Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge – Sisters, Tea Shops, Texas and Romance in a ‘Sense & Sensibility’ Re-telling

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Source: Publisher provided 
Publication Date: 2017
Find the Review elsewhere: 
Amazon | Goodreads | Wordpress
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary, Family
Rating: ★★★★½
“Smart, sassy and sensational, Jane of Austin is a classic in its own right; a book worthy of placing next to its Austen inspired tome.” 
Change is threatening to sweep the Woodward sister’s into its vicious cycle. In the wake of their father’s scandal, the sisters reinvent their life by opening a tea shop. Now, their landlord has died and his family no longer believe they’re good tenants. Forced to leave behind their home and business, the three sisters pack up and make the move from California to Texas, where distant relatives await.

Jane is the most impetuous of the three whereas Celia is the voice of reason and then there’s Margot. A high school senior, Margot has had plenty of change in her life, but she also settles into their new life with little fuss. You see Jane detests the idea of leaving their home (and wonders at the real reason for it), while Celia has just had her heart broken by the man she thought was “the one.” As the sisters navigate their new life, they must learn how to adapt to change, new friends, broken hearts and possibilities.

Reading this book was a unique experience. Not only did I have a read along with a fellow book blogger (#BookBesties), my primary reading medium was also unusual. Part of this experience included the audio book. Time and again I’ve said I wouldn’t like audio books, but as I was participating in a read along, I wanted a way (if needed) to continue to “read” this book even when the day didn’t allow for normal reading time. Walking away from this experience was, I’m happy to report, a very good one. (As an aside, the audio is fantastic; the female narrator gives each character a little different “voice,” and Margot in particular is a spot-on interpretation.) Mixing the traditional “old fashioned” way of reading (print book) with audio enhanced the experience, and if you’re wondering what I thought of Jane of Austin, let’s talk about it.

It’s been weeks since reading this book, and still I didn’t sit down to pen a review. Why? It’s one of those books that impacts its reader (because it’s so classy) and stays with its reader long after the final page. These kind of novels are impossible to accurately put into words. The sisters are each well written, and each personality reads a little differently than the other. This is a book that’s memorable in all the right ways. Though contemporized and brought into the 21st century, Jane of Austin retells Sense & Sensibility really well. Of course, Hillary had to adjust some of the key elements because what was relevant in Austen’s world is no longer a barrier in ours. All are changes that work in the flow without sacrificing the heart of this story.

Each of the personalities is well represented. Jane (Marianne) is as one would expect a contemporary Marianne to be, only her “passionate” emotions are tamed, which I appreciated. Though some parts of her original character being carried over into this story really surprised me, each are handled well. Celia is, unfortunately, pushed to the background because of the first-person POV switch off (between Jane and a male character, Callum), but what’s there is very like Elinor. Margot (Margaret) is perhaps the funniest character in the entire novel, though all of the eccentric characters we know from Sense & Sensibility are present.
“I didn't respond on account of having a severe case of the heart flutters.” - Hillary Manton Lodge
Reading this novel is like the warm, welcoming smell of freshly baked cookies (perfect since this book continues Hillary’s signature addition of recipes) or the enveloping comfort of a favorite sweater. It’s full of beautiful quotes, and lovely characters. The bond of sisterhood is depicted as genuine with bumps and bruises, and the journey towards love is full of heartbreak and swoony smiles. If there is a flaw I have with the book, it’s that we don’t see enough of the girl’s with their loves. I understand the “why,” I just wish we’d had more page time with them, and furthermore, that this book hadn’t ended. A reader can appreciate the simple and quiet moments that bond two characters (saying who would be all about the spoilers!), but again, because these characters are so dynamic, they’re missed when it’s time to say goodbye.

Smart, sassy and sensational, Jane of Austin is a classic in its own right; a book worthy of placing next to its Austen inspired tome.♥

Synopsis: 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. - Goodreads

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book.


  1. Oh Rissi, what a lovely review! #BookBesties forever!

    YES to the impact and classy nature of this story! I could have read a few more chapters about these beloved characters, but I actually liked just where it ended, with some things neatly wrapped up and all the other possibilities of the future.

    I've always felt Sense and Sensibility (or at least the 1996 film adaptation I love) was more Elinor's story, her view of events. I think Hillary's limiting of Celia's view in this story was genius --- it makes it Jane's (Marianne's) story entirely, still highlighting the sisters' relationships and still giving Celia her happy ending, but forcing a new focus on what is in her mind and heart.

    I could talk about this book all day....... <3

    1. Hey, Courtney! Thanks. As always, I enjoyed reviewing this one because *swoon* it's a really (really) good book. But... ahh! There's added pressure to. :D

      Well said. I don't mind the possibilities Hillary left us with at all! I was just so engrossed that I wish we'd been given a *little* more time. That said, of course the ending does work wonderfully.

      Elinor IS a strong character in this story - or the films. Because of this, I agree, she does seem to get a lot of the story time. Switching this to Marianne's perspective does make things interesting and more as if we're reading this classic story through fresh eyes and much of its intricacies for the first time. :) No matter what, it's a stunning story - and ditto! I could talk about it all day too. So. Good.

  2. AnonymousJuly 19, 2017

    Nice review Rissi. I haven't read this book yet, but it is on my TBR list. :)

    1. Thanks! And I do hope you enjoy this one. It's lovely. :)

  3. I run a link up for reviews of books about food. If you would like to link up this review (and possibly win a prize) you can do it at http://www.spiritblog.net/july-2017-foodies-read

  4. Thanks so much for stopping by my new site - I really appreciate it!
    I'm burning out on retellings but I can never resist ... Jane Austen. I think I'd like this one!
    Jen Ryland

    1. My pleasure, Jen! It looks fabulous. :) Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland.

      If you like all things Austen, I think you'd really enjoy this one! Happy reading. :)

  5. I'm looking forward to reading this book! It sounds like a good one. And the cover is so pretty! :) Great review, Rissi!

    1. Isn't the cover stunning, Miranda!?? It's even prettier in person too!

      Hope you enjoy this one soon (let me know what you think), and thanks for visiting. :)

  6. I've heard a bunch about this book! I'll definitely look into it; it sounds like a good book! Also the cover is really cute!!

    1. It's amazing, Hanne! And yes, I agree. The cover is fabulous - and even prettier in person. :) Hope you enjoy, and let me know if you read it.

  7. I'd seen this book was out and wondered how it would be- I know re-interpretations can sometimes be a disappointment, and not live up to the expectations. Now, I hope I get the chance to read it sometime-it sounds really good!

    1. It is SO good, Korin. If you have the chance to read it, I do hope you enjoy! Let me know if you do, because I'm all for chatting about this ALL THE TIME! :)

      Thanks for dropping by - always glad to chat with you.


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