Sunday, January 24, 2016

Audiobook Review: Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay

Lizzy & Jane
by Katherine Reay
2014, read by Hillary Huber

✯✯✯✯✯ (for the novel)
✯✯ (for the audiobook)


Two sisters, one nearly 10 years older than the other. In a fit of rebellion, Jane left home, leaving a void in her younger sister, Lizzy's life, a void that only widens when her mother dies of cancer. As soon as Elizabeth is of legal age, she's gone too, following her dreams to be a big-time chef in New York City. She has her restaurant, Feast, the potential for a romantic match the restaurant's financial backer, Paul. No need for family. But now her skills as a chef are slipping and she's losing the magic. Thinking a return home will stir the passion she once felt for food, Lizzy heads to Washington only to discover that her sister is now battling cancer, the same cancer that killed their mother. While Jane eventually came home and proved herself stable, the relationship between Jane and Lizzy is anything but. Except now Jane needs her and maybe this is a second chance to make their relationship work, just as their mother always hoped. After all, you don't name your daughters after the Bennet sisters in Pride & Prejudice without a good reason.

The Novel

First, do not read Reay's books unless you love classic literature or you will be completely lost with all the literary references. These women eat, sleep, and breathe Jane Austen, although this one also references a lot of Hemingway. And don't read this book unless you're at least a little bit of a foodie since food references are on almost every single page. 

Despite the heroines being named after the Bennet sisters, Lizzy's favorite Austen novel is Persuasion which also happens to my personal favorite. So I appreciated her insight and love of the novel, especially her thoughts on how Anne being forced to wait might have been a blessing, hence the following quote.

Second, if you've ever known someone, either a friend or a family member, who battled cancer than this book will be an inspiration and encouragement to you. While I'm fortunate in the good health of my immediate family and friends, I also realize that the pain, confusion, hurt, and anger over that dreadful diagnosis of cancer is very real. And this book offers at least gentle semblance of healing and hope.

Life and family are sometimes messy. I cannot connect to the reality of Lizzy and Jane's relationship, their anger, the long history of bitterness and snipping at one another. I don't know how defensiveness can be the first reaction you have to your sister. But then, I've been blessed with a best friend in my younger sister. I love her, so very much, and so my heart breaks when I remember the sad reality that a lot of siblings don't have the same relationship that I have with my sibling.

This book is about closing relational rifts, especially in times of pain and suffering. It's about forging ahead to reconciliation, about being tentative and trusting and transparent with family. It's about giving of yourself when your first reaction for decades has always been self-preservation.

I thoroughly enjoyed Reay's first book, Dear Mr. Knightley. It was a very sweet read, cute, but whatever I felt lacked in that novel has been found in Lizzy & Jane. Katherine Reay has matured into the author she was meant to become, and I hope and pray that she accomplishes much more with her writing in the years to come. I just know this book has already touched and softened many lives and that it will touch many more. That's the magic of books that connect to Austen. People read them, and they should this book!

The Narrator

I won't go too much into this except to say that I am THANKFUL that I didn't let my opinion of this novel hinge on the narrator. I started out just listening to the audio book and it was just so . . . depressing. Bone deep depressing with a droning tenor to it that just grated on me.

My advice? Skip the audio book on this one. I listened to exactly 33% of the audio book before picking up the actual novel. The best decision I ever made and the absolute saving of the brilliant Lizzy & Jane.

Parental Guidance  

One of the things I like about Reay's work is that she doesn't necessarily preach to her readers. With that in mind, this is a little bit more of a clean read. I mean, Jane is honest with her sister that sex has no appeal right now because she feels shriveled and dry. Yes, it's a bit blunt and I was a bit shocked, but you know what? That's life! I'm comfortable with everything I read within the pages of Lizzy & Jane and there was nothing sexually questionable. Just some brutal honesty and a lot of family hurt that needed to be worked through.


  1. Oh, dear! Jayne, I accidentally deleted your comment! And now I'm trying to remember all the details of what it said. But I do know you mentioned your parents both having cancer. I cannot even imagine the weight that would go along with that type of diagnosis.

    While I'm not necessarily a genuine foodie, this book did give me an appreciation for food and the difficulty that goes into being a chef. I'm totally just a home cook, but I appreciate what chefs are able to accomplish with flavors. They're remarkable.

    I hope The Bronte Plot it just as good as this one!

    1. No problems - I've done that before! My library doesn't have The Bronte Plot yet, but I'm hoping soon.

  2. Great review! I definitely should pick this book up sometime. I have to agree with you on not really relating to sisterly strife as my two younger sisters are my best friends. :D

    1. Yes, you definitely should. It'd a gem, really. I hope you like it! ❤

  3. I just read The Bronte Plot, first Reay book for me, and I reeeeeeeally liked it. So much so, I put this book on hold at the library, so hope to be reading it soon. Thanks for reviewing her books -- between you and Kara, you convinced me I should try them, and I'm so glad I did!

    1. Awww, well I'm happy Kara and I worked in accidental tandem to convince you to try Reay's work. How awesome is that! It'll be interesting to see what you think of Lizzy & Jane. And I'm curious about The Bronte Plot now and resenting that I'm #6 in the holds list at my library! ❤

  4. Sounds good, might look this one out! Also, I nominated you for a Liebster award - don't know if you've done one before but here's the link if you fancy it :)


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