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Jane of Austin: A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility

Soon after the death of their mother, Celia and Jane become guardians of their younger sister Margot when their father flees the country to avoid prosecution for financial crimes.

Celia, the eldest, is a reserved and responsible accountant while outspoken Jane is a botany student and tea-enthusiast. Combining their skills, they open a teashop and bakery in San Francisco and the three sisters make a new normal for themselves. But, after seven years of business, the sisters lose their retail space and are forced to look for a fresh start in Austin, Texas, where their cousin has invited them to stay while they figure out next steps.

“Jane of Austin,” written by Hillary Manton Lodge, is based on “Sense and Sensibility” with bits of other Austen novels thrown in. Celia and Jane inhabit the roles of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, respectively.

My favorite character was Callum Beckett (aka Colonel Brandon of Sense and Sensibility), an amputee veteran dealing with PTSD and adjusting to civilian life. He’s inherited a chain of Texan BBQ restaurants from his estranged father and is navigating the new business while working to maintain his mental health.

The narration switches between Jane and Callum, and I really appreciated the shifting perspectives throughout the story.

The speed with which romantic relationships jumped to marriage was a little hard to believe in this modern setting, but there were also good discussions between the sisters about manipulative behaviors like gas lighting and the importance of respect in meaningful relationships.

The book "Jane of Austin" sits open to a page detailing a cake recipe, and to the right a small cake sits on an adjacent plate.
Texas Sheet Cake with a Black Tea Twist, recipe from “Jane of Austin.”

Various recipes (10 total + 1 tea how-to) are scattered throughout and cover a range of foods from scones to tacos. I tried two recipes so far: Southern Skillet Corn Bread and Texas Sheet Cake with a Black Tea Twist. They both turned out great with complex flavors, and I’m looking forward to trying the other recipes in the book.

Favorite quotes: “It’s good to have dreams. But sometimes dreams change, or take different forms, or you go down a path and realize that while it’s not the beach, you really like the forest.” – Jane

“I don’t think it’s ever wrong to love what you have more than what you had.” –Jane

4/5 stars for “Jane of Austin.” It was overall an enjoyable read with a few well-developed characters, and as a baking enthusiast I appreciated the smattering of recipes throughout.