Dearest Cousin Jane: A Jane Austen Novel

( 8 )

Overview

In Dearest Cousin Jane, an enchanting new novel that draws on historical fact, Jill Pitkeathley paints a luminous portrait of the true-life cousin of a literary legend—from her flirtatious younger years to her profound influence on one of the world's most beloved authors.

Free-spirited and seductive—outrageous, precocious, and a well-known flirt—Countess Eliza de Feuillide has an unquenchable thirst for life and a glamorous air that captivates everyone around her. Rumored to ...

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Dearest Cousin Jane: A Jane Austen Novel

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Overview

In Dearest Cousin Jane, an enchanting new novel that draws on historical fact, Jill Pitkeathley paints a luminous portrait of the true-life cousin of a literary legend—from her flirtatious younger years to her profound influence on one of the world's most beloved authors.

Free-spirited and seductive—outrageous, precocious, and a well-known flirt—Countess Eliza de Feuillide has an unquenchable thirst for life and a glamorous air that captivates everyone around her. Rumored to have been born of a mad love affair between her mother and the great Warren Hastings of the East India Company, Eliza sees the world as her playground—filled with grand galas, theater, and romance—and she will let nothing hold her down. Even tragedy cannot dim her enthusiasm. Losing her only child at an early age and widowed when her husband—the dashing French count Jean de Feuillide—is claimed by Madame la Guillotine during the dark days of the Reign of Terror, Eliza is determined to remain indomitable, unpredictable, and unfettered. And it is this passionate spirit that she brings to a simple English country parsonage to influence the life, the work, and the world of her unsuspecting cousin . . . a quiet and unassuming young writer named Jane Austen.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Library Journal
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Ruth Rendell
“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.”
Janet Aylmer
“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.”
Library Journal
A single, penniless woman must be in want of a rich husband. Or maybe not. Pitkeathley's second Austen novel based on historical facts (after Cassandra and Jane) traces the life of Austen's vivacious and audacious older first cousin, Eliza. The story of Eliza's life begins with her supposed conception in India during a love affair between her married mother and Warren Hastings, later governor-general of India. Years later, Eliza marries a French count and gains the title of Countess Eliza de Feuillide. But during the French Revolution, while Eliza is visiting relatives in England with her young son, her husband is arrested and summarily executed. Two of Austen's brothers vie for her hand in marriage and ultimately Henry, Austen's favorite, wins. Eliza's captivating life is traced through distinct first-person narratives and letters by Eliza, various Austen family members, and, of course, Jane herself. VERDICT Highly recommended for Jane Austen aficionados, who are afforded an entertaining and enlightening look into the people and events that influenced Austen's life and her timeless novels. [Ebook edition: ISBN 978-0-06-198617-8. ]—Susan O. Moritz, Montgomery Cty. P.L.s, MD
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061875984
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/23/2010
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Jill Pitkeathley was born in the Channel Islands of the United Kingdom. The former chief executive of the Carers National Association (now Carers UK), she is a Life Peer in the House of Lords, a longtime Austen fan, and the author of the novel Cassandra and Jane. She lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Misleading Title

    The book is not about Jane Austen, but rather her cousin Eliza de Feuillide (later Austen). If a book is called 'Dearest Cousin Jane', shouldn't it be about someone named Jane? It should've been called 'Dearest Cousin Eliza', but then I doubt it would garner as much interest. I've read a few historical accounts of Jane Austen's family, and her cousin Eliza was an important figure in Jane's life. They were close like sisters, in spite of the difference in their ages. I was familiar with a lot of the events that happen in this book - Eliza's childhood in France, the beheading of Eliza's first husband, her acceptance of Henry Austen's proposal after years of him trying to win her - so it wasn't too confusing reading them from the various first-person perspectives Pitkeathley employs throughout. The book is broken up into three parts - Eliza as a child, Eliza married to the Comte de Feuillide, and Eliza married to Jane's brother Henry. The story of Eliza unfolds as a series of journal entries, and sometimes letters, from various members of the Austen family, incuding Rev. George Austen, Philadelphia Austen Hancock, Cassandra Austen and Jane Austen herself. Many chapters are narrated by Eliza as well. I enjoyed this book for the most part, but because there are so many different narrators, I found myself often forgetting who was narrating a particular chapter...and I'd have to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to see who it was. 'Dearest Cousin Jane' might be interesting to those who wish to read about Jane Austen's extended family, but not so much for those who want more focus on the authoress.

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