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LOOKING FOR JANE

by Heather Marshall ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 7, 2023

A charged topic handled with sensitivity and compassion.

Mothers and daughters, secrets and lies.

Canadian writer Marshall makes an absorbing debut with a timely novel about the complexities of pregnancy and motherhood: “About wanting to be a mother and not wanting to be a mother, and all the gray areas in between,” as she writes in an author’s note. Her deftly braided narrative, which takes place in Toronto beginning in the 1960s, focuses on three women whose lives have been deeply affected by the struggle over women’s reproductive rights in Canada, which finally ended in 1988 with a groundbreaking decision to legalize abortion. In 1960, though, Evelyn Taylor is sent to St. Agnes’s Home for Unwed Mothers, where she is forced to give up her daughter for adoption. In 1979, Nancy Mitchell is horrified by witnessing a cousin’s sordid back-alley abortion; and in 2017, Angela Creighton, who had been adopted as an infant, is undergoing rounds of in vitro fertilization so that she and her wife can have the baby they long for. Angela sets events in motion when she opens a misdirected letter addressed to a Nancy Mitchell, a wrenching confession from Nancy’s dying mother telling her daughter that she had been adopted and sharing, at last, the name of her birth mother. Angela’s efforts to find Nancy lead her to another discovery: of an underground network of abortion providers, staffed by physicians who risked their lives and careers to help women end unwanted pregnancies. They called themselves the Janes. One of the abortion providers is Evelyn, who became a physician in response to the trauma and “crippling sense of helplessness, and lack of control over her own life” she had suffered at St. Agnes’s. Nancy, sympathetic to the cause, volunteers as an administrator, booking and scheduling patients. Although the three lives intersect a bit too neatly, Marshall keeps the tension high as she reveals the devastating consequences of denying women autonomy over their bodies.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-6680-1368-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

LITERARY FICTION | HISTORICAL FICTION | GENERAL FICTION

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New York Times Bestseller

by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 6, 2024

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

FAMILY LIFE & FRIENDSHIP | GENERAL FICTION | HISTORICAL FICTION

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LONG ISLAND

LONG ISLAND

by Colm Tóibín ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 7, 2024

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

An acclaimed novelist revisits the central characters of his best-known work.

At the end of Brooklyn (2009), Eilis Lacey departed Ireland for the second and final time—headed back to New York and the Italian American husband she had secretly married after first traveling there for work. In her hometown of Enniscorthy, she left behind Jim Farrell, a young man she’d fallen in love with during her visit, and the inevitable gossip about her conduct. Tóibín’s 11th novel introduces readers to Eilis 20 years later, in 1976, still married to Tony Fiorello and living in the titular suburbia with their two teenage children. But Eilis’ seemingly placid existence is disturbed when a stranger confronts her, accusing Tony of having an affair with his wife—now pregnant—and threatening to leave the baby on their doorstep. “She’d known men like this in Ireland,” Tóibín writes. “Should one of them discover that their wife had been unfaithful and was pregnant as a result, they would not have the baby in the house.” This shock sends Eilis back to Enniscorthy for a visit—or perhaps a longer stay. (Eilis’ motives are as inscrutable as ever, even to herself.) She finds the never-married Jim managing his late father’s pub; unbeknownst to Eilis (and the town), he’s become involved with her widowed friend Nancy, who struggles to maintain the family chip shop. Eilis herself appears different to her old friends: “Something had happened to her in America,” Nancy concludes. Although the novel begins with a soap-operatic confrontation—and ends with a dramatic denouement, as Eilis’ fate is determined in a plot twist worthy of Edith Wharton—the author is a master of quiet, restrained prose, calmly observing the mores and mindsets of provincial Ireland, not much changed from the 1950s.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781476785110

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

LITERARY FICTION | HISTORICAL FICTION | FAMILY LIFE & FRIENDSHIP | GENERAL FICTION

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by Colm Tóibín

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF JAMES JOYCE’S <i>ULYSSES</i>

edited by Colm Tóibín

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Looking for Jane : Book summary and reviews of Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

Summary | Reviews | More Information | More Books

Looking for Jane

by Heather Marshall

Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

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Published Feb 2023 400 pages Genre: Literary Fiction Publication Information

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About this book

Book summary.

This "powerful debut" (Hello! Canada) for fans of Kristin Hannah and Jennifer Chiaverini about three women whose lives are bound together by a long-lost letter, a mother's love, and a secret network of women fighting for the right to choose—inspired by true stories.

2017: When Angela Creighton discovers a mysterious letter containing a life-shattering confession, she is determined to find the intended recipient. Her search takes her back to the 1970s when a group of daring women operated an illegal underground abortion network in Toronto known only by its whispered code name: Jane. 1971: As a teenager, Dr. Evelyn Taylor was sent to a home for "fallen" women where she was forced to give up her baby for adoption—a trauma she has never recovered from. Despite harrowing police raids and the constant threat of arrest, she joins the Jane Network as an abortion provider, determined to give other women the choice she never had. 1980: After discovering a shocking secret about her family, twenty-year-old Nancy Mitchell begins to question everything she has ever known. When she unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she feels like she has no one to turn to for help. Grappling with her decision, she locates "Jane" and finds a place of her own alongside Dr. Taylor within the network's ranks, but she can never escape the lies that haunt her.

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"Marshall vividly brings to life the dangers involved with operating [The Jane Network]… a page-turner… readers will be moved by the courage and thoughtfulness with which these characters face their dilemmas." - Publishers Weekly "Marshall makes an absorbing debut with a timely novel about the complexities of pregnancy and motherhood… [a] deftly braided narrative, Marshall keeps the tension high as she reveals the devastating consequences of denying women autonomy over their bodies. A charged topic handled with sensitivity and compassion." - Kirkus Reviews "A confident debut that offers a fascinating, often disturbing insight into the state of Canadian women's reproductive rights in our recent history... . Timely." - The Globe and Mail (UK) "A heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and shocking story about women's struggle for reproductive choice in Canada." - Adrienne Chinn, author of The English Wife "A masterful debut about motherhood and choices, the things we keep, the things we lose, and the things that stay with us and change us at our core forever... . A searing, important, beautifully written novel about the choices we all make and where they lead us—as well as a wise and timely reminder of the difficult road women had to walk not so long ago." - Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars "Masterful ... A poignant celebration of motherhood, and a devastating reminder of the consequences of denying women the right to choose. Fierce, beautifully written, and unforgettable." - Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnolia Palace "Heather Marshall has pulled off a remarkable feat with this vital and incisive tale. It is at once an urgently necessary read and a pleasure to spend time with. The characters felt like friends, their story deeply essential to my own existence. A brave, generous, capable exploration of what it means to be a mother, to be a woman, and to stand up for inexorable truths." - Marissa Stapley, New York Times bestselling author of Lucky "An original and poignant story that holds a mirror to the ongoing fight for women's rights. In reflecting on a dark spot in Canadian history, Heather Marshall speaks to the power of solidarity and of brave women who dare to take a stand." - Ellen Keith, bestselling author of The Dutch Wife

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Author Information

Heather marshall.

Heather Marshall lives with her family near Toronto. She completed master's degrees in Canadian history and political science, and worked in politics and communications before turning her attention to her true passion: storytelling. Looking for Jane is her debut novel. Visit her website and connect on social channels at HeatherMarshallAuthor.com.

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Review | Looking for Jane, by Heather Marshall

LookingForJane

The lives of all three women intersect over the years, and the crux of the story lies in the Jane network. Abortion wasn’t legalized in Canada until 1988; before then, many women were limited to underground, and often dangerous, means to end unwanted pregnancies. After one such procedure sends Nancy’s cousin to the ER, Nancy learns that if a future need arises, they can simply “ask for Jane.” Jane is a codeword for an underground network of courageous women, including some doctors and nurses, who use legit medical knowledge and resources to provide safe abortions.

The three characters’ stories converge around the theme of motherhood and women’s rights over their own bodies: In the 80s, Evelyn has grown up to be a doctor, and she and her nurse Alice become key members of the Jane network. Nancy uses their services in the 80s, then, in a desire to give back, becomes a volunteer Jane as well. And in 2017, Angela and her wife are undergoing fertility treatments. Angela’s investigation reveals that Nancy’s mother may be Margaret, who was Evelyn’s best friend at St. Agnes.

The Jane network may be fictional, but the author’s afterword tells us many similar underground networks did exist before abortion was legalized. I love that this story was set in Toronto, and that it featured familiar places like Ossington subway station and St Joe’s Hospital. I’m not very familiar with these parts of history, so it was really cool to step back several decades in time and see how the city may have been.

The St Agnes home where women were forced to give up their babies is also fictional, but like the Jane network, is based on an amalgamation of similar homes. I especially love that in her afterword, the author acknowledges the racist underpinnings of such practices, and encourages readers to self-educate about events like the Sixties Scoop, where Indigenous children were forcibly taken from their families. So much of historical fiction is about white people’s experiences, and while  Looking for Jane does feature main characters who are white, I like that the author acknowledges how similar policies were implemented differently for Indigenous persons.

Wherever you stand on the topic of abortion, I doubt this novel will change your mind. As someone who’s very much pro-choice, I came away from this novel with so much sympathy for all the women who were forced to rely on unsafe means to end their pregnancies, and so much admiration for those who, like the fictional Janes, helped give women safer options. I’m fortunate enough to live at a time and a country where such safe options are readily available to me, but I recognize that’s not the same everywhere in the world, and my heart goes out to women who don’t have that kind of access.

In her afterword, the author says she once thought this story was about abortion, but then realized it’s really about motherhood, and I think that’s very accurate. The novel does include characters who make the choice not to be mothers at all, and the narration does present this choice as equally valid. But mostly, through its three narrators, the novel shows how much richer an experience motherhood could be when this state is freely chosen. Evelyn wanted to be a mother; her baby was a product of true love. Her friend Margaret’s baby was a product of rape, but Margaret wanted to keep the baby as well. Both their choices were taken away by the nuns who forced them to sign adoption papers. Nancy’s story shows the contrast between an unwanted pregnancy, and one that happens when the person is ready and eager to be a parent. And Angela’s story of fertility treatments forms yet another piece of the spectrum, where someone actively wants to be a parent, yet biology may not make that possible.

