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Fresh from great Sunday Times review Gill Hornby talks about new Austen novel in Hungerford tonight

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With glowing praise from the Times and Sunday Times at the weekend, Kintbury author Gill Hornby will be in conversation about her new Austen novel Godmersham Park with author of Jane Austen, the Secret Radical Helena Kelly at The Herongate Club, Hungerford, tonight (Tuesday).

The event, in Independent Bookshop Week, has been organised by Hungerford Bookshop

Gill's previous Austen nove Miss Austen, which was set in Kintbury and based on Jane and her sister Cassandra, became a number one bestseller and was one of the best novels of the year according to The Times and Observer. Now the Kintbury author returns to that Regency world in her new highly-anticipated novel Godmersham Park (published by Century on June 23).

Godmersham Park
Godmersham Park

Again Hornby uses authentic sources to inspire her story – this time a diary written by Fanny Austen (Jane’s niece) and tells the story of Anne Sharp, the lifelong friend of Jane Austen.

It’s January1804 and 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. But her mother has died and she desperately needs an independent income if she is to survive. For her new charge, 12-year-old Fanny Austen, Anne’s arrival is all novelty and excitement. But Anne is keenly aware that her new role is an awkward one; she 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 her instant dismissal. She has just begun to settle into her position when dashing Henry Austen and his younger sister Jane come to stay.

Gill Hornby
Gill Hornby

Both take an immediate interest in the pretty, clever governess who quickly becomes drawn into the above stairs life of the Austen family.

Despite her best endeavours, Anne finds that she is beginning to fall in love. But has her survival at Godmersham Park just become a good deal more precarious?

Attendees at tonight's event will be among the first in the country to get their hands on a copy. Gill will be answering questions and signing copies afterwards. Tickets can be booked through the bookshop www.hungerfordbookshop.co.uk or by calling (01488) 683480.

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