In these degenerate days it is thrilling to read books where every sentence earns its keep. Spiritually, this book is Hemingway’s granddaughter.
Jane, our main character, is described by the crits as a neurotic thirtysomething woman, but she is not neurotic at all (and not thirtysomething either). After flipping through reviews, I am re-reading to figure out what people are talking about. Jane is utterly sane though hyper-monogamous, and I’m worried, because if she’s neurotic I’m stark raving.
I suspect people have simply not read the book; if Jane Austen published today she would be dismissed as chick lit and rationed a colorful dustjacket of hourglass skirt-shapes with pointy shoes. Jane is labeled neurotic because she is confused about things that human beings have every right to be confused about. She is perceptive, funny, humble. I like her enormously.
Bank’s prose is so spare and spot-on that I think to myself this must be autobiographical. There is no other way she can deploy a handful of paragraphs to describe her brother like that. A mention here, a mention there, and we know all Jane knows about her brother. The chapter quotes are too apt, the flashes of memories too random, the break-ups hinge on happenings too trivial, for this to be a yarn woven out of anything other than truth, with a little bit of wish.