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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.
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.
“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.”
“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