Miss Jane

Miss Jane

A Novel

eBook - 2016
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Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction: Astonishing prose brings to life a forgotten woman and a lost world in a strange and bittersweet Southern pastoral. Since his award-winning debut collection of stories, Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson has been expanding the literary traditions of the South, in work as melancholy, witty, strange, and lovely as any in America. Now, drawing on the story of his own great-aunt, Watson explores the life of Miss Jane Chisolm, born in rural, early-twentieth-century Mississippi with a genital birth defect that would stand in the way of the central "uses" for a woman in that time and place: sex and marriage. From the highly erotic world of nature around her to the hard tactile labor of farm life, from the country doctor who befriends her to the boy who loved but was forced to leave her, Miss Jane Chisolm and her world are anything but barren. The potency and implacable cruelty of nature, as well as its beauty, is a trademark of Watson's fiction. In Miss Jane, the author brings to life a hard, unromantic past that is tinged with the sadness of unattainable loves, yet shot through with a transcendent beauty. Jane Chisolm's irrepressible vitality and generous spirit give her the strength to live her life as she pleases in spite of the limitations that others, and her own body, would place on her. Free to satisfy only herself, she mesmerizes those around her, exerting an unearthly fascination that lives beyond her still.
Publisher: 2016
ISBN: 9780393285444
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Nov 17, 2017

Brad Watson has an innate sensibility with all of his characters including and especially Jane.
The wild peacocks are a lovely touch - reminds me of the elegant strutting peacocks in Borden Park in Edmonton long ago in my childhood.

inthestacks Sep 06, 2017

Author Brad Watson creates a memorable character in Jane Chisholm, a girl born with a genital birth defect that precludes her from a traditional life of marriage and children. Born to a farming family in rural Mississippi early in the 20th century, her parents are a deeply unhappy couple who suppress their distress with their daughter’s condition and walk a path of self-destruction. Jane’s only ally is Dr. Thompson, the man who delivered her and continues to hope for surgical advancements that might one day help her. You will find yourself hoping for her fulfillment and, at the same time, wanting to protect her. For Jane, life has limitations, but she finds her way both quietly and with determination.

Mar 23, 2017

An absolutely fascinating read, elegantly written and based somewhat on the life of the author's great-aunt who was born with a similar issue to the one suffered by the fictional heroine in the book. Born a hermaphrodite, in the early 1900's, in a rural area of the American south her condition is rare and barely understood at the time. In fact, it's still a rare and delicate condition that hasn't yet hit mainstream media in any meaningful way as far as I can tell. The writing is beautifully descriptive of foliage and seasons and animals, as well as of the human living conditions of the era, but also direct without a superfluous word anywhere. I loved this book.

Mar 13, 2017

This is the most perfect book I've read since maybe East of Eden, or God of Animals by Aryn Kyle.

Dec 30, 2016

This was a surprisingly wonderful book about a female who had a genital defect that "that would stand in the way of the central “uses” for a woman in that time and place" written by a man. A beautifully written story about her finding a way to live in the world of early 20th century rural Mississippi.

Dec 06, 2016

From the publisher: ‘Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction: Astonishing prose brings to life a forgotten woman and a lost world in a strange and bittersweet Southern pastoral.’

It’s a beautiful little book but so, so sad.

Nov 20, 2016

In 1918 Mississippi, Jane is born to somewhat older parents.At her birth, the kind Dr. Thompson notes that baby Jane has a genital defect that he does not quite understand, but as time goes by he is gradually able to gently explain to Jane in more detail what the problem is. Due the genital defect, Jane is incontinent and cannot control her bowels. This does not pose too much of a problem in the first few years, but as Jane wishes to go to school and enlarge her life, wearing layers of clothes and a diaper- like garment makes life very much of a challenge for spirited and intelligent Jane. Jane's older sister, Grace, finds herself responsible for much of Jane's care in the first few years.

We follow Jane through life, her first love for a boy, attempting to work, trying to fit into her farming community, and later on , endeavoring to fit into city life.

Jane has a variety of people around her, some very sympathetic and caring, others quite harsh. This is a beautiful, contemplative account of a quiet , lonely and emotion- filled life. A beautifully told story that calls to mind the style of Kent Haruf and perhaps Laura Pritchett.

Highly recommended

Nov 15, 2016

The main character, Miss Jane, grows up with a genital birth defect. I'd typically think of a victim role put in the content of the story. Instead, I witness a life more normal than those who haven't been born with a challenge in a time when women's main role was to have family and be desired for sexual purpose. The author takes us into the heart of the early 1900's replete with share-cropping, living off the land, and financial hard times. Inject a dose of family relationship, a loyal family doctor, and tender affection, and you get a read that engages one from beginning to end.

JCLMELODYK Sep 28, 2016

You will think about Miss Jane long after you finish. And you'll want to possess her quiet dignity and also you will want to be such a friend as Dr. Thompson. And you'll want to maybe go back to the farm - at least for the weekend and pay more attention out there then you did when you lived there as a child.

Chapel_Hill_KrystalB Aug 15, 2016

My kind of story- beautifully simple with amazingly memorable characters. Extra points for it being historical and southern. I was not familiar with Brad Watson but will definitely seek out his other works.


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