Miss Jane (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This gem of a novel was long-listed for the 2016 National Book Award.  In it, Watson gives a fictionalized account of his great aunt, who was born in rural Mississippi in the early 20th century with a condition that made her unable to bear children  or control her bladder and bowels.  In spite of this, Jane makes the most of her situation.  Although she only has a few months of formal education, because she is bright and very good with numbers, she educates herself with some help from  the neighborhood doctor, and goes on to live a full, contented life. Watson has written a lovely book about an admirable woman who epitomizes dignity and strength.

— Nancy Randall

Based on the true story of his great aunt, Brad Watson writes a touching story of Miss Jane Chisolm born in the rural south during the early twentieth century with a gential defect no doctor can fix.  Rather than live as a victim, Miss Jane chooses to live as full a life as possible regardless of her circumstances.  Beautifully written and hopeful.

— Sue Rosenberg

July 2016 Indie Next List

“At first, I was uncomfortable reading about the life Jane Chisolm has to lead due to a genital birth defect and assumed that I would be sad for her throughout the book, but this is so beautifully written and unsentimental in its depiction of Jane's quiet strength and courageous acceptance of her life that I fell in love with her quite quickly. While all the supporting characters have their own peculiarities, they are tender and endearing to Jane and that helped me to understand how she endured and was loved so fully. Everyone should read this extraordinary book and feel, as I did, the joy of this remarkable woman.”
— Nancy Banks (E), City Stacks Books and Coffee, Denver, CO


Since his award-winning debut collection of stories, Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson has been expanding the literary traditions of the South, in work as melancholy, witty, strange, and lovely as any in America.

Now, drawing on the story of his own great-aunt, Watson explores the life of Miss Jane Chisolm, born in rural, early-twentieth-century Mississippi with a genital birth defect that would stand in the way of the central "uses" for a woman in that time and place: sex and marriage. From the highly erotic world of nature around her to the hard tactile labor of farm life, from the country doctor who befriends her to the boy who loved but was forced to leave her, Miss Jane Chisolm and her world are anything but barren.

The potency and implacable cruelty of nature, as well as its beauty, is a trademark of Watson's fiction. In Miss Jane, the author brings to life a hard, unromantic past that is tinged with the sadness of unattainable loves, yet shot through with a transcendent beauty. Jane Chisolm's irrepressible vitality and generous spirit give her the strength to live her life as she pleases in spite of the limitations that others, and her own body, would place on her. Free to satisfy only herself, she mesmerizes those around her, exerting an unearthly fascination that lives beyond her still.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393354386
ISBN-10: 0393354385
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: July 11th, 2017
Pages: 304
Language: English