Sally Smith O'Rourke Returns to Coffee with Colette and a Tale of Two Sisters

Coffee with ColetteGood morning, dear readers! 
 I am honoured that fellow Austen Author Sally Smith O'Rourke has returned to join me for coffee today (I think maybe it's because my New Orleans coffee has chicory in it). You might recall that she stopped by Coffee with Colette a few months ago to tell us about her Pride and Prejudice-inspired time-traveling tale, Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen.  Today she has quite a different story to tell - about sisters and a special connection she feels to the Misses Austen. This is a rare and special post indeed!

Cassandra Austen was with her beloved sister to the end. Jane died cradled in her sister’s embrace. “I was able to close her eyes myself and it was a great gratification to me to render her these last services,” Cassandra wrote her niece, Fanny.

It isn’t possible for me to read Cassandra’s words and not think of the loss of my own sister. Unlike Cass I was not with Leslyn at the end. While I used pressing work and distance as my excuses, the truth was that I did not want to watch the life drain from her body.

I had hoped to see her one last time but waited too long. As I was off-loading my luggage at the airport the phone call came. Leslyn was gone and I had rendered no service.

We knew it was coming. Like Jane she wanted nothing but death. Unlike Jane it was Leslyn’s choice. At her insistence the machines were stopped and the intravenous tubes removed. It took only a matter of a few hours for her to breath her last.

We will never again giggle over a grainy batch of fudge, question why a cake fell. I still smile remembering the day we made two batches of fudge, same recipe, same ingredients, same stove, same kind of pans. Hers was grainy, but mine was smooth. We won’t plan family parties anymore; we’ve certainly done our share of weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. We won’t spend hours on the phone speaking of little nothings. No more doll shopping or antiquing. My sister is gone. No more tea breaks, the Constant Comment has been put away. Her favorite tea mug sits in my cupboard.

I can only imagine Cassandra’s grief. Of Jane she wrote, “She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow. I had not a thought concealed from her and it is as if I had lost a part of myself.”

As always Cassandra was stoic in the face of such a tragedy. She was comforted she said that God had granted Jane peace by ending her suffering some ten hours before she ceased to breath. Although I suspect that Mr.Lyford’s ministrations that evening may have had something to do with Jane being able to drift off quietly.

Silhouette of Sally and Leslyn
At Winchester Cathedral she was laid to rest; an architectural master piece in which Jane took particular delight. Of the funeral party Cass wrote, “Never was a human being more sincerely mourned by those who attended her remains than was this dear creature.”

As Cassandra said of Jane and I shall say of Leslyn, “Such a sister, such a friend as never can have been surpassed. I have lost a treasure.”

So today, the seventy-first anniversary of her birth I celebrate her life.

Sally Smith O'Rourke is the acclaimed author of The Man Who Loved Jane Austen and Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen. 
You can stay in touch with here here: (the everything Austen site)


Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen Audiobook

 This offbeat love story is immediately engaging. Sheer escapism at its best. Clever, charming and affectionate. Jocelyn Bury of Jane Austen’s Regency World

 In Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, author Sally Smith O’Rourke creates a compelling story that is a truly unique idea, one that captivated this reader until the very last page.  Meg Massey for Luxury Reading

…the reader must tenaciously read on rather than put the book down to satisfy their hunger for the story to resolve, which it does in characteristically Jane Austen fashion. Erin Murdock for InD’tale Magazine
Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is a delightful and sweet story. Kinx’s Book Nook
I have finished Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen and really liked it. Your books are imaginative and very different. Your ideas are new and fresh and endearing. Well done!
Ann Channon, House Manager; Jane Austen’s House Museum

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, what a delight it was to read.

I thought this book was a fun little diversion for the Jane Austen fan! Definitely worth a read, makes a great weekend book!

Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is a delighful read and is not to be missed. Read it with joy and expectation! Amy


  1. I am so sorry for your loss, and wish you'd been able to have time with her.

    As Cassandra said of Jane and I shall say of Leslyn, “Such a sister, such a friend as never can have been surpassed. I have lost a treasure.

    Perfect quote. *hugs*

  2. Lovely and touching post, Sally. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us. Love the mug! I have a similar one that I had given to my mother. I have quite a collection of mugs as they are one of my 'loves'.


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