Second-Hand Jane by Michelle Vernal
A quiet meander through discovery, secrets and self-awareness from Michelle Vernal in this woman’s fiction title
While I’m known to enjoy my women’s fiction, there are certain elements that just strike a chord with me, and Michelle Vernal managed to tick every box.
Jane is known as “second hand Jane” by all who know her simply for her love of all things old: clothes, books, furniture and tales. And when a move to Dublin from New Zealand gives her more old to discover and less of the present (nagging mother) to deal with – the story takes flight.
Having developed an obsession with old children’s books, her favorite new find is an inscription with a name of the former owner, and she decides to follow up in a sort of ‘where are they now” story for her column.
In her search, Jane meets Amy’s brother Owen, a rather close-mouthed and dour (at first) man who explains that Amy was in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’, a common euphemism for those involved in the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland in the decades of the 1970’s through the 1990’s.
From here, Jane heads to the family farm, searches out answers in Northern Ireland, flirts and debates a relationship with Nick while still wondering about Owen, and finding some manner of common ground with her mother. Told in first person, Jane isn’t a logical thinker, or even particularly interesting all of the time… BUT, it is the questions, the moments and the minutiae that bring this story to life. I’m sure any one of us, were our every thought catalogued, come up on the ‘dull’ side more than once, particularly as we wrangle with our own feelings and knowledge, and the pressures felt from near and far.
An interesting story that may not be for all readers, but is sure to please those who want to have a quiet meander through a life of discovery and interest in things that others dismiss simply because they are not new and shiny.
Title: Second-Hand Jane
Author: Michelle Vernal
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction
Published by: Self-Published
Published on: 24 February 2014
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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About the Book:
When footloose and fancy-free Jessica, a thirty-something writer, decides to follow her journalistic instincts and trace the story of a young girl for her weekly column in a Dublin newspaper, she unwittingly embarks on a journey into Northern Ireland’s tragic past.
With her love of all things vintage, Jessica Jane Baré is known as Second-hand Jane to her friends. Hailing from New Zealand, these days she’s finding the grass is greener in Dublin and not just because of all the rain. In fact, life would be sweet if it weren’t for the reason she left home in the first place–her meddling mother. Marian views Jess’s life in Dublin as nothing more than a stop-gap until she meets Mr Right and he’s taking his time. Things look set to change, however, when Jess meets the delectable Nick, who ticks all of Marian’s boxes.
In the meantime, Jess’s latest second-hand collectible–a children’s book—gives her an idea for her column. Deciding to track down the girl whose name is scribbled inside the cover of that book, she uncovers more than she ever expected. “Amy was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the girl’s taciturn brother, Owen, informs her. Intrigued, Jess travels to the family pig farm in County Down and listens to Amy’s poignant tale unfold through Owen. With a little help from a rather cute runt of the litter she names Wilbur, Jess is about to help put the past to rest and learn that appearances can be deceptive.
Then Marian announces she is coming to Dublin to sort her daughter’s increasingly tangled love life out and Jess’s chance of a happy ending like those in the story books she collects looks about as likely as Wilbur flying.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: