Jane of Austin Review
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Unabridged Digital Audiobook
Runtime: 10 hours, 16 minutes
Read by Kate Handford

The romances of Jane Austen have been read and studied and reread by bookworms and English majors for more than two centuries. They’ve been made into countless movies and reworked into wacky mashups. And in the audio version of author Hillary Manton Lodge’s Jane of Austin, the beloved novelist’s Sense and Sensibility moves to modern-day Texas.

The story follows the three Woodward sisters they leave San Francisco for new lives in Austin, Texas. Their lives have never been easy. After their mother died and their father fled the country to escape charges for his questionable business dealings, Jane and her sisters, Celia and Margot, were forced to rely on each other. Years later, when the rent on their tea shop is raised beyond what they can afford, they’re taken in by a cousin in Texas. And as they settle in, Jane attracts the attention of both an up-and-coming musician and a disabled veteran.

Jane of Austin mixes the romance and tea of Jane Austen’s beloved novels with the hip setting of today’s Austin, Texas, for a fun-filled modern-day work of chick lit. Fans of Sense and Sensibility will love reading the stories of the Dashwood sisters from a new, updated perspective. But even if you haven’t read Jane Austen’s novels before, you’ll quickly get caught up in the family drama and the tangled (but totally clean) romance. The story is filled with interesting personalities—from quiet, reserved Celia and outspoken Jane to fun-loving musician Sean and strong, steady Callum.

Admittedly, though, not everything works well in the audio edition. Though the recipes included throughout the novel may be perfect for print and digital editions, they don’t fit in the audio edition. Listeners aren’t likely to take notes and recreate the recipes later—and the time it takes to read an entire recipe (some of which are quite detailed) only removes listeners from the story. Meanwhile, narrator Kate Handford’s prim and proper read may be appropriate for classic Austen, but her style feels out of place in a modern romance—and her pronunciations of certain words are sometimes so far from how anyone in either Texas or California would speak that it can be distracting. But if you can overlook some audio issues, this is certainly a pleasing Austen adaptation.

With its classic romance and fresh setting, Jane of Austin is a sweet and charming Jane Austen update—one that fans and newcomers can both appreciate. It’s a charming novel for listening on the go, but you might want to be prepared to fast-forward through the recipes.

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