The Book of Jane by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt

Synopsis:
Jane’s always found it easy to believe in God, but when she loses everything overnight she has to learn what’s really important.

Review:
I decided to play cliche today, and brought this book with me to the spa while I got my toesies ready for an upcoming weekend on Cape Cod. It was a perfect experience–with one exception. I blew through the book in record time (even more me), and now I won’t be reading any of it on the beach. Quelle horreur!

This is chick lit retelling of the book of Job, the darkest of all the Bible’s 66 books. Jane’s woes might be a little less epic than Job’s, in that no children die, but she does get a wicked case of facial impetigo and has her apartment flooded thanks to a misplaced statue of Elvis. Dayton and Vanderbilt’s writing is top notch, and they have a knack for peppering their prose with the little details that make the story sing.

While The Book of Jane is technically Christian chick lit, it doesn’t wear its theology on its sleeve and refrains from the kind of preachiness that can plague the genre. Jane’s a relatable heroine who I really connected with.

In the interest of full disclosure, Anne’s husband made strawberry soup for my husband and me last week, and May pops up on my GChat from time to time. If I hadn’t liked the book, I wouldn’t have blogged about it, because I won’t do that to a friend (not even anonymously using my superpower). I’m glad I liked it & heartily recommend it.

3 thoughts on “The Book of Jane by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt”

  1. I read your review of ‘Book of Jane’, and another book came to mind. Pardon if I have mentioned it before.

    Elizabeth Moon, retired Marine Corps officer, wrote a fantasy trilogy some years ago. ‘The Deed of Paksennarion’ was initially released as the individual titles, ‘Sheepfarmer’s Daughter’, ‘Divided Allegiance’, and ‘Oath of Gold’.

    I was advised to *not* start the second book, until I had the third book in hand. You will need the thread of hope the following book suggests. I pass along this advice, that I found appropriate.

    Set in a world similar to Tolkein’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, The Deed of Paksennarion follows a girl just come of age to join a mercenary army – but she has to run away from home before her father marries her off to a neighbor’s son. Gradually Paks encounters more of the world around her, the glamour and camp chores of the mercenaries, the people in her recruit company and their officers. A bit about countries and contracts, and those that follow different belief systems. From the beginning she follows an intent to do good and to help others.

    The cover claims ‘The first author to digest Tolkein, and to produce a completely new story’. Moon’s work, though generally excellent, often suffers from lapses in continuity and weak spots. Except this heroic epic. (Other excellent Moon books: Winning Colors, Once a Hero. Both are the first books of trilogies.) There are four or more other books in the Paksennarion story line.

    The other reason I thought of this was your comment about how quickly you read Book of Jane. I think the first two paperbacks were around 700 pages, and the third was at least 600. I prefer a good, long story to several short stories. Longer immersion in a story world seems to soothe something in me.

    I just glanced up at my bookshelf. Have you read any of Susan R. Matthews? She writes a dark story. Really dark. ‘Prisoner of Conscience’ and ‘Exchange of Hostages’ kick off an SF series. About an aristocrat son that became a skilled neurosurgeon. And his family forces him to take up the duties of military Ship’s Surgeon, with Write to Inquire. The Writ is formal torture. Above the 6th level is always lethal. This with a doctor dedicated to healing, but with a real touch for the information few other torturers ever obtain. Who needs a villain with this much conflict? And yet I find the story engaging, gritty but not morbid.

    And more military SF: Christopher Rowley’s ‘Bazil Broketail’ fantasy series, David Drake’s ‘With the Lightnings’ Lt. Leary SF series. David Weber’s Honor Harrington series begins with ‘On Basilisk Station’ and continues with more than 10 titles.

    Hastings book store here in Ponca City messed up one of the horror authors, and put Kelley Armstrong’s books in the SF aisle, or I wouldn’t have found her. Not as deep a story, perhaps, as the ‘Daughter Of The Blood’ fantasy/demon books by Anne Bishop, but quite good reading.

    Thanks!

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