Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Romance, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review } – Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and SensibilityJane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility by Hillary Manton Lodge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jane of Austin is a wonderful, contemporary spin on Jane Austin classic ‘Sense and Sensibility’.Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves uprooted from their recently settles lives running a tea shop in San Francisco due to unforeseen circumstances. In the aftermath of their father’s business scandal, they again face a sad prospect of disturbing their barely settled lives and are forced to move to Austin, Texas. The duo packs up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again. They do so grudgingly, but the developments in their lives are not all smooth, When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the relationship between the sisters’ strains which is surprising considering how they have held on to each other all these difficult years. Also attracted to Jane is retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but he holds back his feelings because of his disability and also certain personal circumstances, he is bitter about his return not just because of his scars from the war but also the scars of his past.

As much as I love classics, I am always curious about their modern adaptations. And as far as adaptations go, Jane of Austin is a faithful one. It mirrors the original in all the emotions and sentiments, but with the backdrop of the present time. It retains all the elements of the original, generous sprinkle of drama about future, some reckless abandon about falling in love and a dash of heartbreak, the book has it all.

The idea of a tea shop is refreshingly unique. Most the books I have read have a bakery or a cafe as the backdrop. The recipes are fun and varied. The chapters begin with beautiful quotes on tea or books or something relevant ( “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me – C.S.Lewis” ) The character of Callum Beckett is my favourite, just a shade more than Celia’s, which comes a close second, probably because I am myself charmed by him. It is wonderful, realistic and believable. It’s not stereotypical as with most PTSD based characters. He hesitates and holds back owing to his disability and yet puts a confident front in the right measure, striking a balance. The bond between the sisters is endearing and beautifully portrayed.

There are a few things that I didn’t like about the story line. Jane’s relationship with Sean progresses at an unnecessarily fast pace. Sean’s character is painted in all white and the breakup is not very well written. I know it was supposed to come as a shock to Jane and even the readers, but I think some more detail could have been worked into the progression of this plotline. It may be a modern spin on the classic, but the fast spiralling pace sort of becomes a giveaway of an imminent heartbreak. Also, The idea that you can run a tea company ( not just a store or salon, she also sends out orders by post) with plants that fit in the back of a pickup truck is unrealistic. Everyone would start growing them on their terrace if that were the case. And a semester abroad is perfectly adequate to pick up nuances of tea brewing and the tea ceremony, but not for learning to learn how to run a mini tea plantation. Growing your own teas leaves is an idea that easily comes across as far-fetched. Also, the story could have worked just as well with Jane outsourcing the tea leaves. Growing themselves in pots was unnecessary

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. But the opinions and the views are entirely mine and completely honest. 🙂

View all my reviews on Goodreads here

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