Miss Jane is a modern take on southern gothic literature. Miss Jane’s character would have been misunderstood as the freak or grotesque in novels past, but in National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson’s new book, Miss Jane is the innocent, the sun around which the rest of the story revolves, and it is her light that warms the novel. She crushes us with heartbreak and humanity as she stuns us with her strength and the feeling she could be me, she could be you.
In an age in which we are learning see sexuality and gender on a spectrum instead of binaries and look at the soul before anatomy, Miss Jane takes us on an unforgettable journey of being different in the rural south. Born in 1915 in Mississippi, Jane is diagnosed with a rare birth defect that will always set her apart from others. Her childhood doctor befriends her and tries with candor and care to help her navigate a world that does not allow for difference. Based on the experiences of Brad Watson’s own relative, he creates a beautiful atmospheric novel that captures a time in the past with a twist of modern issues, and a coming of age that is both universal and unique.
Questions for Discussion:
Why do you think the doctor stays connected to Jane?
Jane’s father is clear about his guilt concerning Jane’s condition. What do you think has gutted her mother’s soul?
Why do you think Grace wanted to get away?
What did you think of the portrayal of sharecropping?
Do you agree with Jane’s doctor and parent’s actions concerning her first love?
Would you have made the same decision as Jane in the 1980’s?
What other southern gothic novels did this remind you of?
Other Books by Brad Wilson: