Miss Jane tells the story, as imagined by Brad, of his great-aunt, born in Mississippi in the early twentieth century, with a birth defect that left her, among other things, incontinent, unable to have sex or have children.
Like A Little Life, this is, despite that unpromising pitch, a remarkable read, an immensely moving and beautiful novel, deeply sad, and yet somehow inspiring, as Jane, like Jude, manages to live a rewarding and rewarded life, despite the terrible hand she has been dealt; like A Whole Life, it tells the entire story, from conception to death, of a unremarkable yet remarkable life, far from the defining events of the twentieth century.
Either title would have suited this book admirably. And yet, like any truly fine novel, Miss Jane is beyond comps, being very much uniquely itself. And Jane herself is unlike any central character you may have ever met in a novel.
The wonderful - and I think in itself rather moving - New York Times review concludes:
'The complexity and drama of Watson's gorgeous work here is life’s as well: Sometimes physical realities expand us, sometimes trap; sometimes heroism lies in combating our helplessness, sometimes in accepting it. A writer of profound emotional depths, Watson does not lie to his reader, so neither does his Jane. She never stops longing for a wholeness she may never know, but she is determined that her citizenship in the world, however onerous, be dragged into the light and there be lived without apology or perfection or pity.'
I can't imagine any of you regretting making Miss Jane's acquaintance.
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