Book Review: Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

Title:  Jane of Austin
Author: Hillary Manton Lodge
Publisher: Waterbrook & Multnomah
Release Date:  June 13, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Classic Retelling

“Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience - or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.”―Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected—Texas. 

In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn't so far away.

Jane of Austin. How could a Jane Austen fan not pick this one up, solely based on the title and the tagline of "A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility." Jane Austen fan, checked. Tea lover? Checked. And did you take a look at that cover?!! If there are any cover awards out there, yes, Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge will take a prize. And now we must have a little chat about what's inside the book.

Retellings are hard. Retellings of widely loved classics are even harder. I commend the author for doing so. I think I would enjoy this much more if I could separate it from the classic. Since I knew going in it was based on Sense and Sensibility, I was hoping to have a story with influences of it, but mostly with the author's own spin. However, what I can see is a story that is very much Sense and Sensibility in plot sequence, down to the romantic outcome, but without a story that stands on its own. It's just in modern day Austin.  Don't get me wrong. I think the writing is lovely and I enjoyed the tea shop talks and the recipes. If it didn't have to follow in the mold of S&S, I think there's something definitely brewing in terms of development for the characters. Jane is a likable character at first. She has such strength when things around are falling apart in the beginning. It gets inconsistent midway towards the end. I would think someone with such tenacity would be able to withstand romantic woes, especially if the guy in question is fairly new in her life? Yet she spirals down a depressed state.

With all said, Jane of Austin have such promise, and I think for some readers (and fans of Sense & Sensibility) will find this take refreshing. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.

For my review policy, please see my Disclosure page.



Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of Plain Jayne, a Carol Award Finalist, and Simply Sara, an ECPA bestselling book. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate magazine. A storyteller at heart, in her free time she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, watching foreign films, and exploring new walking trails. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon.

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