Miss Jane by Brad Watson

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” So she did not fear her own strangeness, even though her awareness of it grew and evolved as she got older.”

It’s hard to write reviews without sounding condescending when it comes to anyone challenged physically or mentally. Its too easy sometimes to categorize a life as a sort of after school special rather than live beside the character. In this story, you live with Jane- the good, the bad and everything in between.
This was a lovely story about Jane Chisolm , born with a rare genital birth defect. For the time period she was born into, and the hard living for anyone it’s interesting to see how things beyond our control can alter the way we live, who we become. Certainly other people can pen us in, and when I think of defects and illness regardless of the time there are always challenges. I have a habit of thinking ‘what must that have been like’ with particular medical conditions in the past. And I smile to think there will come a time when people in the future will look at our past with the same cringing shock. Watson has a gifted hand in churning up a forgotten time in American lives. I just finished reading another novel in an early period where people fight nature and land to survive, in this one she has to fight her own body in a sense.
Jane isn’t completely lost or doomed to misery because of her limitations. The writing is beautiful and while this isn’t so much a story meant for championing the fight it’s more a reflection on how one woman lived and loved with her own abnormality. I have much admiration for such characters, and that the author based it on his own Aunt makes it that much more inspiring. This novel is character driven and it’s the small things that make the novel breathe; a journey into the past and one woman who won’t allow her hardships to keep her from truly living.
It was sad, beautiful and very gorgeously written. Definitely for those interested in southern fiction and the human heart.

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