This week I'm taking my opening from Cassandra & Jane: A Jane Austen Novel by Jill Pitkeathley.
Chawton, October 1843
I have kept everyone of the letters that Jane wrote to me. I have read them all now and sorted them into two piles. At first, I stored them in my lacquered box and later, after her death, I transferred them to her rosewood trunk.The two piles are those Cassandra intends to burn and those she intends to keep.
They were beloved sisters and the best of friends. But Jane and Cassandra Austen suffered the same fate as many of the women of their era. Forced to spend their lives dependent on relatives, both financially and emotionally, the sisters spent their time together trading secrets, challenging each other's opinions, and rehearsing in myriad other ways the domestic dramas that Jane would later bring to fruition in her popular novels. For each sister suffered through painful romantic disappointments - tasting passion, knowing great love, and then losing it - while the other stood witness. Upon Jane's death, Cassandra deliberately destroyed her personal letters, thereby closing the door to the private life of the renowned novelist . . . until now.
In Cassandra & Jane, author Jill Pitkeathley ingeniously reimagines the unique and intimate relationship between two extraordinary siblings, reintroducing readers to one of the most intriguing figures in the world of literature, as seen through the eyes of the one person who knew her best.