The anti-abortion debate often presents the topic as an all or nothing dichotomy — either women want to be mothers or they don’t. But reality is much more complex than that. Many women who get abortions may already be mothers, or may choose to become mothers later on.  Looking for Jane doesn’t quite show the full spectrum of that complexity, but it does show multiple facets of it, which I liked. More than the dichotomy between motherhood and non-motherhood,  Looking for Jane frames the dichotomy around choices — do you have a choice over your own body, or is someone else (the state, the Church, your family) taking that choice away from you? In all cases, the novel very strongly supports you having the right to choose for yourself, and provides us with sensitive and textured examples of how such stories can play out.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for an e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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4 thoughts on “ review | looking for jane, by heather marshall ”.

What happened to the real Evelyn’s baby, I think I missed something. Thanks!

Eek! I’m afraid I have a terrible memory, and no longer remember. Sorry!

She was adopted as it was a lie that she had died

The author left that as a loose end. It was not revealed.

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“Looking For Jane” by Heather Marshall – Book Review

book review of looking for jane

Present – Angela Creighton

Angela works in a book/antique store in downtown Toronto. One day she discovers a lost letter, still sealed, some seven years after it should have been delivered. She opens it and reads – only to find that the contents are very distressing. She feels compelled to find the intended recipient. She was an adoptee herself and now she and her wife, Tina, are trying for a baby via IVF. The subject matter of the letter seems so personal to Angela.

1960s – Evelyn Taylor

book review of looking for jane

1970s – Nancy Mitchell

Nancy had loving parents and a wonderful upbringing. When she discovers, by accident, that she has been adopted her world is tilted upon its axis. It seems her birthmother loved her and didn’t want to give her up. Her birthmother called her ‘Jane’.

book review of looking for jane

There is nothing quite so gratifying as reading a really good debut novel AND learning about some groundbreaking history of your own country at the same time!  Abortion has been legal in Canada since 1988, so many are now rather complacent about the issue. What we have to remember is that before it was legalized many, many women died seeking abortions, and many, many fought – at great personal risk – to make abortion legal.

The characters in this novel fairly leapt off the pages in their authenticity. Weaving fiction with historical fact seems to come natural to the author as this is her debut novel. With themes of maternal love, adoption, abortion, and the right to choose, this is a timely novel given the fact that March is International Women’s Month.

book review of looking for jane

Publication date: March 1, 2022    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada

ISBN:  9781982170233   ASIN:  B09842LCDT     400 pages

book review of looking for jane

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12 responses to “looking for jane” by heather marshall – book review.

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As an adoptive mother, I found this novel so heart wrenching and insightful. I have always felt heartbroken for my son’s birth mother and wrote her a letter that my husband and I would love and do our best to love and nurture him with all that we could offer him. However it has been a roller coaster of a ride. He was always an exciting child, curious, intelligent, personable, and high energy, but as a teenager, he went totally off the rails. At first we thought it was teenage angst, but soon realized it was more than that. Innately he seems to have felt the rejection, though he has never voiced that. We were never allowed to meet his birth mother, though it was indicated to us that she loved him and wanted the best for him. She too had been adopted. When he would ask about her, we have always spoken highly of her and as he became a man, we have encouraged him to try to find her. I wish he would. I think it would help him to know a part of himself that needs to be revealed to him. Throughout his life, we have loved him, cherished him, supported him, but it’s never been quite enough. I wish he would seek out his birth mother, but I know it has to come from him.

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Thank-you so very much for sharing your story ❤️

Pingback: Fictionophile’s Top 22 Reads of 2022 – #BookRecommendations #GreatReads | Fictionophile

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I love that this book deals with Abortion History in Canada. I agree, Lynne, learning about history and women’s right in your own country makes this more tempting to me. Wonderful review.

Thanks Carla. It was an impressive debut novel that I think you would enjoy.

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sounds good Lynne, wonderful review!

Thanks Nicki. It was an impressive debut!

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Great review Lynne. This is an ARC I have but need to get to still. I am SO looking forward to it and from your review I am glad I requested it

I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did Katherine. 😍

Thanks Lynne, I hope so too

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Book Review: Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

By: Author Luka

Posted on Last updated: March 31, 2024

Categories Book Reviews

This post may contain affiliate links. Read more here .

Looking for Jane is a gripping and emotional novel that explores the choices and struggles women faced with unwanted pregnancies during the period from 1960 to the time abortion was legalized in Canada. The story follows the lives of several women whose experiences highlight the challenges women faced during a time when reproductive rights were limited.

The author, Heather Marshall, takes readers on a journey through time, examining the experiences of various women whose lives were impacted by the laws, societal norms, and stigmas surrounding pregnancy and motherhood.

To read my book club questions for Looking for Jane , click here .

The story opens in 2017, with Angela, a gay woman who is managing her Aunt Jo’s antiques store. After Angela is fired from her job because of her pregnancy, she discovers a seven-year-old letter meant for the apartment upstairs.

The letter, sent by Frances to Nancy Mitchell, reveals that Nancy was adopted and encloses a note from Nancy’s birth mother. Angela starts looking for Nancy and eventually searches for Nancy’s birth mother, Margaret.

Evelyn’s story

In 1960, Evelyn’s fiancé died of a heart attack when she was already pregnant with their child. Her parents gave her no choice but to be whisked off to St. Agnes’ Home for Unwed Mothers, where she was disowned. When Evelyn’s daughter was born, she too was taken away to be adopted.

Evelyn secreted a note to the adoptive parents and a pair of yellow booties in Jane’s blanket, and Evelyn always mourned this loss and made unsuccessful efforts to find Jane.

Years later, Evelyn, now a doctor, gets involved in providing women with illegal abortions that are carried out in a medically safe and very private way. Nancy has helped a cousin get a “back alley” abortion, and she requires emergency room care due to bleeding. The male doctor is hostile and tells them that when Evelyn comes on for the next shift, she will likely call the police.

Instead, Evelyn tells Nancy that if she ever learns of anyone else needing an abortion, the woman should call any gynecology office and ask for Jane. Evelyn has joined the “Jane” network, a group that is based on a similar network that existed in Chicago before abortion was legalized via Roe v. Wade.

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Nancy’s story

Nancy is one of the main characters in Looking for Jane . She accompanies her cousin Clara to get a back alley abortion, and Clara almost dies in one of the scenes in this emotionally wrought, and well thought out novel.

The novel takes place in Canada but has never been more relevant than now in the United States, where after June 25, 2022, abortion has become illegal again when Roe v. Wade has been overturned in most states by the Supreme Court.

The novel features a fictional accounting of well-developed plotting and character development of what also is a disgrace to some young girls who had the state, the church, and their parents decide whether or not they could keep their babies.

These young mothers were stripped of their choices during the post-war years by putting those babies up for adoption by sending these women off to live in Maternity homes. They would be abused and underfed and, suffered by having to work doing chores in these homes, and they were shunned by society, and had no say in the matter of keeping their babies.

Looking for Jane explores a range of themes, including motherhood, bodily autonomy, and the lengths women will go to in order to become pregnant or end a pregnancy. Marshall’s writing is both compelling and entertaining, drawing readers into the past and present of the characters in a nonlinear fashion. However, the ending is a bit much, and spoilers cannot be shared without revealing it.

The book also touches on the horrific experiences young pregnant unmarried women faced in maternity homes during the post-war years, where they were abused, underfed, shunned by society, and had no say in the matter of keeping their babies. Marshall’s well-developed plot and character development make the indignities these women suffered feel very real and relatable.

One of the strengths of this novel is the way it explores the complex emotional terrain surrounding motherhood and pregnancy. Marshall is adept at capturing the hopes, fears, and anxieties that come with trying to conceive and raise a child, as well as the difficult decisions that women must make when facing an unwanted pregnancy. The novel does not shy away from portraying the challenges of motherhood, from the pain of miscarriage to the difficult choices faced by women who are not ready or able to become mothers.

Another theme that runs throughout the novel is the power of women supporting each other. We see this in the friendship between Nancy and Clara, as well as in the “Jane” network, where women come together to provide safe and compassionate care to those seeking abortions. The novel shows how women have historically been forced to rely on each other for support and survival, and how this solidarity can help to overcome even the most difficult challenges.

Writing style

Marshall’s writing style is emotive and engaging, and she manages to capture the characters’ voices and experiences in a powerful way. The nonlinear structure of the novel adds to the suspense and keeps readers engaged throughout. The story’s setting in Canada adds to its relevance, given the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade in most states in the United States.

Marshall does an excellent job of weaving together the stories of these women from different time periods, showing how their experiences intersect and overlap in unexpected ways. We see how Evelyn’s decision to become involved in the “Jane” network has far-reaching consequences, and how her actions impact the lives of Nancy, Jane, and others.

The characters in the novel are vividly portrayed, with their stories capturing the essence of the historical period in which they lived. The author skillfully blends fact with fiction, creating a seamless narrative that educates and entertains.

Final thoughts

Looking for Jane is an insightful and poignant novel that highlights the struggles women have faced with unwanted pregnancies and the lengths they have gone to in order to assert their bodily autonomy. The novel is both entertaining and emotional, and Marshall’s writing style makes it a compelling read.

However, the ending may not be to everyone’s liking. Without giving away any spoilers, it can be said that the conclusion is surprising and unexpected, and may not be to everyone’s taste. However, it is a testament to Marshall’s skill as a writer that she is able to create such a memorable and thought-provoking ending that stays with the reader long after the book is finished.

Overall, Heather Marshall’s debut novel, “Looking for Jane,” is an impressive work of historical fiction that sheds light on the struggles of Canadian women’s reproductive rights. Marshall’s writing style is engaging and powerful, transporting the reader to the era of illegal abortions and the fight for reproductive rights.

The book is particularly timely, given that it was released during International Women’s Month, and its themes of maternal love, adoption, abortion, and the right to choose are as relevant today as they were during the period in which the novel is set.

I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction, stories about women’s experiences, and those interested in exploring the themes of motherhood and bodily autonomy.

I hope you enjoyed my book review for Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall! And as always, I wish you happy reading! ❤️

book review of looking for jane

Timely and engaging Looking for Jane deals sensitively with harrowing topics

This article was published more than 2 years ago. Some information may no longer be current.

book review of looking for jane

Heather Marshall's Looking For Jane is a confident debut that offers a fascinating, often disturbing insight into the state of Canadian women’s reproductive rights in our recent history. Amanda Kopcic/Supplied

  • Title: Looking for Jane
  • Author: Heather Marshall
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A young woman sits alone in an exam room of a Toronto emergency room. Her jeans are soaked with her cousin’s blood, who has been admitted after nearly collapsing on the subway while coming home from a backroom abortion.

Terrified of getting them both in trouble – it is 1979, and procuring and conducting an abortion is still a criminal act – the young woman, named Nancy, is trying to evade a doctor’s questions. She’s already dodged the accusations of a male doctor, who knows perfectly well how a young woman ends up almost hemorrhaging to death because of a perforated organ and has threatened her with the police. When another doctor appears in the doorway, she braces herself for another round of interrogation. Instead, the woman closes the door, explains she’s recording her cousin’s case as a miscarriage and then says something unexpected.

“If you, or a friend, or any other girl close to you ends up pregnant when they don’t want to be, you need to call around to doctors’ offices and ask for Jane,” she says quietly. “Call around, keep asking for Jane, and you’ll eventually get what you need.”

book review of looking for jane

In Looking for Jane, Heather Marshall tells her story using three interwoven timelines.

As the title might suggest, the matter of this “Jane” is central to Looking For Jane , a confident debut that offers a fascinating, often disturbing insight into the state of Canadian women’s reproductive rights in our recent history. If you mistakenly assumed Canada decriminalized abortion roughly around or even before Roe v. Wade, buckle up because a) it didn’t actually happen here until 1988 and b) as with so much of our past, it’s much darker than the halo effect of our (relatively) more progressive present would suggest.

Marshall tells her story using three interwoven timelines: Evelyn, a pregnant teenager in 1960, sent to a maternity home to have her baby on the quiet; the aforementioned Nancy in 1971, who strongly suspects she may have been adopted; and Angela in the present day, undergoing fertility treatments in order to conceive with her partner. The thread that initially ties the three stories together is a decade-old letter that Angela stumbles upon one day, although it quickly becomes clear that there is much more linking these women than just some misdirected mail – and yes, it is “Jane.”

For Evelyn, scarred by a traumatic experience in a maternity home run by nuns who profited from railroading vulnerable girls into giving up their babies for adoption, “Jane” refers not just to the baby she lost, but also to the cause to which she devotes her life: the Jane Network, a clandestine circle of doctors and activists who made safe abortions accessible to women when it was still illegal in Canada. It is here that her story intersects with that of Nancy, who “visits Jane” to have an abortion herself, but later becomes a volunteer in the high-stakes, high-pressure work, risking jail time if discovered. For Angela, connecting with Evelyn years later, “Jane” represents the sacrifices made and tragedies faced by the women who came before her – and also an actual person who’s part of a plot twist toward the end that might just try those with a low tolerance for soap-opera style melodramatic reveals. (It’s clever but so neat it’s a bit … silly?)

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Marshall has a master’s degree in history, and it’s obvious that this book, written in clear, easy-to-read prose, is deeply researched, almost to a fault. At times it suffers from something that often afflicts historical novels, wherein the characters somehow turn up at every relevant major event and experience the extreme of every real-life scenario, to a point where it strains the credulity of even those most willing to suspend their belief for narrative purposes. For example: Not only do the police raid Evelyn’s practice while she’s performing Nancy’s abortion (a scene based on real events), but a few years later they’re together again when another client of “Jane” turns out to be a cop wearing a wire, and they narrowly escape jail time (again, based on something that really happened.) This is not to say that this sequence of events couldn’t (and didn’t) happen to the same two people in real life, but sometimes it’s just a shoehorn-this-anecdote-I-found-in-my-research too far, you know?

Minor faults aside, this is an engaging book that deals sensitively with harrowing topics – adoption, abortion, miscarriage, abuse, suicide – with an emotional intelligence that means nothing ever feels gratuitous, or that real human pain is being exploited for plot’s sake. It is also a timely book, when the pandemic has affected Canadians’ often already limited access to reproductive care and services – and when, despite government promises, no federal legislation exists to actually define equitable access to abortion across Canada. And, as Marshall points out in her afterword, there has been no action on a 2018 committee recommendation that the government issue a formal acknowledgment and apology to the estimated 300,000 mothers who were forced or coerced into giving up their babies in those postwar maternity homes.

In many ways, it would appear we are still, as it were, looking for Jane.

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Review: ‘Looking for Jane’ is gripping, historical, relevant

This book cover image released by Atria shows "Looking for Jane" by Heather Marshall. (Atria via AP)

This book cover image released by Atria shows “Looking for Jane” by Heather Marshall. (Atria via AP)

book review of looking for jane

  • Copy Link copied

“Looking for Jane” by Heather Marshall (Atria)

Gripping from the moment it begins, Heather Marshall’s novel “Looking for Jane” is getting a well-deserved re-release to hit the post-Roe v. Wade United States market.

The story kicks off with a striking prologue: A letter informing Nancy that she was adopted is misdelivered, then misplaced. Years later, when Angela discovers it in a dusty antique drawer, it sends her down a road of discovery as she digs through generations of women in an effort to reunite the letter with its intended recipient.

But, despite the author’s clear stand on the side of abortion rights for all women, the novel is well-rounded in its representation of women in various stages of their lives with different reproductive goals.

Nancy is horrified after she begrudgingly accompanies a friend to an illegal abortion in 1979, when the two are in their teens. Angela is undergoing another stressful round of in vitro fertilization attempts for a desperately wanted pregnancy in 2017. And in 1960, Evelyn finds herself at one of Canada’s homes for unwed mothers, where she’s given no choice but to give her baby up for adoption.

Replete with oddly satisfying descriptions — “a pale, doughy man with a voice like cold oatmeal” — and good-natured cliffhangers, “Looking for Jane” has the momentum of a high-speed chase as Angela races back to uncover the past and Nancy and Evelyn’s timelines converge and then speed toward the future.

This undated self portrait made available by Little Brown publisher, shows author Caleb Carr and his cat Masha at his home in Cherry Plain, NY. Carr died of cancer Thursday, May 23, 2024, according to his publisher, Little, Brown and Company. (Caleb Carr/Little Brown via AP)

Marshall approaches these incredibly personal and emotionally difficult topics with empathy. Rare moments of fury or spite are tempered with a genuine look at the love and fear behind them, rendering characters sympathetic — people just trying to make the best choices they can under the circumstances. This continual, underlying warmth keeps the chilling subject matter and frigid Canadian weather from dampening the novel as a whole. Instead, comforting pops of color adorn the story: a flourishing summer lawn blooming with roses, the silky skin of a newborn, warm tea with family in the living room.

The late-book twist is impossible to see coming, but Marshall provides receipts, rendering it valid, clever and satisfying.

“Looking for Jane” also brings historical research to the table, drawing upon real-life accounts of often abusive post-war unwed mothers’ homes and even including a fictionalized version of Holocaust-survivor-turned-abortion-provider Henry Morgentaler.

Between the rolling back of abortion and health care rights in the United States after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, and the ongoing national reckoning that countries including Canada and Ireland are facing for atrocities committed in church-run homes , “Looking for Jane” is as relevant today as when it was originally released a year ago, and has the potential to remain pertinent for generations.

DONNA EDWARDS

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Submitting a book for review, write the editor, you are here:, looking for jane.

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Heather Marshall’s first novel, LOOKING FOR JANE, is centered on reproductive rights, the choice to be a mother and the power of a mother’s love. Already a bestseller in Canada and the United Kingdom, this masterful debut highlights the journeys of three women tied together by the ongoing fight for a woman’s right to choose.

In 2017, Angela Creighton is distracted by her fertility struggles when she clocks in to work at her aunt’s antique shop. Angela and her wife have tried five times to become pregnant, and she has just suffered her second miscarriage. Their funds and their patience are dwindling, but as an adoptee herself, Angela is desperate to carry a pregnancy to term, to hold her biological child and know that she has something truly her own. With all of these thoughts --- and an epic hangover --- rattling in her brain, she opens an antique bureau to discover a marble case holding old letters. Believing the recipients long dead, she is surprised to find one letter postmarked in 2010.

"LOOKING FOR JANE is a must-read for women of all ages, backgrounds and viewpoints. This graceful, poignant celebration of motherhood and the rights of women is a galvanizing wake-up call to continue the brave fight started so many decades ago."

When Angela opens it, she learns of Frances Mitchell, who wrote a letter to her daughter, Nancy, intended to be delivered only after Frances died. It informs Nancy (or Angela, as it were) that she was adopted, a secret that her parents held from her. But that’s not all. Only after the Mitchells adopted Nancy did they learn that St. Agnes’s Home for Unwed Mothers, the Catholic organization from which they purchased their daughter, was an abusive house of horrors in which young mothers were not only encouraged to give up their babies, they were forced to do so. Nancy’s biological mother hid a note in some hand-knit booties, and Frances held her secret to her death. With motherhood weighing heavily on her mind, Angela knows that she must find Nancy and put her mothers --- adoptive and biological --- at peace.

Jumping back to 1960, we meet Evelyn Taylor, a young pregnant woman who is St. Agnes’s newest “inmate.” Far from the image of promiscuous, “fast” young ladies, Evelyn has found herself pregnant shortly after the sudden, tragic death of her fiance, Leo. Had Leo lived only a few months longer, Evelyn would be seen as a mourning widow left with a miraculous gift, the opportunity to keep her husband’s legacy alive. Instead, she is told very plainly by the head nun that she has “gotten herself pregnant” and that giving up her baby will both allow her to repent and ensure that her reputation stays intact so she can one day marry and deliver a “legitimate” baby. While living at St. Agnes’s, Evelyn befriends a girl named Maggie. They bond over their dire straits, their desires to be mothers and, of course, the horrors of St. Agnes’s. As readers watch them deliver their babies and then see them ripped from their hands, Evelyn dreams of becoming a doctor one day.

