Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Book of Jane by Anne Dayton, May Vanderbilt

The Book of Jane cover

The Book of Jane
by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt

Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Broadway Books
First Released: 2007

Author Website

Source: Bought from

Back Cover Description (somewhat modified):
Jane Williams is the happiest woman in New York. She has a dream job, a perfect Manhattan apartment, and a man she wants to marry. Her whole life is mapped out to the finest detail, and things just can't get any better. But in a New York minute, everything changes. After meeting with a hot Hollywood actor--spokesman of a charity her PR firm is working for--she wakes up to a day filled with disaster: a weird rash on her face, losing her boyfriend, job, and reputation, her best friend ignoring her, her parents upset with her, major storm damage to her apartment, and her dog needing emergency medical treatment. Jane struggles to hold herself together while her world falls apart. Has God forgotten her? Does He even exist?

Jane is forced to re-examine what she really wants and values after nearly everything she holds dear slips away. Filled with the sophistication and excitement of city life, but sprinkled with humor and strong values, this new novel from the Dayton/Vanderbilt team charms, inspires, and warms the heart.

The Book of Jane was described on the back cover as a "contemporary re-telling of the story of Job," but Jane had little in common with Job beyond having it all, then losing it all, then having things get better. (As in, when things started going wrong, she thought God had forgotten her, and, at the lowest point, she doubted God even existed. Her faith only came back once things started to get better. Job never doubted.) Once I realized that and accepted Jane's faith wasn't very deep, I found the story enjoyable and liked the underlying humor that prevented the story from getting depressing. I also really enjoyed her new boyfriend in that both characters helped each other grow and were better people together than apart.

I felt the pacing, especially during the first half, sometimes went too quickly. Jane hardly had time to react to her bad circumstances before things started looking up again. In a way, this made some of her reactions seem shallow--one minute she's feeling angry and betrayed by someone and in the next she's forgiving them simply because they asked. I felt the other characters were more realistic and complex than Jane due to how they handled their ongoing troubles.

This novel had a strong Christian theme, but the characters weren't preachy. Since Christian novels often don't have the following, I'll point out: The characters frequently drank alcohol though they didn't get drunk. Jane also had close physical contact with the men in her life during several circumstances I suspect would have led to temptation if not sex in real life.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of fake bad language. The novel was written in present tense ("I say" instead of "I said"), but I usually didn't notice and it didn't bother me. Overall, it was an enjoyable, clean novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Most people don’t know that her real name is Liberty Enlightening the World. It’s a mouthful, so people usually just call her Lady Liberty or the Statue of Liberty, but I think you kind of lose something in the translation.

“Are you in charge here today?” I pull my gaze away from my favorite client and turn to see who’s talking. I see a young red–haired woman in perfect “political” navy blue. She’s the woman behind the mayor.

“Yes,” I say, extending my hand. “Jane Williams.”

As a senior publicist at Glassman & Co., one of the largest PR firms in New York, I get to work on some great accounts, but none of them give me the same thrill as representing one of the most famous statues in the world. I’m in charge of all of Libby’s photo ops. Anytime someone wants to print a photo or do a documentary about her, they have to come through me.

“Sophie Brown,” she says, and holds up a finger to me to tell me to wait, then presses her earpiece for a moment. I smile patiently, making a notation in my ever–ready planner. I’ve gotten very good at dealing with high–powered politicos and their tech toys.

She takes her hand down and gives her head a good shake. “Okay, that wasn’t for me. But I have a question for you.”

I look around. The red, white, and blue balloon columns look great, even after their boat ride over here. The stage is already set up right at the statue’s feet, just like the mayor ordered, and the sound guys are checking the system. It’s all going according to schedule. The mayor is championing a controversial minimum wage for New York City. Since many of the hourly workers in the city are recent immigrants, he has initiated a local minimum wage, set much higher than the national one, to protect them. But this change hasn’t exactly been popular with big business. And so, to insure that no one misses what’s at stake here, the mayor is holding a publicity event on Liberty Island today, in spite of my protests that June afternoons in New York are often plagued with torrential, unexpected rain.

“Sure,” I say to Sophie. “Shoot.”

Sophie looks around and then drops her voice. “Did someone tell you about the Banks Box?”

I lean in to hear her better. “I’m sorry?”

“The Banks Box,” she whispers. She flashes a quick smile to the staffers swarming around us, then drags me away from the thick of things. What on earth is going on?

“No one told you?” she asks. “But I heard you had it.”

“Had what?”

She holds her head for a moment like she has a splitting headache. “Mayor Banks is only five foot six.”

“Really? He looks taller on TV,” I say.

“Because of the Banks Box. I mean, he doesn’t know we call it that. I need someone to plant it at the podium so that the press can’t see it. He always stands on it. And I heard you had it.”

I stifle a laugh and shake my head.

“I have to find that box,” she says and starts running away. “What a day.”

Read the rest of chapter one.

No comments: