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A wonderfully original, emotionally complex ‘reading-group’ novel, set in 1804 following Anne Sharp. A governess who became close to Jane Austen and her family, and the challenging \”upstairs downstairs\” dynamic she found herself enmeshed in.
FROM THE #1 BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF MISS AUSTEN
On the 21st January, 1804, Anne Sharpe arrives at Godmersham Park in Kent to take up the position of governess. At 31 years old, she has no previous experience of either teaching or fine country houses. Her mother has died, and she has nowhere else to go. Anne is left with no choice. For her new charge – twelve-year-old Fanny Austen – Anne’s arrival is all novelty and excitement.
The governess role is a uniquely awkward one. Anne is neither one of the servants, nor one of the family, and to balance a position between the ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ members of the household is a diplomatic chess game. One wrong move may result in instant dismissal. Anne knows that she must never let down her guard.
When Mr Edward Austen’s family comes to stay, Anne forms an immediate attachment to Jane. They write plays together, and enjoy long discussions. However, in the process, Anne reveals herself as not merely pretty, charming and competent; she is clever too. Even her sleepy, complacent mistress can hardly fail to notice.
Meanwhile Jane’s brother, Henry, begins to take an unusually strong interest in the lovely young governess . . .
And from now on, Anne’s days at Godmersham Park are numbered.
Praise for Miss Austen and Gill Hornby
‘The perfect book to wrap yourself around on a dark night’ STYLIST
‘The great joy of Miss Austen is that the reader feels immersed in a world that is convincingly Jane’s from the first page. Miss Austen is a novel of great kindness, often unexpectedly moving, with much to say about the status of \”invisible\” older women. Above all, it’s concerned with the triumph of small acts of goodness; you can’t help feeling that Jane would have approved.’ OBSERVER
‘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
‘This is a deeply imagined and deeply moving novel. Reading it made me happy and weepy in equally copious amounts.’
KAREN JOY FOWLER, author of The Jane Austen Bookclub
‘Hornby is at her best describing the complex bonds between the \”excellent women\” of her story. She describes the horrors, but also the pleasures, of spinsterhood’ THE TIMES
‘It won’t surprise me if this is one of the books of the year, it’s a delight, one of those that you don’t want to end.’ RTE
‘A charming novel… capturing the spirit of the brilliant sardonic Jane, and reminding the reader of how brutal life was for women in Austen’s era, it’s an ingenious and affecting embroidery on the fact of the author’s life.’ SUNDAY MIRROR
‘Fans of Pride and Prejudice and Emma will enjoy this touching story … In her meticulously researched third novel, Gill Hornby skillfully imagines the correspondence between the sisters.’ SUNDAY EXPRESS
‘Miss Austen is an ingenious imaginary explanationof how so many of Jane’s letters came to be destroyed… With flashbacks and wonderful domestic detail, Hornby brings to life the Austen family, using the known to speculate on what might have been.’ THE TIMES Audio Book of the Week
‘Extraordinary and heart-wrenching, Miss Austen transported me from page one. A remarkable novel that is wholly original, deeply moving, and emotionally complex. A gift to all Austen lovers.’
LARA PRESCOTT, author of The Secrets We Kept
‘Gill Hornby ingeniously imagines what Cassandra Austen’s own life might have been like, both before and after Jane’s untimely death, casting a different light on the familiar biographical picture without in any way distorting it.’ DEIRDRE LE FAYE, editor of Jane Austen’s Letters
‘Miss Austen is affecting, thought-provoking, and makes you think about both Jane and Cassandra Austen in a new light.’ HELENA KELLY, author of Jane Austen, The Secret Radical
‘A pitch perfect novel, fond and atmospheric. It reads as if Gill was born to write Cassandra’s story, and she brings her whole witty and sympathetic self to the task.’ KIRSTY WARK
‘Tender and touching … Hornby deftly describes the psychological toll that such uncertainly took on Jane, and movingly celebrates the fortitude of Cassandra whose greatest love was her sister’ DAILY MAIL
‘A moving, often funny novel. Richly imagined and spryly told, it reinstates overlooked Cassandra as the most important person in Jane’s life’ MAIL ON SUNDAY
‘Utterly absorbing. The lives of the Austen sisters are recreated with a brilliant sureness of touch that can only be achieved by deep study of the period.’ ARTEMIS COOPER
‘A wonderfully original, emotionally complex novel that delves into why Cassandra burned a treasure trove of letters written by her sister, Jane Austen’ IRISH EXAMINER
‘In this subtle and delicate novel, Gill Hornby has created a clever, warm-hearted character in Cassandra, Jane Austen’s sister’ WOMAN & HOME
‘People are going to love it, but I wonder if any screen adaptation will be able to convey the hidden treasure within this thoughtful story.’ LITERARY REVIEW
‘Engrossing … the warm relationship between the sisters is particularly well written.’ GOOD HOUSEKEEPING
Title: GODMERSHAM PARK
Author: HORNBY GILL
Publication date: 23/07/2022
Imprint: RANDOM HOUSE PEN