On the cover of May, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen’s Nieces in Ireland, the subjects of this biography are shown in silhouette against a background of the drawing room in Godmersham. Here, as the daughters of Edward (Austen) Knight, they grew up and knew their famous aunt well, reading and sewing with them as they grew up. Their letters and diaries give some charming views of Jane and of cheerful family life and Sophia also uses their life stories to connect with and follow other Austen-Knight generations.Marianne, Louisa and Cassandra Knight – May, Lou and Cass – were Jane Austen’s nieces. The subjects of her witty letters, they were still young girls when Jane died in 1817. Yet, had she lived, she would have seen them live out the plots of her famous novels. Handsome noblemen, dashing officers and penurious clergymen sought her nieces’ hands; just like Austen’s cherished heroines, they knew well the pains of blighted love and the joy of patience rewarded and they also knew the sorrow of losing their childhood home. Yet even Jane Austen could not have imagined that her genteel nieces would find themselves in Ireland, a land riven with famine and land wars. How did these three young gentlewomen come to live so far from Jane Austen’s ordered, mannered Regency England? Dr Hillan’s well researched and well written work is indisputably absorbing. With much to learn of Jane Austen herself, as well as of the three very likable nieces and their links to many of her family, this book holds great appeal for Austen fans. – Taken from JASA’s journal, Sensibilities (Dec 2012).