Book Review -Jane of Austin

SUMMARY

Celia, Jane and Margo have been each other’s only family since their mother’s death and their father’s desertion. Together they run a successful tea shop in the heart of San Francisco. When their landlord dies and their new owner gives them an eviction notice, the sisters are left scrambling to find a new space for both their business and their residence.

Then Celia announces that she and her long term boyfriend Teddy have broken up. She talks Jane and Margo into packing up their life and moving to Austin where they have been offered free temporary housing by a distant relative.

But Austin is a bigger adjustment than anticipated and it creates conflict between Jane and Celia. Jane’s frustrations are somewhat alleviated when she falls for the charming Sean. Then there is Callum Beckett, a former soldier who is dealing with the death of his father and loss of his leg. Callum tries to hide his growing interest in Jane who seems oblivious to his kind and generous nature. Will these sisters and their lives be reconciled?

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve been eagerly waiting to read Jane of Austin since news of its’ release was announced months ago. I’ve long been a fan of author Hillary Manton Lodge and also…cover love! I mean, it’s a beautiful work of art which would draw my attention even if the author and story did not.

Plus, Jane of Austin puts its’ own contemporary spin on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility while also referencing other Austen works throughout the story.

I was not disappointed. While I did recognize the echoes of Sense and Sensibility, Jane of Austin is also its’ own unique tale.  In particular the character of Jane, who is the modern version of Marianne, is very different than I expected. Yes, Jane is still led by her emotions in many instances, but she is more introverted and sensible than in Austen’s classic. She could definitely not be called silly or immature. Jane’s love for tea, music and baking makes me wish she could be my best friend. Really, her only deviation from common sense comes in the bodily form of Sean the charmer.

And of course, there is Callum Beckett who is the stand in for Colonel Brandon. As Jane eventually learns, Callum has a hero’s heart. He is thoughtful, sincere and self-sacrificing. Plus, he’s a Texas man and we all know irresistible they can be!

The story alternates between Jane and Callum’s points of view. I love how the author starts each chapter with a quote about tea or Texas depending on whether the narrator is Jane or Callum.

In Sense and Sensibility we get more of Eleanor’s perspective and thoughts than we do of her counterpart Celia in Jane of Austin. This may be my one disappointment with this book. Other than how Celia’s decisions and interactions with her sister affect Jane, we get no insight into her character. Without the comparison to Eleanor, Celia would be rather under-developed.

I do love the emphasis this story places on family. Both Jane and Callum have had troubled relationships with their parents. And aside from Jane’s sisters both of them are also without any closely related family members. But each of them learn that family isn’t just a matter of blood, but of choice. Jane and Celia’s cousin Ian and his mother in law Nina serve as the glue for each character. They offer the framework around which Celia, Jane, Margo and Callum are able to rebuild their lives. These supporting characters really are supporting in the truest sense of the word.

Jane of Austin did not disappoint me. The author remains true to her story inspiration while also creating something new with a little Texas flair. I would love to see more re-workings of Austen’s originals by the author in the future.

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