But indeed I would rather have nothing but tea.
That’s a quote by Jane Austen, arguably one of the most impactful female authors. She just hada way of understanding the human heart and describing someone’s character.
Now, I love tea. I’m not sure I’d technically call myself a “tea snob”, but I do take more care in picking out and brewing my tea than I do my coffee. I prefer local tea shops to Teavana, and I rarely use teabags if I can help it.
Although I do have a weakness for sweet tea, which apparently isn’t considered actual tea by true tea lovers.
However, that being said, I did pick up Jane of Austin because it was about a young woman trying to start a tea salon.
And it was a new spin on Sense and Sensibility.
So – Jane Austen and tea? What’s not to love?
Jane of Austin follows the three Woodward sisters as their life is thrown out of control. Still grieving over the loss of their mother, they suffer through their father fleeing the country after his involvement in a scandal. In order to keep some continuity for their youngest sister Margot, Celia and Jane become her legal guardians. And to provide a livelihood, the two women decide to start a local tea salon. With Jane’s passion for tea and Celia’s business-savvy expertise, everything seems to be going well . . . until their landlords kick them out.
Facing heartbreak, and completely out of other options, Celia sends desperate requests to contacts hoping to find a community that will support their exquisite tea and baked goods. When a cousin from Austin, Texas offers the sisters his guesthouse, they can’t help but accept.
Moving to Texas seems like a good chance to start over, but when Celia and Jane can’t find properties worthy of their creativity, tensions rise. Everything takes longer than expected, and Celia and Jane begin to drift apart. Thankfully, Jane meets Sean – a member of a band, and a down home, good ole’ Texas gentlemen (equipped with a Stenson and everything!) But, she also catches the eye of Callum Beckett, a Marine turned civilian after an explosion in Afghanistan claimed his leg.
Follow along as the Woodward sisters struggle to find their place in Texas and search for healing, all while hoping not to lose each other in the process.
In her spin on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Hillary Manton Lodge will make you fall in love with her characters. You’ll be rooting for the Woodwards as they settle in their new home, and you’ll learn a lot about tea along the way!
What I Liked
I adored Jane. Probably because I felt like I strangely connected with her personality. I’m not sure if I have ever read a more accurate description of my personality than when Callum describes Jane – “Single-minded, I think is more accurate. She cares about things, little things, more than anyone else might, but when she explains it she makes you care too, or at least see why she does. She won’t like someone – or something – because she’s supposed to, but when she does it’s with her whole self.”
Jane’s a fighter and insanely passionate – about the things she’s passionate about. There’s nothing she wouldn’t do for her sisters . . . or her tea plants. But she has a good heart that’s willing to sacrifice to ensure the happiness of those she loves.
I have two younger sisters, so I felt more sympathetic to the sister relationships described – the teasing, the bickering, the frustration, but also the genuine concern for one another. When the sisters first move to Texas, the guesthouse they are staying in has a bedroom with two bunkbeds and a single bed. The thoughts that go through Jane’s head echo conversations my sisters and I have had whenever we’ve been asked to share a room. However, they graciously offer the single bed to Celia, the oldest, which is a tad different than how it ends up in my experience.
With both parents absent, Jane and Celia sign on as Margot’s legal parents (there’s quite an age gap). In spite of all the changes, Jane and Celia always put Margot’s education and passions at the forefront of their decisions. Through everything that happens, the girls fight for their relationship and what is best for them as a whole. I loved the selflessness that was shown, even amongst the arguing and bickering. Lodge did a great job of capturing the essence of sister interactions.
Jane Austen References
I absolutely love Jane Austen. She may not be my all-time favorite author (I’m more of a fantasy-type), but her books are ones that I cherish, and I appreciate the foundation she laid for female writers.
Jane of Austin does a great job of mirroring the plot of Sense and Sensibility in an interesting and contemporary way. Many of the characters clearly reflect one another, both in personality and names. There’s even a dog named Dash (a nice nod to the original Dashwood sisters)!
What I Didn’t Like
The only complaint I have toward Jane of Austin is the lack of description. Don’t get me wrong, Lodge did a great job of writing and telling you exactly what was happening, but I would’ve loved a little more – more showing, less telling. I especially think some scenes would have been stronger if there was more showing of emotion rather than just telling us someone felt a certain way.
A little romance, tension, and a few plot twist will keep you entertained through the entire novel. For Jane Austen fans, this spin on Sense and Sensibility as an Austen-esque style to it. Plus, it’s a quick read – perfect for summer!
And it has recipes. So that’s an added bonus!
Overall, I would rate this book a 4/5.
I received this book through Blogging for Books to review.