Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility
Hillary Manton Lodge
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.
Look, I love Sense and Sensibility. It is my favorite of Jane Austen’s novels (Lady Susan and P&P come next). I am always going to give any adaptation or modernization a little bit of extra scrutiny.
I did enjoy that the characters weren’t 100% straight reproductions from the original. I like that the dad is still alive and basically a disaster/neglectful human and that the mother being dead means we don’t have to deal with a needlessly hand-wringing older woman who can’t adapt. That change was needed to bring it to the 21st century or else it would be incredibly annoying. There are too many social changes that have happened to keep that status quo.
First person POV is always going to be hard sell for me, though I do like that it bounced between Jane (the Marianne) and Captain Callum Beckett (the Col Brandon). That helped. There were some details that left me rolling my eyes so hard they nearly popped out of my head. Overall it was a solid, fluffy book that made for a quick read. Would I read it again? Probably never. But that’s just because I can go for the original.