Moving forward to 1980, we meet Nancy herself. At 18, Nancy helps her cousin seek an illegal, dangerous abortion, only to wind up carrying her cousin through a hospital as she hemorrhages to near death. Although Nancy is questioned, berated and accused by a male doctor who threatens to notify the authorities, a female doctor pulls her aside and advises her that if she, or any woman in her company, ever finds herself in this situation, she must call every doctor and hospital in the area and ask for “Jane.” Still reeling from the event, Nancy tries to forge her path to independence despite her smothering mother. After a shocking secret causes her to question everything she believes about herself, her family and women’s rights, she finds herself pregnant and finally seeks out a “Jane.”

As readers learn (and as some will know already), “Jane” was code for the Jane Collective, an underground women’s rights organization that sought to address the dangers of unsafe abortions being performed by untrained doctors. Janes worked diligently despite the risks to secure access to affordable, safe abortions for women from a variety of circumstances and backgrounds: teen lovers who had fallen pregnant, women whose miscarriages were incomplete, rape and incest victims, and more.

While Evelyn eventually grows up to become one of the practitioners of the Jane Collective, her journey is soon tied to Nancy, who finds her own place in the network. Angela continues her search for Nancy and her birth mother, hoping to reunite the two and find her own happy ending to her fertility journey, all while grappling with the horrors that befall women when they lose the right to choose…and the terrifying realization that conditions are not as far removed from the 1960s and ’70s as we may like to believe.

Weaving together these three women and their various pregnancy, fertility and motherhood journeys, Marshall pens a searing, devastating reminder of the battle that women have fought for decades (if not centuries) and the sacrifices they made to ensure the rights we hold today. While it could be advertised as an “abortion” novel, LOOKING FOR JANE --- thanks to Marshall’s meticulous research and emotionally resonant prose --- is so much more than an issue-based book and far more about motherhood than the antithesis of it.

As Marshall proves, the gray areas between wanting and not wanting to be a mother are full of complexities and nuances, personal details and haunting truths. While each of her characters faces the repercussions of the countless maternity homes that took advantage of unwed mothers, their journeys are entirely their own. As in every dual-perspective work of fiction, there’s also a compelling mystery at the heart of this book that will have readers racing through the pages to determine how the plotlines of Angela, Evelyn and Nancy will finally unite. While you may predict some of the connections, I can assure you that the most shocking one of all will knock you off your feet.

LOOKING FOR JANE is a must-read for women of all ages, backgrounds and viewpoints. This graceful, poignant celebration of motherhood and the rights of women is a galvanizing wake-up call to continue the brave fight started so many decades ago.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on February 24, 2023

book review of looking for jane

Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

  • Publication Date: January 16, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction , Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 1668015323
  • ISBN-13: 9781668015322

book review of looking for jane

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Book Review: Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

Looking for Jane

Check out Looking for Jane

Heather Marshall’s LOOKING FOR JANE is powerful and important.

A story of motherhood, a story of women, a story of our lack of choices and the fight to choose. The complexities of the women, their experiences, and the emotions portrayed in these pages always rang true.

Marshall doesn’t write in black and whites, but the world of greys we all live in, where moment to moment our feelings, our decisions, and our thoughts can shift and transform and merge; where seemingly ‘wrong’ choices are never so simple, but understandable and often justified. Being a woman in a world that for so long saw us as second-class citizens (and in some cases still does) is not an easy feat. But women are powerful, women are fighters, and it is our emotions, our tenderness, that although sometimes viewed as a weakness, is what makes us strong – LOOKING FOR JANE explores all of this.

It’s a story I’m sure I’ll be thinking about for weeks, from the details about homes for unmarried women I knew nothing about, to the details about back alley abortions I wished I’d known nothing about, to the fight for a woman’s right to choose, which I’d never really taken enough time to consider.

Clearly, Marshall is an excellent researcher. I often found myself wondering whether aspects of this novel were inspired by lived experience. The detail was so on point, the emotions, the scents, the texture: it all felt too real to simply be fiction. And based on the Author’s Note, it wasn’t, but rather what I imagine must have been months, if not years, of mining other women’s stories.

This novel of brave and determined women is a must-read that honours countless untold stories of a past that’s been too long-silenced, that in other countries still exists. Beautiful, heartbreaking, necessary, and memorable. Also, be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end!

Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for this advanced reading copy.

Author’s Website: heathermarshallauthor.com

LOOKING FOR JANE is currently available for preorder and releases March 1, 2022!

book review of looking for jane

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Looking for Jane

Looking for Jane

book review of looking for jane

Content Warning: Abortion, Suicide, Miscarriage 

A debut about three women whose lives are bound together by a long-lost letter, a mother’s love, and a secret network of women fighting for the right to choose—inspired by true stories.

2017: When Angela Creighton discovers a mysterious letter containing a life-shattering confession, she is determined to find the intended recipient. Her search takes her back to the 1970s when a group of daring women operated an illegal underground abortion network in Toronto known only by its whispered code name:  Jane .

1971: As a teenager, Dr. Evelyn Taylor was sent to a home for “fallen” women where she was forced to give up her baby for adoption—a trauma she has never recovered from. Despite harrowing police raids and the constant threat of arrest, she joins the Jane Network as an abortion provider, determined to give other women the choice she never had.

1980: After discovering a shocking secret about her family, twenty-year-old Nancy Mitchell begins to question everything she has ever known. When she unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she feels like she has no one to turn to for help. Grappling with her decision, she locates “Jane” and finds a place of her own alongside Dr. Taylor within the network’s ranks, but she can never escape the lies that haunt her.

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Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

A novel about underground abortion access in 1970s toronto, social sharing.

book review of looking for jane

Tell them you're looking for Jane.

When Angela Creighton discovers a mysterious letter containing a life-shattering confession in a stack of forgotten mail, she is determined to find the intended recipient. Her search takes her back to the 1970s when a group of daring women operated an illegal underground abortion network in Toronto known only by its whispered code name: Jane ...

As a teenager, Dr. Evelyn Taylor was sent to a home for "fallen" women where she was forced to give up her baby for adoption — a trauma she has never recovered from. Despite harrowing police raids and the constant threat of arrest, she joins the Jane Network as an abortion provider, determined to give other women the choice she never had.

After discovering a shocking secret about her family history, twenty-year-old Nancy Mitchell begins to question everything she has ever known. When she unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she feels like she has no one to turn to for help. Grappling with her decision, she locates "Jane" and finds a place of her own alongside Dr. Taylor within the network's ranks, but she can never escape the lies that haunt her.

Weaving together the lives of three women,  Looking for Jane  is an unforgettable debut about the devastating consequences that come from a lack of choice — and the enduring power of a mother's love. ( From Simon & Shuster )

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Heather Marshall is a writer from Toronto, Ontario. Before turning her attention to storytelling, Marshall worked in politics and communications. Looking for Jane is her first novel.

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Review: ‘Looking for Jane’ is gripping, historical, relevant

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“Looking for Jane” by Heather Marshall (Atria)

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Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 05/02/2023 (475 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Gripping from the moment it begins, Heather Marshall’s novel “Looking for Jane” is getting a well-deserved re-release to hit the post-Roe v. Wade United States market.

The story kicks off with a striking prologue: A letter informing Nancy that she was adopted is misdelivered, then misplaced. Years later, when Angela discovers it in a dusty antique drawer, it sends her down a road of discovery as she digs through generations of women in an effort to reunite the letter with its intended recipient.

This book cover image released by Atria shows

But, despite the author’s clear stand on the side of abortion rights for all women, the novel is well-rounded in its representation of women in various stages of their lives with different reproductive goals.

Nancy is horrified after she begrudgingly accompanies a friend to an illegal abortion in 1979, when the two are in their teens. Angela is undergoing another stressful round of in vitro fertilization attempts for a desperately wanted pregnancy in 2017. And in 1960, Evelyn finds herself at one of Canada’s homes for unwed mothers, where she’s given no choice but to give her baby up for adoption.

Replete with oddly satisfying descriptions — “a pale, doughy man with a voice like cold oatmeal” — and good-natured cliffhangers, “Looking for Jane” has the momentum of a high-speed chase as Angela races back to uncover the past and Nancy and Evelyn’s timelines converge and then speed toward the future.

Marshall approaches these incredibly personal and emotionally difficult topics with empathy. Rare moments of fury or spite are tempered with a genuine look at the love and fear behind them, rendering characters sympathetic — people just trying to make the best choices they can under the circumstances. This continual, underlying warmth keeps the chilling subject matter and frigid Canadian weather from dampening the novel as a whole. Instead, comforting pops of color adorn the story: a flourishing summer lawn blooming with roses, the silky skin of a newborn, warm tea with family in the living room.

The late-book twist is impossible to see coming, but Marshall provides receipts, rendering it valid, clever and satisfying.

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“Looking for Jane” also brings historical research to the table, drawing upon real-life accounts of often abusive post-war unwed mothers’ homes and even including a fictionalized version of Holocaust-survivor-turned-abortion-provider Henry Morgentaler.

Between the rolling back of abortion and health care rights in the United States after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, and the ongoing national reckoning that countries including Canada and Ireland are facing for atrocities committed in church-run homes, “Looking for Jane” is as relevant today as when it was originally released a year ago, and has the potential to remain pertinent for generations.

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Heather Marshall | #1 Bestselling Author of Looking for Jane

LOOKING FOR JANE

The smash hit #1 international bestseller everyone is talking about. available now, indigo (canada) barnes and noble (us) waterstones (uk) and in 13 other countries/languages add to your tbr list on goodreads, tell them you’re looking for jane..

2017 When Angela Creighton discovers a mysterious letter containing a life-shattering confession in a stack of forgotten mail, she is determined to find the intended recipient. Her search takes her back to the 1970s when a group of daring women operated an illegal underground abortion network in Toronto known only by its whispered code name: Jane . . . 1971 As a teenager, Dr. Evelyn Taylor was sent to a home for “fallen” women where she was forced to give up her baby for adoption—a trauma she has never recovered from. Despite harrowing police raids and the constant threat of arrest, she joins the Jane Network as an abortion provider, determined to give other women the choice she never had. 1980 After discovering a shocking secret about her family history, twenty-year-old Nancy Mitchell begins to question everything she has ever known. When she unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she feels like she has no one to turn to for help. Grappling with her decision, she locates “Jane” and finds a place of her own alongside Dr. Taylor within the network’s ranks, but she can never escape the lies that haunt her. Weaving together the lives of three women, Looking for Jane is an unforgettable debut about the devastating consequences that come from a lack of choice—and the enduring power of a mother’s love.

