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The Story of Jane
by Catherine Cusset

Category: Fiction / General
304 pages; ISBN: 0743202996

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


Disturbed over a recent death, New England Professor Jane Cook steps out of her apartment to see the package on the floor next to the Times. She picks it up noticing the fountain pen ink used on the mailing address. She figures it came from Alex though there is no return address. However, Jane quickly realizes that the package was sent from New York five days ago and Alex is and has been in France. When she opens it up she finds an unbound manuscript title THE STORY OF JANE.

Stunned and unable to resist, Jane begins to read her biography over the last decade or so in great detail. The writings describe her professional climb up the academic ladder and her personal descent down the personal stairwell. Though not arguing over events or people, Jane questions the feelings the anonymous author assigns her actions and reactions. Jane wonders who could know so much about what happened to her.

Though the mystery of the anonymous author adds a sense of suspense, the theme of THE STORY OF JANE focuses on a contemporary woman’s struggles in life. Readers see Jane through the biographer’s bias especially when Jane challenges the interpretation of her feelings at the time, a historiographer’s delight especially when Jane implicitly agrees with the author on the events. Still, the audience will have to accept the concept that someone can write a detailed life on someone else who is not readily documented in the media. Better yet, fans of contemporary women’s fiction are the audience who will enjoy this tale.

Harriet Klausner


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