Thursday, November 29, 2018

"Jane of Austin" by Hillary Manton Lodge

This is a refreshing book.  It's sweet, salty, full of likable characters and enough problems to keep things interesting.  It's also a retelling of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, set in Austin, Texas, in the present day.

People told me I would love this book.  I got a copy.  Then I resisted reading it for months because I was afraid I wouldn't actually love it.

But I put it specifically on my Autumn To-Do List as something I wanted to read this fall, so I made myself start reading it despite my worries.  After all, the worst that could happen would be that I didn't love it.  Then I'd sell it to the used bookstore and move on with my life, right?

Well, I loved it.  I really did!  It had quite a few surprises to it, not the least being that it's told alternately from the POVs of the Marianne character and the Colonel Brandon character.  They're not named that here, but that's who they are.  And it's really neat to hear the story from a different angle, because in the original, Elinor is pretty down on Marianne, and because I'm more like Elinor than Marianne, I kind of go with that.  But now I think I understand the Mariannes of the world a little better, and that's awesome.

In this, sisters Jane and Celia Woodward must find a way to support themselves and their little sister Margot when their father has to skip the country after getting caught with his hand in the cashbox, so to speak.  They start a tea shop in their native San Francisco.  Celia falls in love.  All goes well.

And then it doesn't go well, and they move to Austin, Texas, to start over again.  There, they meet retired Marine Callum Beckett and charming musician Sean Willis, and they try to find a new place for their tea shop, and of course, one of the new men in their lives turns out to be a skunk, and yeah... it really is Sense and Sensibility in Texas.  No big surprises.  Nothing where they swap up the characters -- and that's my favorite kind of retelling, one where I can connect the dots to the original and have a good idea how the new version is going to wind up, but I thoroughly enjoy the ride to get to the end.

Oh, and this book has a whole bunch of recipes in it that I want to try.  Especially the one for Cranberry Vanilla Scones.  Nom nom nom.

(From my Instagram)

Particularly Good Bits:

"You're weird."
"I'm idiosyncratic," I retorted.  "That's different."  (p. 50).

Celia's mouth eased into a sideways smile.  "Not everyone has your passion for dead leaves" (p. 62).  (I suspect this whole book was born of the idea of a new way to make this line work.  I love it.)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for discussion of a man getting a woman pregnant.  Also, quite a bit of kissing.  Nothing really racy, but not exactly a book I'd hand  my pre-teen to read, either.  No bad language.  


  1. This sounds like an interesting re-telling! I love Sense and Sensibility. <33

    1. Kendra Lynne, it's a very fun retelling! S&S is not one of my top 3 Austen books, but I do like it, and I definitely liked this.

  2. Hey! You just keep giving me more and more books that I want to read! It's a good thing I'm retired now and have lots of time to read. This would be a good genre for you to start working on - retelling of your favorite classics???? As westerns???? What do you think?

    1. Mom, yes, good thing you have lots of time to read now! Must be so nice :-)

      I've thought about retelling either Austen or Shakespeare as westerns. (I did write a western Hamlet back in college, actually.) But I suspect that by the time I'm done with my six planned western fairy tales, I'll be itching to get back to my original stories and tired of retellings for a while. We shall see.


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