Praise for Looking for Jane

“Heather Marshall has pulled off a remarkable feat with this vital and incisive tale. It is at once an urgently necessary read and a pleasure to spend time with.  The characters felt like friends, their story deeply essential to my own existence. A brave, generous, capable exploration of what it means to be a mother, to be a woman, and to stand up for inexorable truths.”   – Marissa Stapley, New York Times bestselling author of  Lucky (a Reese’s Book Club pick)

“Heather Marshall shines a spotlight on the unsettling truths and heartbreaking realities faced by women of every generation.  Looking for Jane  is a compelling, courageous must-read about motherhood and choice.” – Genevieve Graham,  USA Today  and #1 bestselling author of  The Forgotten Home Child

“Looking for Jane  is an original and poignant story that holds a mirror to the ongoing fight for women’s rights. In reflecting on a dark spot in Canadian history, Heather Marshall speaks to the power of solidarity and of brave women who dare to take a stand.” – Ellen Keith, bestselling author of  The Dutch Wife

“ Looking for Jane  is a beautifully written meditation on the lengths mothers will go to for their children as well as an eye-opening history of women. It is an ode to the doctors, nurses, and volunteers who fought for the rights of future generations to have a say over their bodies. This gracefully entwined story of three generations of women, societal mores, and mothers and daughters stole my heart.” – Janet Skeslien Charles,  New York Times  bestselling author of  The Paris Library

“On its surface,  Looking for Jane  is an emotionally charged, meticulously researched and deftly plotted   book about an underground abortion service operating in the years before abortion was legalized, but in truth, it’s so much more than that. It’s a masterful debut about motherhood and choices, the things we keep, the things we lose, and the things that stay with us and change us at our core forever. Weaving together the tales of three women with a shared connection across the decades, Marshall tackles a time in the very recent past when women seeking an abortion, oftentimes after a rape, had to risk their lives or freedom to get one. Regardless of how you feel about the subject, this is not just an emotional read about tragedy, choice, courage, and fate, but also an important one, which puts a very human face to a complex issue. A searing, important, beautifully written novel about the choices we all make and where they lead us—as well as a wise and timely reminder of the difficult road women had to walk not so long ago.”  – Kristin Harmel, New York Times  bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars

“Marshall’s masterful novel succeeds on multiple fronts: as a poignant celebration of motherhood, and a devastating reminder of the consequences of denying women the right to choose. Fierce, beautifully written, and unforgettable.” – Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of  The Magnolia Palace

“A compelling story of three women whose lives become entwined as they each fight for the right to make their own choices about their bodies and motherhood. Beautifully written, with a cast of strong female characters I was rooting for from start to finish. I loved it.” – Caroline Bishop, author of The Other Daughter

“A fascinating and compelling story peopled with strong, brave women who had me cheering them on and moved to tears.” – Tracy Rees, author of  The Rose Garden

“Marshall vividly brings to life the dangers involved with operating Jane… a page-turner… readers will be moved by the courage and thoughtfulness with which these characters face their dilemmas.”   – Publishers Weekly “Marshall makes an absorbing debut with a timely novel about the complexities of pregnancy and motherhood… [a] deftly braided narrative, Marshall keeps the tension high as she reveals the devastating consequences of denying women autonomy over their bodies. A charged topic handled with sensitivity and compassion.” – Kirkus   Reviews

Copyright © 2024 Heather Marshall | #1 Bestselling Author of Looking for Jane · Theme by 17th Avenue

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Gb news anchor eamonn holmes “will address divorce from co-presenter” on tv show, heather marshall’s book ‘looking for jane’ in the works as series from celeste parr, bentframe film & tv & cineflix studios.

By Peter White

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book review of looking for jane

EXCLUSIVE : Looking for Jane, the book by Heather Marshall, is getting the small-screen treatment.

The project is in the works from BentFrame Film & TV, the Toronto-based production company run by Coroner exec producer Adrienne Mitchell, and Tehran and Reginald the Vampire producer Cineflix Studios .

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Parr recently wrote a screenplay for Ethel , a period musical drama and true story of conductor Ethel Stark.

Zach Marcovici will produce for BentFrame, with Sonia Hosko and Brett Burlock as executive producers for Cineflix Studios. Mitchell will serve as lead director.

Mitchell said, “BentFrame is all about telling powerful stories from unique perspectives which cast fresh insight on history and the many lived experiences we share. I can’t think of a better example than Heather’s exceptional novel, which shines a light on what might be history to some, but remains for many women a battle that is still being fought.” 

Marshall added, “I’m delighted that BentFrame has acquired the dramatic rights to Looking for Jane . From our first meeting, it was clear that Adrienne and Zach had the passion and experience needed to bring this story to the screen, and I was so pleased when I learned they had brought on Celeste as showrunner and screenwriter. I have every confidence their adaptation will thrill readers who are eager to see the Janes come to life on-screen!”

Parr said, “To be entrusted with this courageous, deeply emotional, and urgently-needed story by Heather Marshall is a waking dream. It’s my great privilege to join forces with Adrienne and Zach, with whom I instantly connected through our shared vision to bring this series to a global audience and celebrate those who have fought and continue to fight for reproductive justice for all.”

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A mother’s eloquent plea for justice in perilous times

Emily Raboteau’s “Lessons for Survival” wades through the many challenges that face us — and finds reason to hope.

Emily Raboteau was 10 when her father gave her “the talk.” Growing up in America “would be tough,” he told his young daughter and her two brothers. “Because of White supremacy, some people would think negatively of us, no matter how smart we were, no matter how poised, how well-dressed, well-spoken, or well-behaved. We would have to work twice as hard to get half as far.” Raboteau’s father, a professor at Princeton, punctuated his warning with a piece of family history: His father had been shot by a White man who was never punished.

In her new book, “ Lessons for Survival: Mothering Against ‘the Apocalypse,’ ” Raboteau writes that it was then she realized she had to figure out a way not only to stay safe but also to embrace her history and culture. As her father had put it: “Our Blackness wasn’t a life sentence but a gift. Our people had survived unspeakable atrocities and shaped history. Our ancestors kept faith, made music and community, found love and joy. Our culture was joyful. We belonged to a loving Black family. We should be cautious, but more than that, we should be grateful for our heritage.”

As she got older, Raboteau came to realize that embracing her culture included understanding that people of color and people without much money are much more likely to suffer not only from police attacks but also from pandemics, regional conflicts, rising seas, pollution, unaffordable health care and the indifference of politicians.

“Lessons for Survival” brings together essays Raboteau has written over the past dozen years, inspired by the births of her two sons and the fears, hopes and insights that caring for them has prompted. She finds reason for both fear and hope in birds, and one of her pleasures is birdwatching and viewing images of birds that have been painted on buildings in Upper Manhattan , photographs of which appear throughout the book. Her writing about being a mother is perceptive and eloquent: At one point, she and her husband are taking the boys, then 2 and 4, to a local park on a hot day. The 4-year-old is “stubborn,” and, she writes, “The heat knocked out the two-year-old as if it were a club.” But then, “our son was coaxed down the vertiginous stairs by the magical horn of an Amtrak train on the railway beneath the bridge.”

Raboteau — author of two previous books, “Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora” and the novel “The Professor’s Daughter” — is a natural investigator. She not only explores her neighborhood and her city, she travels. About halfway into the book is an essay about a trip she took to the Middle East in 2016. It was an assignment and also a way to visit one of her oldest friends, who works at an electric plant in the Hebron Hills.

Raboteau’s week in the Middle East is in June. The weather is dry and hot, and the world she finds herself in gives her a strong sense of what could happen in the near future if the issue of climate change doesn’t move to the very front of governmental concerns. The man who shows her around says, at one point, “In the spring, this is the most beautiful place in the world.” When he perceives that Raboteau doesn’t understand how he could think so, he adds, “It’s so calm.” His remark pushes Raboteau to pay attention to (and write perceptively about) how the people she talks to and watches make their way through the hardships of their lives: For one thing, according to her guide, the locals are allowed only 20 gallons of water per day, but they put up with it and are determined to stay. As Raboteau explores, she sees many similarities between the way Palestinians are treated and the way Black people are treated, and always have been treated, in the United States. These days, that is something more people, especially young people, seem to be aware of.

But she felt a moment of hope when she looked up at the night sky, “now punched through with a thousand stars and streaked with meteors. Its perfect clarity made me gasp.”

What will save us? The lesson from Raboteau’s book is that it has to be curiosity, willingness to learn, patience and love — not only for your children and your spouse, but also for nature, even the sparse nature around Spuyten Duyvil Creek, a tidal estuary between the Hudson and Harlem rivers. When Raboteau walks there, she sees and connects to trees, plants, birds and a strip of “lowland swamp forest,” and contemplates the way that the Lenape Native Americans managed to live there for far longer than we have.

The question is, how do we push politicians and corporations to figure out how to save our environment and acknowledge the economic and ecological discrepancies that plague our culture? I suggest that every single one of them be required to read “Lessons for Survival.” Even for someone like me, always sympathetic to ecological concerns, it is eye-opening.

Jane Smiley is the author of many books and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for “A Thousand Acres.” Her latest is the novel “Lucky.”

Lessons for Survival

Mothering Against ‘the Apocalypse’

By Emily Raboteau

Henry Holt. 304 pp. $29.99

A previous version of this article misstated the title of a previous book by Emily Raboteau. It is "Searching for Zion," not "Searching for Survival." The article has been corrected.

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Check out our coverage of this year’s Pulitzer winners: Jayne Anne Phillips won the fiction prize for her novel “ Night Watch .” The nonfiction prize went to Nathan Thrall, for “ A Day in the Life of Abed Salama .” Cristina Rivera Garza received the memoir prize for “ Liliana’s Invincible Summer .” And Jonathan Eig received the biography prize for his “ King: A Life .”

Best books of 2023: See our picks for the 10 best books of 2023 or dive into the staff picks that Book World writers and editors treasured in 2023. Check out the complete lists of 50 notable works for fiction and the top 50 nonfiction books of last year.

