We have all heard that old adage "Don't judge a book by its cover." But in the case of Miss Jane by Brad Watson that is exactly what I did. I had picked this book up so many times and almost bought it just because of the cover. Prior to this, I had never read any of Mr. Watson's books. But I was on a little mini vacation to LA, and was lost in The Last Bookstore in downtown when this book jumped out again at me. And this time I bought it. Sometimes a cover can lead you to a new other and an amazing novel.
Miss Jane is partially based on the true story of Mr. Watson's aunt. A women born in the early 1900's with a defect that will stop her from every being able to marry. But this book is an really a testament to the idea that life is what you make of it, not what it makes of you. Jane is born the fourth child of a farmer and his wife and her conception leaves both her mother and father feeling less than pleased with her arrival. Her mother blames the conception for Jane's defect.
The book really has two main characters though - Jane and the doctor who delivers her, Dr. Thompson. After her delivery, the doctor stays in touch throughout the rest of his life and really developed a deep friendship with Jane - really the only true relationship outsider her family that she has. Though these two are the major focus of the novel, there are other characters that will stick in your head when it is all said and done. Jane's sister Grace is great - an independent woman at a time where such people did not exist. Though I will say I found where she winds up a bit cliche - I enjoyed her whenever she popped up on the page.
I think that the message of this novel resonated the most with me because of the times we live in now. There is always this pressure to be something that you are not - change who you are to be some one "better". Jane teaches us the lesson that no matter who you are or what you struggle with - you can have a life that is fulfilling and when you come to love who you are you don't need anyone else to give you worth.
I really enjoyed this novel, and have already recommended it a number of times.