Friday, September 29, 2017

Book Review: 'Jane of Manchester' by J.G. Dow

British author J.G. Dow knows the area of her debut novel well. Living in the North of England she lived in Manchester to attend University of Manchester and now translates those memories (and creative impulses) into an impressively fine first novel – a book that is light reading and definitely falls in to the Chick Lit category so very poplar among readers today.

J.G. Dow introduces her main character Jane in a manner that in a few lines places a mirror up to the character allowing us to see her fully (as well as glimpses of the people we know who are quite like her!): ‘I left work a bit after five on a Wednesday, the rain teeming down and still felt totally cheesed off by the time I got to the bus stop and took a grotty seat near the rear on my way back to Rusholme. Will, my boss, had been bothering me all day about keeping track of the incoming orders and no amount of telling him I’d already done them seemed to suffice. I got back to my flat and climbed the stairs, feeling a bit knackered after being at the Florists all day arranging flowers and grinning away at old ladies even though I only slept a few hours the night before and I just wanted a sit down and have a drink. I took off my coat and hung it in the hallway and then wandered through to the fridge to pour a nice cold glass of rose before kicking off my sodden shoes and ringing my mum for a chat…‘ And so begins Jane’s diary.

The story is light, focuses on those aspects of being a single girl in a conclave of mating minded girlfriends who often interact through the accompaniment of liquor, used to lighten conversation and honest opinions. The synopsis – ‘Jane's life on the face of it isn't really too bad...she has great friends like party girl Natasha who's always up for a laugh and her close pal Polly, always there for her and of course her loving parents, but things could still be better...Most people she knows are either married or have kids and she has been single a while now and wonders if a good man is ever to be encountered again. The single life is far from a quiet one for Jane however, as she is constantly getting dragged to night clubs and bars by Natasha and the crew as well as enduring a particularly boozy weekend away at the seaside! Jane loves a lot about her life, disregarding rude plumbers in her flat and dealing with annoying superiors and a smug sister, but as a certain someone takes her eye, is everything about to change and get a whole lot more serious or is the single life determined to keep her captive a while longer yet...’

Light, airy, very British (a very high compliment!), JANE OF MANCHESTER tosses together a bit of philosophy with a lot of fun – one of those books for a lazy evening’s pleasure. Grady Harp, March 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right

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