which wasting it—while the opposite stood witness. Upon Jane's dying, Cassandra intentionally destroyed her own letters, thereby ultimate the door to the non-public lifetime of the popular novelist . . . till now.
In Cassandra & Jane, writer Jill Pitkeathley ingeniously reimagines the original and intimate dating among notable siblings, reintroducing readers to at least one of the main fascinating figures on this planet of literature, as obvious during the eyes of the single one who knew her best.
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Extra resources for Cassandra and Jane
This too was written in the letter form which she seemed to like, but I did not see how anyone could possibly be expected to like her main character. True, she had the dash and confidence which I knew Jane admired and which reminded me so much of Eliza, but Lady Susan was simply wicked. She was a shameless flirt, she was heartless, without morals, and seemed to relish causing pain and upset. ” 30 jill pitk e athle y I suggested that she at least change the ending so that Lady Susan would be seen to suffer for her wickedness, but she would have none of it.
From her earliest years she “scribbled” as she put it so entertainingly. It was her habit to attribute talents to family members rather than to herself. She was always telling me what a brilliant artist I was, when in fact I have, and always had, a small talent. Our brothers too fancied themselves writers, especially James and Henry. In 1789, James edited and wrote a magazine called “The Loiterer” while he was at Oxford. Henry wrote for it too and it was published regularly and sold for sixpence.
Or perhaps it is just that an encouraging atmosphere can foster the talent. Equally important I should suppose must be the opportunity to hear the compositions of others and to be able to practice one’s own writings. This was certainly provided by my mother. She had a style of writing which was easy, full of wit and mimicry. She used it cleverly to encourage us all to write charades and riddles and taught us to enjoy rhyming games and songs. She sent one of her rhymes to Gilbert East, one of the pupils, when he failed to return to school after one summer holiday: Your Steventon friends Are at their wits end To know what is become of Squire East They very much fear He’ll never come here Having left then nine weeks at the least.