Saturday, June 24, 2017

"Jane of Austin" by Hillary Manton Lodge

Simply delightful: Those are the words that spring to mind when I think of Hillary Manton Lodge's modern day twist on Jane Austen's 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. 

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Jane Austen's novels ... and I also love modern adaptations/twists like Clueless (the movie), Lost in Austen (the ITV miniseries), and Austenland (the book and the movie). So when I heard that Hillary Manton Lodge, whose Two Blue Doors series I loved, had written a modern adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, well, it was a no brainer—I had to read it!

Whenever I've encountered Sense and Sensibility, whether the gorgeous Emma Thompson feature film, the more recent BBC production, or the Joanna Trollope novel, I've always loved Elinor and found Marianne to be overly emotional and a bit ridiculous. So when I realized that the titular Jane of this novel was the stand-in for Marianne, I was a bit nervous.

I needn't have been.

Jane is quirky and certainly more emotional than her elder sister Celia (the Elinor character), but she's also incredibly likeable. Knowing the source material, I had no doubt who she would eventually end up with, but I also could understand the attraction to her other suitor. In that situation, I probably would have fallen for him, too.

While the basic players and events from Sense and Sensibility are present in Jane of Austin, it's a great story in its own right. I love the focus on tea and the description of Jane's baking; I would totally visit Valencia Tea Company if it really existed. I thought the relationship between Jane and Celia was very realistic. And I absolutely adored Callum's dog.

Let's talk about Callum for a minute. I've always had a soft spot for Colonel Brandon (especially as portrayed by a pre-Snape Alan Rickman), and Callum is just as wonderful. A true war hero, Callum is also loyal and kind, and I liked that Jane noticed him and and liked him even while she was in the throes of love with Sean. Though Callum is not perfect, he is perfect for Jane, and I loved watching their relationship develop.

Ultimately, whether you're a fan of Sense and Sensibility or you just like a great romance, Jane of Austin is sure to make you smile. 5 stars.

Buy the book.
Read my reviews of the Two Blue Doors series: A Table by the Window (5 stars), Reservations for Two (5 stars), and Together at the Table (5 stars).

Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of the critically acclaimed Two Blue Doors series and the Plain and Simple duet. Jane of Austin is her sixth novel. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, graphic design, and finding new walking trails. She resides outside of Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband and two pups. She can e found online at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. Sounds like you liked this one, Becky! I'm so glad. (Not reading your review right now because I have yet to write mine.) Hopefully I'll remember to come by again and read your review (looking forward to this!), because I know I'm going to want to gush about this one... a lot. :)

    1. Ha, ha, I did! My review was initially about twice this length, but as I reread it, I saw that I was a) excessively gushing and b) spoiling everything for someone not familiar with Sense and Sensibility :-)


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