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book review of looking for jane

book review of looking for jane

‘My Lady Jane’ Trailer: Prime Video’s ‘Radical Retelling Of English Royal History,’ Based On The Book

Prime Video has dropped the first trailer for My Lady Jane, described as “a swashbuckling romantasy series set in an alt-fantasy Tudor world.”

All eight episodes of the series drop on June 27.

Here’s the official description:

Inspired by the best-selling book, My Lady Jane is a radical retelling of English royal history, in which King Henry VIII’s son Edward does not die of tuberculosis, Lady Jane Grey is not beheaded, and neither is her scoundrel of a husband Guildford. At the center of this swashbuckling new series is the brilliant and headstrong Jane, who is shocked to be crowned queen and finds herself the target of nefarious villains coming for the crown (and her head)… My Lady Jane is an epic tale of true love and high adventure. 

The cast is led by newcomer Emily Bader in the titular role of Jane Grey, with Edward Bluemel starring opposite her as Guildford Dudley.  Jordan Peters plays King Edward. Dominic Cooper plays Lord Seymour, Anna Chancellor plays Jane’s mother, Lady Frances Grey, and Rob Brydon plays Lord Dudley, Guildford’s father.  Jim Broadbent is the Duke of Leicester, Jane’s uncle.

Additionally, Henry Ashton plays Guildford’s brother, Stan, and Isabella Brownson and Robyn Betteridge play Jane’s sisters. Kate O’Flynn and Abbie Hern portray theKing’s sisters, Princess Mary and Princess Bess. Máiréad Tyers, Joe Klocek and Michael Workeye also star.

Series creator Gemma Burgess is co-showrunner/executive producer, with Meredith Glynn also co-showrunner and executive producer. Laurie MacDonald and Sarah Bradshaw are also executive producers. Jamie Babbit directs five of the eight episodes and is producing director/executive producer.

Watch the trailer below:

‘My Lady Jane’ Trailer: Prime Video’s ‘Radical Retelling Of English Royal History,’ Based On The Book | Photo: Prime Video

  • Artificial Intelligence /

Humane is looking for a buyer after the AI Pin’s underwhelming debut

The startup apparently thinks it’s worth between $750 million and $1 billion despite the deep software flaws and hardware issues of its first product..

By Chris Welch , a reviewer specializing in personal audio and home theater. Since 2011, he has published nearly 6,000 articles, from breaking news and reviews to useful how-tos.

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book review of looking for jane

Humane, the startup behind the poorly-reviewed AI Pin wearable computer , is already hunting for a potential buyer for its business. That’s according to a report from Bloomberg , which says the company — led by former longtime Apple employees Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno — is “seeking a price of between $750 million and $1 billion.”

That might be a tough sell after the $699 AI Pin’s debut: the device has been widely panned for its slow responses and a user experience that falls well short of the always-on, wearable AI assistant concept that its founders promised in the run-up to the device’s release. The product was pitched at least partially as a way for people to be more present and reduce their ever-growing dependence on smartphones.

Humane developed its own operating system called CosmOS that runs on the AI Pin. It hooks into a network of AI models to fetch answers for voice queries and to analyze what the built-in camera is pointed at. For some interactions, the device beams out a laser “display” that is projected onto the wearer’s inner palm. A monthly subscription is required to keep the device active.

The Bloomberg report notes that Humane has raised $230 million from investors including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, who is rumored to be developing an unrelated product ( in collaboration with legendary Apple designer Jony Ive ) that could better showcase AI’s promise.

Humane was valued at $850 million by investors in 2023, but that was before its first-ever product was universally criticized by reviewers. There are some novel and clever ideas in there, but the AI Pin’s software is underbaked and too inconsistent, and the hardware has exhibited poor battery life and overheating issues. Humane has pledged to address some of those bugs with firmware updates. Just last week, it rolled out OpenAI’s GPT-4o model to further enhance the device’s smarts.

The list of potential buyers for Humane seems quite small considering the price that the startup is hoping to fetch. Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft are all making significant pushes into the AI realm — with large language models and generative AI becoming more prevalent by the day — but it’s unclear how much value Humane’s intellectual property would really bring to any of their ongoing efforts.

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‘Stax: Soulsville, U.S.A.’ Review: Looking for a Little Respect

An HBO series tells the triumphant, tragic story of the record label Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes and the Staple Singers called home.

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Isaac Hayes onstage in red pants and gold chains, holding a saxophone

By Mike Hale

Multipart music documentaries come at us these days with the insistence and abundance of the old K-tel collections , scrambling to satisfy the cravings of every variety of pop nostalgist. Recent months have added “James Brown: Say It Loud” (A&E), “In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon” (MGM+), “Kings From Queens: The Run DMC Story” (Peacock) and “Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story” (Hulu), among others, to the rotation.

That’s four Rock & Roll Hall of Fame acts right there. But if you are looking for something even bigger — the arc of America across the 1960s and ’70s, set to a rough and infectious soundtrack — I know a place: “Stax: Soulsville, U.S.A.,” premiering Monday on HBO.

The stormy, relatively short history of Stax Records (it went from founding to bankruptcy in 18 years) is rich material, shaped by a serendipitous blend of personality, geography and studio acoustics and propelled by the regional dynamics of race, class and music in Memphis, away from the record-industry centers of New York and Los Angeles.

The director Jamila Wignot, who has profiled Alvin Ailey for “American Masters” and directed episodes of Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s “Finding Your Roots,” brings more organizational sense than imaginative flair to the four-episode series. “Soulsville, U.S.A.” gives a conventional talking-heads treatment to a story that calls out for more. But that story, tracking from innocence to cynicism and triumph to calamity, is so involving that Wignot’s straightforward approach isn’t fatal.

And the interviewees doing the talking are a notably varied and engaging group. They include the white farm boy Jim Stewart, earnest, folksy and disastrously naïve, who founded the label with his sister Estelle Axton; the charismatic Black businessman Al Bell, who came on as promotions director and saved the company when it seemed doomed, only to preside over its eventual demise; and Booker T. Jones, leader of the house band Booker T. and the M.G.’s, who looms over the early episodes like a cool, cryptic, scholarly guru of soul.

The story of Stax begins with Stewart and Axton’s willingness, born of both openness and necessity, to work with the musicians who happened to be around, many of whom were Black and untested. (Jones relates the well-known anecdote of how he was pulled out of his high school algebra class for his first Stax session.) Stewart quickly abandoned country music and embraced the urgent, deeply felt rhythm and blues and Southern soul that performers like Carla and Rufus Thomas, Sam & Dave, and Otis Redding provided, backed by Booker T. and the M.G.’s and shepherded by songwriter-producers like Isaac Hayes and David Porter.

The early Stax hits, as the company’s fortunes steadily rose through the mid-60s, flow through the first two hours of “Soulsville U.S.A.,” and they carry you along on a continual, grinning high. The electrifying live performances include Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin’” during the European tour that certified the label’s ascendance and Redding’s epochal “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” at the Monterey Pop festival. (The series uses a fair bit of footage from D.A. Pennebaker’s “Monterey Pop” documentary and the 1973 concert film “Wattstax,” but the performances are riveting no matter how many times you’ve seen them.)

“Soulsville, U.S.A.” divides neatly into two halves, the first culminating in the catastrophes that almost took Stax down the first time around: Redding’s death in a plane crash in 1967 followed by Atlantic Records’ appropriation of nearly the entire Stax catalog in 1968, the result of a contract Stewart had signed but not read. The second half becomes more about business and culture and less about music, as Bell revives the company and rides the Black power movement to a new level of national prominence (with Hayes’s Oscar-winning “Theme From ‘Shaft’” and the Wattstax concert) but runs afoul of another major-label partner, CBS Records, and can’t stop a quick slide into bankruptcy.

In the last two installments Jones, who left the label in 1970, fades out and the primary voices are those of Bell and the former Stax publicity director Deanie Parker. The story they tell is that the upstart company was killed off by a racist record industry and a racist Memphis business establishment specifically because it was Black-led and, eventually, Black-owned. It’s easy enough to believe, but the lack of less partial, more analytical voices is noticeable and unfortunate. (Some context is provided by the music writer Rob Bowman, whose book “Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records” is credited as a primary source for the documentary.)

It has been nearly half a century since Stax existed as anything more than a name on a reissue label, a fate poignantly conveyed by the onscreen message, following the HBO logo, “In association with Polygram Entertainment, Concord Originals, Warner Music Entertainment” — the companies that own the Stax songs on the soundtrack. As Al Bell says, “The big fish eat the little fish.” But the songs can still take you there.

Mike Hale is a television critic for The Times. He also writes about online video, film and media. More about Mike Hale

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Heather Marshall

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Looking for Jane: A Novel

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Looking for Jane: A Novel Paperback – March 1, 2022

