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Dearest Cousin Jane: A Jane Austen Novel Paperback – March 23, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061875988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061875984
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,259,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jane Austen, along with her family, once again feature prominently in Pitkeathley's latest romantic, meticulously researched period melodrama. This time around, Austen's glamorous cousin Countess Eliza de Feuillide (once known as simply Betsy) takes center stage. Suggesting that Eliza made a significant impression on Jane's development as an author, Pitkeathley depicts a spirited woman who certainly made an impact on the entire Austen clan, as well as stole her share of hearts, including her first husband Jean Capot, the Comte de Feuillide, who was guillotined in 1794. Pitkeathley (Cassandra and Jane) explores several impressions of Eliza, who ultimately married Jane's brother Henry, through the various perspectives Austen family members; while Jane's is naturally appealing, Eliza's viewpoint is far more fascinating, especially as she worries about her impending death from breast cancer.
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“A well-researched and beautifully imagined novel. I loved Jill Pitkeathley’s delicate hand and lightness of touch. . . . If Jane and the Austen family were not quite like this, they should have been.” (Ruth Rendell)

“This novel brings a new and enjoyable dimension to our knowledge of Jane Austen’s life and work, and the extended family that was so significant in her development as a author.” (Janet Aylmer, author of Darcy's Story)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
In 1787, Jane's mother expresses her concurs to her husband Mr. Austen about the behavior of his niece Countess Eliza de Feuillde whom she calls Betsy as she did before the aristocratic marriage. He insists she is just having fun with her flirting with their two sons James and Henry. However, Mrs. Austen complains that her seductive airs send the wrong behavioral message to fifteen years old Cassandra and especially twelve years old Jane who carefully watches her older cousin's antics.

Eliza Hancock came to Paris in 1780. There she met the Comte and married him. They had a child Hastings whose health is poor and soon after their stay in England with her paternal uncle's family, he dies. Not long after that Eliza's spouse is guillotined. Even in mourning, Eliza still teases the men especially Jane's brothers; playing them against each other while Jane watches in fascination and her mom disapproves.

By using a young Jane's real cousin who had an apparent scandalous reputation, Jill Pitkeathley provides a fresh look at the influences on the author before Miss Austen became the novelist. For fans of biographical fiction and of course anyone who wants more Austen in their diet, Dearest Cousin Jane is a super repast as this is an enjoyable invigorating look at the extended family through the impact of the notorious cousin.

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary J. Gramlich VINE VOICE on April 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
There are so many stories written about the complexities of Jane Austen and her life but not as many about the people in her life. Specifically her family and the influence they held in all of her motivation to be a writer and how the stories were written.

This book is about one of the colorful and charismatic characters that filled Jane's thoughts and her life by leading the kind of life Jane would write about. Countess Eliza de Feuillide was Jane's cousin who later became her sister-in-law but the story that leads up to that event is filled with wild tales and wonderful adventures. Eliza traveled, married, became a widow and raised a child all the while flirting and seducing her way around the globe. Her involvement with Jane's beloved brother Henry while at some points a bit of an issue finds its resolution in love and romance.

This book takes an interesting turn on revealing details about a person who has been written about so frequently - Jane Austen. It is nice to have her relationship explored and delved into more deeply because what make us whole is the pieces that we bring with us from other people and how they touch our lives.

Mary Gramlich is The Reading Reviewer located at [...]
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Charmaine Anderson on April 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am a Jane Austen junkie and couldn't resist this book. I enjoyed it but it isn't for everyone. I think you need to be an Austen aficionado to have the patience for a book like this. Evidentally Jane Austen had a nortorious cousin, Eliza Hancock, believed to have influenced Jane's writing. Eliza married a French count and after his death Jane's brother, 10 years her junior. Eliza's social escapades and extravagances were often in question. Her life and colorful character was entwined with the Austen family for most of Jane's life. The book has no plot. Each chapter is a first person account of an Austen family member including Jane, her sister Cassandra, her mother, Eliza, Jane's brothers, some of Jane's cousins and a sister in law. Some of the story is told in letters from one of these family members to another. It is a choppy way to write a story but I did enjoy learning about the interactions and movings of her family. I feel like I have a good understanding of the family dynamics that surrounded Jane's life and writing. It is fiction based loosley on knowledge of the real family.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Austen lover on April 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the story of Eliza Austen, the Comtesse, but it was confusing at times with the change of narrator. The book is based on letters or narratives from Austen family members including Jane herself, Eliza, her mother, Jane's mother, etc., following Eliza from prior to her birth until her death. Mary Austen and Philly Walters are catty and judgemental, which ironically are their character traits in other JA fiction such as the S. Barron's JA mysteries. I have not read other author's use Eliza as a protagonist, using Janer herself for her imagined life. The premise that Eliza affected Jane's writing is plausable and well done. Overall, this was an enjoyable read.
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