Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Source: Gift from Family
TYPE OF NOVEL: Sense and Sensibility Modern Adaptation
SETTING: Present Day San Fransisco, CA and Austin, TX
SYNOPSIS: Between their mother passing away when they were young and their dad fleeing the country because he was caught embezzling, the Woodward sisters have been through a lot! Now their kind-hearted landlord passed away and his selfish and manipulative son and daughter-in-law are forcing them out of their beloved tea shop and apartment. Finding it hard to stay in San Fransisco (for several reasons), the sisters seize the chance to begin anew in Austin, Texas. But new beginnings aren’t always easy, especially when finding a new location for your tea shop is impossible, your relatives are extra-nosy, and your sister is growing distant…
WHAT I LOVED:
- Surprise! Sense and Sensibility: I must admit…I was first attracted to this book because of the title and cover. I didn’t realize it was a contemporary retelling of Sense and Sensibility! I was happy to find this retelling to be faithful to Jane Austen’s original novel with believable updates (such as the reason why the sisters need to leave their home and why they are in financial straits), and some creative new twists (with some characters and relationships – Elinor/Edward). I appreciate that the author realized that some aspects of Jane Austen’s story didn’t fit well in our modern times and made some thoughtful and fitting alterations.
- Dual Perspectives: I love when stories are told from two or more point-of-views, and when authors label at the beginning of each chapter who’s perspective we are reading from. It was a wonderful surprise that the central figures and the two perspectives we follow in this story were Jane Woodward (Marianne) and Callum Beckett (Brandon). More often we see Elinor as the main protagonist, and I loved that this retelling was unique in its bigger focus on Marianne and her storyline.
- Jane Woodward: Speaking of, I really enjoyed this portrayal/update of Marianne. Jane was a character that was detail-oriented and passionate about her work, but she wasn’t selfish, overly melodramatic, or rude which some stories depict her to be. I loved that she was friendly towards Callum, a tea and dog lover, more practical in her relationship with Sean (Willoughby), and aware and concerned about her sister’s hidden pain.
- Callum Beckett: A retired marine captain who lost his leg (and some of his team) on a mission in Afghanistan, Callum Beckett is back stateside, adjusting to life as a civilian and cleaning up the mess his father and brother left behind. Callum’s injury and experience in the military added a lot of new depth to his character. I appreciate how the author illustrated his journey coping with the past and adapting to his new future. It was easy to fall in love with Callum and I enjoyed the time we spent in his head and the insight we gained about his character.
- Austin, Tea, and Recipes: I loved seeing Austen in Austin! What a great setting for this story; I loved all the wonderful references to the lifestyle there and local favorites, like Torchy’s! Also, I wish Valencia Tea Company was a real – the teas and amazing pastry concoctions sound heavenly! A lovely bonus treat was the recipes for ten delicious-sounding treats featured in this story – and I want to try them all! Side note, I also really loved how the author incorporated Marianne’s (Jane’s) “passion for dead leaves!” 😉
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Some Character Development: There were a few times where I thought the character development was a little thin. Part of Jane’s reactions towards Sean didn’t make as much sense to me, especially since she was more level-headed about their relationship and not as taken to romantic flights. In addition, I missed learning if Sean’s feelings for Jane were real or…?
Written with equal parts sense and sensibility and blending together flavors that are familiar and new, Jane of Austin is a delightful and delectable story for all readers to enjoy! This story about surviving the unexpected turns and upheavals life throws in your path is definitely one to savor!