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  • Print length 400 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date March 1, 2022
  • Dimensions 6.13 x 1.1 x 9.25 inches
  • ISBN-10 1982170239
  • ISBN-13 978-1982170233
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About the author, excerpt. © reprinted by permission. all rights reserved., chapter 1 angela toronto | january 2017 angela creighton is late for work. she was up late the night before, and this morning she wakes with a poorly timed migraine. careful not to disturb her wife’s sunday morning lie-in, she tiptoes to the kitchen, where she washes down a painkiller with a glass of pulpy orange juice, toasts a bagel, and slathers it with too much garlic cream cheese. clamping her breakfast between her teeth like a retriever, she tugs on a hat and cinches the waist tie on her plaid coat, then quietly closes the apartment door and hurries down the stairs of the walk-up. out on the sidewalk, angela rushes to the bus stop as she munches the bagel while fishing her sunglasses out of her purse. normally she would enjoy it, since sunny days in the winter are few and far between. but the light is making her wince and her head is throbbing like a bullet wound behind her eyes. she was over at her friend jenn’s last night for their monthly book club, which had, as so many book clubs are wont to do, descended into a wine club over the past six months. now they drink too much cheap pinot grigio, inhale charcuterie and cheese with a desperation that suggests it might be their last meal on death row, and sometimes talk about books they’ve read. angela hadn’t taken part in any wine-drinking pursuits for the past several months, but she let herself go last night. it was the sole, pathetic shred of silver lining from the miscarriage, and she capitalized on it in spectacular form. she and tina will be setting out on another round of fertility treatments once her body heals enough to try again, so she figured she may as well enjoy the booze in the meantime. it’s her second miscarriage in a year, and the stakes are starting to feel higher every time an insemination treatment or a pregnancy fails. a steady flow of alcohol helps the hurdles appear a little lower, if only for a short while. the bus trundles up to the curb and angela boards, drops a token into the metal slot, and finds an empty seat near the rear door. the shop she manages—thompson’s antiques & used books—is less than ten blocks west, and she stumbles off the bus onto the slushy curb a few stops later. the entrance to the shop is just inches from the edge of the sidewalk on bustling college street, and angela presses herself against the door to stay out of the way of the passing pedestrians as she fumbles with her keys. throwing her hip a little against the old warped wood, she bursts her way inside and shuts the door behind her. angela likes it in here. it’s a peculiar hybrid of a shop, home to plenty of used books that cycle through its doors on a regular basis, and a motley collection of antiques that never seem to sell. it smells like furniture polish, coffee, and that dusty scent of old books that’s both rotten and enormously appealing. it isn’t a big space, only the size of a modest apartment. there’s a small storeroom behind the cash desk that houses several dusty, neglected boxes and a cheap drip coffee maker angela brought in during her first week on the job. she feels her mood lift a fraction at the now-familiar smell of the place. she’s always been a book lover, and she and tina share an eclectic taste in decor, so the whimsy of the antiques shop suits her just fine. there’s always a bit of buried treasure to be discovered in here. angela flicks the light switches, walks to the old writing desk they use as a sales counter, and slides her purse underneath with her foot. she turns on the computer till—by far the most advanced piece of technology in the shop—then retreats to the storeroom to put on a pot of mercilessly potent dark roast. when she was pregnant, all she drank was decaf, determined that the placebo effect of coffee could still be achieved by brewing it at double strength. but today, with a sharp jab of bitterness to her heart, she puts on a large pot of regular brew. chipped mug of coffee in hand, angela mentally shakes herself and sets about the usual tasks of sorting new inventory and following up on order holds. for the life of her, she can’t imagine why the store has stayed in business this long, especially with real estate prices being what they are in this city. the small apartment over the shop has been rented out as additional unnecessary income since the property was first purchased by angela’s aunt jo (who married old money and really has no need for employment). although she could easily sell the place for a fortune in a matter of days, angela suspects her aunt has kept the shop running simply for something to talk to her immaculately groomed friends about during their weekly manicures. prior to starting at thompson’s, angela had hopped around in retail, most recently working for an uptight manager at an overpriced shoe store. although she couldn’t prove it, angela suspects she was “laid off for the season due to a decrease in sales” when her boss found out about the pregnancy several weeks too early. he was a fifty-something conservative and borderline homophobe, almost certainly of the school who believed maternity leave was nothing but a corporate inconvenience. angela had confided the news of her pregnancy to a coworker after she ran out of excuses for her frequent trips to the staff washroom to throw up, and she’s sure the coworker blabbed. so when she found herself out of work, smack in the middle of her thirties after undergoing budget-draining fertility treatments, she plumbed all her networks looking for a new job— any job—that would allow her and tina to pay their rent and still build a nest egg for their new addition. at their last family thanksgiving, aunt jo, with a wave of her magnificently bejeweled hand, offered angela a managerial role at the shop so that she herself could “finally start phasing into retirement.” though her experience with antiques was negligible at best, angela was in no position to decline, and she knew aunt jo wouldn’t ever fire her own niece for becoming pregnant. jo handed her the keys three days later. on sundays, angela’s the sole staff member, but it’s usually a sleepy day anyway, particularly in the fall and winter months when tourism slows to a glacial crawl. after the new inventory is sorted, she moves on to the task of processing the unclaimed holds. this is one of the most frustrating chores on angela’s list. eight times out of ten, the furniture is reserved by an eager out-of-town “antique hunter” (usually self-proclaimed and newly minted) who journeyed into the city with rich friends on a shopping excursion. they shiver with glee at a prospective purchase, then demand a hold be placed so they can come back with a truck of appropriate size with which to haul away the object of that saturday’s treasure hunt. and almost every time, the shopper then dodges angela’s phone calls long enough that she releases the hold, and the would-be buyer is spared the shame of admitting the sale was a passing fancy. this process means that angela spends a good portion of her sunday mornings tearing pink hold stickers off the items and leaving them in their cozy corners of the shop, where they can await the next near-purchase tease, like aging orphans. first on the list is a small three-drawer dresser. angela knows exactly which one it is, and wanders to the very back of the shop. approaching it, she notices the bright pink slip of paper that indicates a hold stick-tacked to the front of the top drawer. she yanks the slip of paper off, causing the dresser to lurch and the drawer to slide out a notch. “ah shit. ouch” coffee splashes over her hand. she licks it off, then peers through the crack, glimpsing a curious spot of white inside the darkness of the drawer. she casts her eyes around for a safe place to set her mug. she uses the pink hold slip in lieu of a coaster and places her coffee on a nearby bookshelf, then pulls open the drawer. just then, the bells above the door jingle, welcoming the first customer of the day. with a knot of intrigue in her stomach, angela shuts the drawer and navigates her way back to the front, carefully stepping over and around piles of haphazardly stacked books. “hello” she calls. “hi, there,” says a teenage girl with mousy brown hair and hunched shoulders. “is there anything i can help you with” angela asks, pulling her scarf closer around her shoulders. a wintry draft has swept in with the girl, which irritates angela, somewhat unfairly, she knows. she wants to get back to the drawer. “not really. i’m just browsing, but thanks.” “certainly,” angela replies. “let me know if you need anything.” the girl smiles vaguely and turns to inspect the nearest bookshelf. it’s the politest possible snub, but angela takes it as a welcome dismissal. she returns to the dresser and opens the top drawer again. reaching in, she removes a heavy marble box and places it gently on the weathered floorboards. it was the white stone that caught her attention. nearly all the antiques in the shop are made of some variety of wood. the rest is mostly brass and silver: tarnished picture frames with intricate victorian scrolling, hand mirrors that call to mind regency-era puffy hairstyles capped with lace bonnets, and collectible teaspoons with faded crests and intricate familial coats of arms. angela hasn’t seen anything made of marble since she began working at thompson’s, and this is a beautiful ivory stone shot with sparkling grey ripples that some antique hunter may actually want to buy. abandoning her lukewarm coffee, angela carries the box to the front desk. she glances up to check the browsing status of her single patron, then perches on the bar-height stool and flips open the gold clasp of the box. inside is a stack of what appears to just be yellowed paper, but as she removes one of the pages, she notices the elegant cursive handwriting on the front of the top envelope. letters. a stack of them. angela lifts them out one by one, counting—five letters. all old, by the look of them. not surprising , she thinks, given that this is an antiques shop. that, and the fact that no one really sends letters much anymore. that aging, once-bustling pursuit is now undertaken solely by stubborn, overperfumed elderly ladies. she holds one of the letters up to the light flooding in from the storefront windows. unlike its fellows, which are naked of their former envelopes and appear to be mostly bank statements, this one is still sealed, the edge along the flap slightly bubbled, as though the glue had been wet with too much moisture. the stamp looks modern. the slanting cursive writing in the top left-hand corner of the envelope lists the return addressee as one mrs. frances mitchell. it’s addressed to ms. nancy mitchell, and something stirs behind angela’s navel as she reads the address of the antiques shop. the writing looks shaky, though angela can tell it had, in decades long past, been beautiful, graceful penmanship. bang her heart shoots into her throat. she looks over to see the mousy-haired girl muttering an apology as she bends to scoop up a large book. angela manages a small smile, her pulse still pounding, but the girl waves goodbye with a mumbled, “thank you,” and the bells above the door jingle as she exits the shop, ushering in another gust of cold air. relieved to be alone again, angela runs her fingers over the edge of the envelope seal, weighing her intrigue. the date stamped in red ink across the top of the envelope says the letter was posted in 2010. and yet it remained unopened. who had it been intended for did the letter simply go astray from its destination but no, the shop’s address is indeed scrawled across the front, along with the mysterious name of nancy mitchell. it was destined for this address. angela knows it’s technically a crime to open another person’s mail, but her curiosity has bested her moral code. she plucks the brass letter opener from the heavily ink-speckled mason jar they use as a pen cup, slides the tip underneath the corner of the envelope flap, and, with a satisfying tear, slits it open. she pulls the letter out and unfolds it with the tips of her fingernails, as though avoiding the traces of incriminating fingerprints. the paper is heavy and lightly textured. expensive. purchased by someone who wrote a lot of letters and took the time to make sure they carried weight. intrigued, angela begins to read, eyes darting back and forth across the page underneath her dark bangs: dear nancy, it is my intent that this letter reaches you after i am gone. i instructed my lawyer mr. klein to post this upon my passing. i am sorry for this, and i have my reasons, but i wanted to ensure you were made aware of certain facts pertaining to your own history. nancy, i have loved you as much as a mother can love her daughter. i have done the best i know how, been the best mother i could. although, my dear, i am human, and therefore imperfect. there is no way to tell you this other than to simply write the words: your father and i are not your biological parents. we adopted you as a baby. we tried for years, prayed hard and daily for god to send us a child, but it was not to be. and so we sought out a baby girl to adopt, and were referred by our family doctor to st. agnes’s home for unwed mothers here in toronto. you were born on the day you know to be your birthday: april 25th, 1961. we were told your birth mother and father were a young couple, only teenagers, who were unmarried and had lost their way. they had no money, and could not afford to raise you. they said your mother gave you up willingly for adoption, with a heavy heart and a hope that we could provide you with a brighter future than she could, young and poor as she was. her story broke our hearts, but we thanked god for her selflessness and for bringing us this most precious gift. our celebration was her grief. we raised you and loved you as our own. the priest and warden at st. agnes’s counselled us not to tell you, to simply move on as though you were our own child from god, that it would be easier for you that way. we took their advice. we believed they knew best. but not a day has gone by that i have not questioned that decision. when we brought you home, i found a pair of yellow booties tucked deep inside the blanket they had wrapped you in. i assumed your birth mother had sent them as a gift of goodwill, but i couldn’t bear to use them, so i locked them in a safe drawer. i was afraid if i told you about her, that you would see me differently, and i couldn’t help but imagine her out there somewhere missing you terribly. i tried to rid myself of my guilt by lighting a candle at church and praying for her every year on your birthday. but here, my darling… here is where i must beg you, with every ounce of my heart and soul, for your forgiveness. not long after your wedding, your father and i discovered that you were not given up for adoption willingly and with a full heart, as we had been told. we were lied to, nancy. and we, in turn, have lied to you. there was a story on the news about some girls who had sought refuge at st. agnes’s, but were forced to give up their children by threat or worse. the home was shut down not long after you were born. the people who ran it seemed to us to be good people. we wanted a child so desperately, and we believed them. we had no reason not to. we did not know. after the news story, i revisited the drawer and found the enclosed note stuffed deep inside the toe of one of the boots. you can read it for yourself, my dear. your father did not want to tell you, even then. and then he was gone, and still i didn’t tell you. i have no excuse for myself other than cowardice. i am so sorry, nancy. if i have learned anything from this, it is not to keep secrets. they fester like wounds, and take even longer to heal once the damage sets in. it’s permanent, and crippling, and i want more for you than that. your mother’s name was margaret roberts. she was much younger than me when she gave birth to you, so she may still be alive. i would encourage you to seek her out, to find solace in my death by reuniting with your other mother, as i have called her in my mind all along. i want you to move forward, and i hope you will not hold resentment for your father or i. i have loved you with the deepest love in my heart, my darling. and so i know how hard it may have been for your other mother, for margaret. since i read her note, i have prayed every day for her forgiveness. i have taken care of her child, my child—our child—with tenderness. but i suppose god will settle our accounts as he sees fit. it is in his hands now. please forgive me, dear. i pray we will meet again one day, a long time from now. mum angela places the letter down on the writing desk and reaches for a box of tissues to dab the tears that have sprung to her eyes. “jesus christ.” she thinks of her own family, of the mother she knows as mom, and the woman who gave birth to her, sheila, whom she finally met five years ago. to have lived her entire life not knowing she was adopted is a foreign, devastating concept. her heart bleeds for all three of these women: the daughter nancy; her mother frances, who carried the weight of this secret for so long only to have the confession go astray; and margaret roberts, scribbling in a hidden note that she was forced to give her baby up for adoption… the note . “where is it” angela asks the empty store. she checks the desk, then leans down to scan the floor. when she shakes the envelope, a small piece of paper flutters onto the desk like confetti. it’s yellowed, and a bit wrinkled. one of its edges is singed, as though it were nearly burned at some point. angela reads the brief handwritten missive. it’s only two lines long, but she lingers on the last five words, her vision blurring. she rereads the note several times before setting it on top of the letter. she needs advice. she reaches for her phone, cradling it in her hand as she considers whom to call first. after a quick scroll, she clicks on the name and puts the phone to her ear, wipes away a lingering tear from her cheek. “mom hi, it’s me. do you have a minute to talk”, product details.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Simon & Schuster (March 1, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 400 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1982170239
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1982170233
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.13 x 1.1 x 9.25 inches
  • #2,537 in Friendship Fiction (Books)
  • #5,190 in Mothers & Children Fiction
  • #7,254 in Women's Friendship Fiction

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Heather marshall.

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Frankly Fabulous

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1890 W El Norte Pkwy

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This charming boutique is a great new addition to Escondido's Country Club neighborhood, in the little shopping plaza of West El Norte across from the Blue Mug. Frankly Fabulous carries all kinds of gifts, apparel, jewelry, and more. They pride themselves in featuring "one of a kind Fabulous Finds". My wife and I were so impressed with the variety and selection, as well as the pricing. We actually spent quite some time looking at many of these wonderful items before purchasing a gift for our daughter. I had a good laugh at a few of the clever items they featured, including the "Blind Date with a Book" and the many great and fun cards. Cynthia, the owner, is a delight, and provides wonderful service. Frankly Fabulous is "must visit" addition to the neighborhood. With a $500 shopping spree giveaway coming up with registration by 2/29/2024 and Valentines Day coming up you have a couple of good reasons to make this a stop.

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Wonderful new little neighborhood shop for wimen's clothing, gifts, jewelry and more. I enjoyed the conversation with shop owner and had a great time mixing and matching pieces for an upcoming trip. Great place for husbands to shop for their wives too, just sayin'

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I really enjoyed my shopping experience at Frankly Fabulous today! The owner, Cynthia is warm and welcoming and helped me with my selection. I found a beautiful popcorn poncho in my favorite color as well as an accessory. She offers a great selection of unique gift items, women's clothing and accessories. I will definitely be shopping here again, and I highly recommend it!

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COMMENTS

  1. Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

    Looking For Jane is a story about three women whose lives are connected by a long-lost letter, secrets, loss, and the fight for women's right to choose. This is an exemplary debut novel that pulled me immediately into the story with its strong writing, well-defined characters, and its focus on the hard-fought struggle for women's reproductive ...

  2. LOOKING FOR JANE

    Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers' clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world.

  3. Looking for Jane : Book summary and reviews of Looking for Jane by

    This information about Looking for Jane was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter.Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication.

  4. Review

    Looking for Jane is about motherhood, and women's rights over our own bodies. It follows the story of three women across three timelines: Evelyn Taylor in 1971, who was forced to give up her baby for adoption at St Agnes, a Catholic home for unwed mothers; Nancy Mitchell in 1980, who learns she's adopted, and that her parents have kept it secret all her life; and Angela Creighton in 2017 ...

  5. "Looking For Jane" by Heather Marshall

    A moving fictional portrait that puts a human face on the history of Canadian women's reproductive rights, " Looking For Jane " is a novel that is entertaining and informative in equal measure. It is an impressive debut that I highly recommend.

  6. Book Review: Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

    Final thoughts. Looking for Jane is an insightful and poignant novel that highlights the struggles women have faced with unwanted pregnancies and the lengths they have gone to in order to assert their bodily autonomy. The novel is both entertaining and emotional, and Marshall's writing style makes it a compelling read.

  7. Review: Timely and engaging Looking for Jane deals sensitively with

    Title: Looking for Jane Author: Heather Marshall Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Simon & Schuster Pages: 400 A young woman sits alone in an exam room of a Toronto emergency room. Her jeans ...

  8. Review: 'Looking for Jane' is gripping, historical, relevant

    Gripping from the moment it begins, Heather Marshall's novel "Looking for Jane" is getting a well-deserved re-release to hit the post-Roe v. Wade United States market. The story kicks off with a striking prologue: A letter informing Nancy that she was adopted is misdelivered, then misplaced. Years later, when Angela discovers it in a ...

  9. Looking for Jane

    Looking for Jane. by Heather Marshall. Publication Date: January 16, 2024. Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction. Paperback: 400 pages. Publisher: Atria Books. ISBN-10: 1668015323. ISBN-13: 9781668015322. 2017: When Angela Creighton discovers a mysterious letter containing a life-shattering confession, she is determined to find the intended recipient.

  10. Book Review: Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

    Heather Marshall's LOOKING FOR JANE is powerful and important. A story of motherhood, a story of women, a story of our lack of choices and the fight to choose. The complexities of the women, their experiences, and the emotions portrayed in these pages always rang true. Marshall doesn't write in black and whites, but the world of greys we ...

  11. Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

    However, this book is about so much more than abortion; it shows the emotional effect of dealing with fertility issues and the long-term impact of adoption on families and adopted children. It's also interesting to note that the title for this book comes from The Jane Collective, a code name for a real-life underground network in 1960s Chicago ...

  12. Looking for Jane

    Title: Looking For Jane. Author: Heather Marshall. Content Warning: Abortion, Suicide, Miscarriage. A debut about three women whose lives are bound together by a long-lost letter, a mother's love, and a secret network of women fighting for the right to choose—inspired by true stories. 2017: When Angela Creighton discovers a mysterious ...

  13. Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

    A novel about underground abortion access in 1970s Toronto. Tell them you're looking for Jane. 2017. When Angela Creighton discovers a mysterious letter containing a life-shattering confession in ...

  14. Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall: Book Review

    Heather Marshall's debut novel, Looking for Jane, is expected to be released on March 1, 2022, by Simon & Schuster.Looking for Jane is a historical novel that weaves together the story of three women in different parts of their lives. One day while at work, Angela finds a letter addressed to a woman she's never met but reveals a family secret.

  15. Review: 'Looking for Jane' is gripping, historical, relevant

    Gripping from the moment it begins, Heather Marshall's novel "Looking for Jane" is getting a well-deserved re-release to hit the post-Roe v. Wade United States market. The story kicks off ...

  16. Book Review: Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

    Book Review: Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall. By Hayley Platt. Canadian author Heather Marshall's debut novel Looking for Jane, published on March 1, 2022, expertly investigates some of the hard truths for unmarried women in the latter half of the twentieth century, alongside a message of hope and resilience in the present.

  17. Looking for Jane: A Novel

    "Clever and satisfying . . . [Looking for Jane] has the potential to remain pertinent for generations."— The Associated Press "Marshall vividly brings to life the dangers involved with operating Jane… a page-turner… readers will be moved by the courage and thoughtfulness with which these characters face their dilemmas." — Publishers Weekly "Marshall makes an absorbing debut ...

  18. Heather Marshall

    Looking for Jane is a compelling, courageous must-read about motherhood and choice.". - Genevieve Graham, USA Today and #1 bestselling author of The Forgotten Home Child. "Looking for Jane is an original and poignant story that holds a mirror to the ongoing fight for women's rights. In reflecting on a dark spot in Canadian history ...

  19. Looking for Jane: A Novel

    Looking for Jane. : Heather Marshall. Simon and Schuster, Feb 7, 2023 - Fiction - 400 pages. This "clever and satisfying" (Associated Press) #1 international bestseller for fans of Kristin Hannah and Jennifer Chiaverini follows three women who are bound together by a long-lost letter, a mother's love, and a secret network of women ...

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    Looking for Jane is "a searing, important, beautifully written novel about the choices we all make and where they lead us—as well as a wise and timely reminder of the difficult road women had to walk not so long ago" (Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author). Read more. Print length. 399 pages. Language.

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