Review published on March 18, 2017.
American short-story writer and novelist Watson has written a captivating tale about an extraordinary woman. Set in Mississippi in the early years of the twentieth century, Jane is a late child for farmer Chisholm and his wife. She is born with a genital defect which is untreatable and will impact her life. The local doctor Thompson is fascinated by her from birth and this is the tale of her learning to adapt and fit in with the rural society where she can only ever be an outsider.
I loved this book. Strong characterisation and written with a calm melancholy which drives the reader forward. In many ways the defect which runs Jane’s life is a side issue to a story of rural life and survival. Jane’s sister Grace wants to escape the confines of the farm as soon as possible whilst Jane is more content with a simpler existence. At times it reminded me of the 1935 Pulitzer Prize winner “Now In November” by Josephine Johnson which I recently read as a republished Apollo Classic but this was more involving. Jane is a character who I will remember for some time and the warmth and respectful treatment that she is given by this highly-skilled writer is something to cherish.
Phil Ramage 5*
Miss Jane by Brad Watson, published on 3 November, 2016 by Picador in hardback
Longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2017
Wellcome Book Prize 2017 longlist: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry