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Miss Jane

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  2,567 Ratings  ·  488 Reviews
Brings to life a forgotten woman and a lost world in a Southern pastoral.

Inspired by the true 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—namely, sex and marriage.

From the country
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Hardcover, 279 pages
Published July 26th 2016 by W.W. Norton & Company
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Elyse
Apr 12, 2017 Elyse rated it it was amazing
"She did not like the vexation of her incontinence, and wished she would outgrow it, but eventually accepted it as part of who she was, no matter how unsavory.
She determined that she would live like any other girl as best she could, and when she could no longer do that, she would adjust her life to its terms accordingly. So she did not fear her own strangeness, even though her awareness of it grew and evolved as she got older".

I really had no idea what to expect when I started reading this stor
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Diane S ☔
Jun 16, 2016 Diane S ☔ rated it it was amazing
Third book I have given five stars to in the past week, so....... either I am getting sentimentally sappy (which I don't believe for a minute) or (there are some awfully good books being published), yep let's go with this one. Jane and Dr. Thompson are two of the most memorable and admirable characters that I have had the pleasure of encountering in fiction. Jane's characters is based on the author's great aunt and this makes her even more special.

Early 1900's in Mississippi, Jane is born to a m
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Dem
Jan 07, 2017 Dem rated it really liked it
Beautifully written - a story that is quietly intriguing and inspiring. This is a novel where the characters will take hold of you and you will have great difficulty letting go of them by the end of the story.

Miss Jane is a story of a child born with an inoperable condition in rural Mississippi in 1915.

An amazing sense of time and place with wonderful characters. The story is based loosely on the life of the authors great aunt Jane who was born with a rare congenital deformity.
We are introduce
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Linda
Jan 04, 2017 Linda rated it it was amazing
This book quietly and tenderly tip-toed into my heart. It introduced me to each character so vividly that I felt like I was standing among them. I found myself so engaged that my reading pace slowed down as to not miss a word of what this disheartened family had to endure. Each member of the Chisolm family suffered in solitude in their own unique way with the tragic, congenital defect of little Jane.

The story was based on the author's great-aunt. It began with her birth and continued through th
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Apr 08, 2017 Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader rated it it was amazing
The best kind of book inspires you, transports you, and wraps you up inside it. The main character of Miss Jane, Jane Chisholm, faced one of life's considerable obstacles with grace and fortitude. I felt sad at times because of the hardships Jane had, but as I was reading, the point the author was making in my mind was that I should not feel sorry for Jane, that she would not want me to feel sad for her; Jane was good with how she was, how her life was. She accepted her life and lived it exactly ...more
Karen
Jun 18, 2016 Karen rated it it was amazing
Oh this quiet little book, drawing upon the life of the author's great aunt.
Jane, born in rural, early twentieth century Mississippi, who was born with a genital defect, was so good. It was sad, that she had to live with the limitations this caused her, but she lived her life with a grace and strength that I will not forget. There are a few other great characters in this book also...her father, the doctor country doctor who examined her at birth and continued to be a huge part of her life, and
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Diane Barnes
Jun 03, 2016 Diane Barnes rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club-2016
This is my favorite type of book, a quiet and contemplative novel of the life of a woman born in 1915 in rural Mississippi. Jane was born with a "defect" that was not fixable at that time in medical history. It made her incontinent and unable to have sex or bear children. It also caused caused her to be a social outcast of sorts, as school and normal friendships were impossible because of her frequent accidents. So she grew up on the farm, with only a sister who resented being her caretaker, a m ...more
Sue
Miss Jane is the story of Miss Jane Chisholm, born in early 20th century Missisippi, in a very rural setting, with birth defects, genital birth defects, that will affect her entire life. The local doctor who delivers her, discovers, and later researches her physical deficits, and remains a major force in her life. This story is apparently based on the life of a distant relative of the author.

Miss Jane is a novel of self, but not selfishness, of persistence in the face of major physical difficult
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Perry
Oct 12, 2016 Perry rated it it was amazing
A Love Bird
A Simply Superb Novel

"A little girl, I believe," Dr. Thompson pronounced. Brad Watson set the mood perfectly by showing rather than telling about this 1915 baby delivery in a small farmhouse in rural Mississippi. The midwife's "narrowed eyes" as she washed the baby, while the father waited outside with "his long face in half shadow," and mom viewed the baby like she was "some kind of potentially dangerous creature."

The condition of the baby, "Jane" but called "Janie," was medically d
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Heidi The Hippie Librarian
Aug 03, 2016 Heidi The Hippie Librarian rated it really liked it
Confession time: I picked this one up because of the cover. I do that sometimes. Who could resist that peacock? It's an exciting method of book selection because I read novels I would have never considered otherwise and occasionally discover a gem. Miss Jane is, fortunately, one of those gems.

Miss Jane is about Jane Chisolm- an extraordinary girl born in the deep South in the early 19th century with a physical deformity so extreme that she can never have children or even control her bowels. Thou
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Lindsay
3 stars. I know I'm in the minority with having less than a 4 or 5 star rating. There is no doubt that this author writes beautifully. My less than excellent rating is based on my overall feelings throughout this book - I just couldn't help but feel saddened while reading this entire novel. My heart broke for Jane on every single page - I felt so bad for her, her condition and her loneliness. Jane learned to accept her condition and grew to experience happiness, excitement (my heart melted durin ...more
Sam
Jan 12, 2017 Sam rated it it was amazing
She understood somehow that she was lucky in her special way to love these events without the complicated, pressing question of physical love, to absorb life from the center and its periphery at once, so she could for a while take it all in with the sweet fullness of the entirely human and the utterly strange, without apprehension or fear.

Miss Jane, like its titular character and beautiful cover, is a strange, sad sort of bird for a book, a quietly powerful tale of a girl both unusual and ordi
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Robin
Feb 21, 2017 Robin rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, audio-book, 2017
Life is not fair in that way or any other way. We are who and what we are.

This is a beautiful, meditative book about how one woman's physical differences create a separateness and life-long aloneness in the world.

Jane Chisolm (a character based on the author's great aunt) was born differently than other girls - with a condition making sexual coupling physically impossible, an inability to conceive and carry a baby, as well as lifelong incontinence. Born on a farm in early twentieth century Mis
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Dana
Oct 28, 2016 Dana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
5+ stars.

Miss Jane is a novel that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

Jane Chilson, born with a urogenital birth defect is faced to live life the best she can given the hand she was dealt. Her parents are emotionally unavailable and she only realizes her father’s love after he dies. The one figure who has been a constant in her life is Dr. Thompson, her physician. He is like a father figure to her, looking after her from birth until his death. He is the one she reaches out to when she has
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Mike W
May 02, 2016 Mike W rated it it was amazing
In a novel sure to draw initial comparisons with Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, Brad Watson imagines the life of a woman with a difference so great that it has the power to leave her feeling utterly alone in the world. Comparisons with Middlesex are warranted, Jane is conceived in a, let’s say baleful coupling, and though she appears in nearly every way to be a normal child there is one great difference that will result in a lifetime of being an outsider.

Comparisons between the two novels should
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Amanda
This book completely blew me away. It was so good. I still have a few more of the Nat'l Book Award list to get to but of the ones I've read this is my favorite and I can't imagine anything knocking it out of that spot.

It is the story, loosely based on the authors Aunt, who was born with a genital defect that causes her incontinence and infertility among other things. It takes place in rural Mississippi in the early parts of the 20th century. Jane is a remarkable character and despite everyone fe
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Rebecca Foster
This is a historical novel loosely based on the story of the author’s great-aunt. Born in Mississippi in 1915, she had malformed genitals, which led to lifelong incontinence. Jane is a wonderfully plucky protagonist, and her friendship with her doctor, Ed Thompson, is particularly touching. “You would not think someone so afflicted would or could be cheerful, not prone to melancholy or the miseries.” This reminded me most of What Is Visible by Kimberly Elkins, an excellent novel about living a ...more
Sarah
May 24, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. The main character, Miss Jane, was gracious, curious, adventurous, compassionate and loving. I would have read 1000 pages about her. She offered a not-entirely-subtle lesson that difference does not have to be hardship, solitude does not have to be sadness. Her father and the doctor were excellent characters. And there were peacocks.
Jessica
May 23, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it
Brad Watson's writing style is superb. This book has so many layers. I really want to gush about the descriptions of the raw Mississippi farmland, the hound dogs, the front porches, the pecan trees, and the woods filled with pine and broadleaf trees. Carefully pay attention to the loving descriptions by Watson and the tender thoughts of these woods by his heroine, Jane Chisolm. I found that in the end, it was poignant the relationship Jane had with her land.

Jane Chisolm was born in 1915 with
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jane is born in 1915 in rural eastern Mississippi. She is born with a condition that is inoperable during that time and makes her unable to have a "normal" life - schooling is more difficult, as is future job opportunities, and relationships are practically out of question. But the author takes this as a jumping off point to examine the value in a single life, the assumptions we make about how people will be, and throws in a little history of female genital surgery history.

I don't know. I'm a bi
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Alyson Hagy
Feb 01, 2016 Alyson Hagy rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I have known Brad Watson for more than ten years. I was a fan of his fiction before I met him, so my expectations for MISS JANE were high. But now that I have read the novel, I am in raptures. I think it is one of the most deft and generous portraits of an American character I have ever read. It's just a beautiful book. Watson begins the novel with an epigraph from Flaubert--and then proceeds to give us a "deceptively simple" (as Andrea Barrett notes) story that equals the Frenc ...more
Amy
Dec 30, 2016 Amy rated it it was amazing
If I was going to pick a book that surprised me the most this year in its beauty, it would be, Miss Jane. Watson pens the story of his great-aunt, Miss Jane, and her struggles with a genital birth defect that alters Jane’s life path greatly. Set in the early twentieth century in rural Mississippi, Jane knows that she is not like other girls. Her struggles with this defect every moment of her day are told in ways that often feel unfathomable.

Her kind doctor takes her under his wing and has honest
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Kasa Cotugno
Sometimes just when you need it, along comes a quiet book that reaffirms your view of humanity. Miss Jane Chisholm is born in 1915 with a birth abnormality that prevents her from engaging in normal social intercourse. How she chooses from a very early age to live her life without bitterness, with grace and dignity, is the underlying theme of this lovely story. Brad Watson loosely based his story on the circumstances in his great aunt's life, imbuing her with a love for nature and a strength that ...more
Linda
Jun 23, 2016 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Miss Jane touched my heart! Story telling at its finest, intrigued by the subject matter and the beauty of the writing. I loved it!
Kathryn
Feb 17, 2017 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
What a truly unique and touching story. I am fascinated that a man wrote the story of Jane and her unique situation. He broached aspects of her situation that my mind wondered and would not necessarily found answers on its own. I thank him for that. The book has a beautiful cover of a peacock. You must read the book to understand it's meaning.
Lata
Nov 28, 2016 Lata rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-read
I picked this book up at the library because of its beautiful cover. I was so glad that the writing was beautiful, and told a story of the author's grand aunt, Jane, who was born with a birth defect that gave her incontinence and prevented her from having children. She was the youngest daughter of a farming family, living in the southern US before WWI. Jane learned to live with her condition, thanks to her doctor's constant support of her and her family.

The above description doesn't do justice t
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Mary
Where to begin with my feelings about this book? Let's start with the obvious; the cover is fabulously beautiful and what initially attracted me. However, once my attention was captured, the blurb sealed the deal. Lastly, I most joyously won a copy through a Goodreads giveaway and now I'm a major fan of brilliant author, Brad Watson.

Using his great-aunt as inspiration, Watson begins the story in rural Mississippi, setting the stage perfectly for the entrance of Miss Jane Chisolm, a baby girl bo
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JanB
Jan 04, 2017 JanB rated it it was amazing
Miss Jane, based on the author’s great-aunt, is born in the early 20th century in rural Mississippi. She has a congenital defect that leaves her incontinent, as well as unable to have sexual relations or bear children. Life is tough on the farm; her father is an alcoholic, her mother deeply unhappy, and her sister can’t get away fast enough.

Jane is a remarkable girl and woman, and how she finds a life of meaning and worth despite her loneliness and affliction is a joy to read. Her attempts to a
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Martie Nees Record
Jul 26, 2016 Martie Nees Record rated it it was amazing
This book is simply a gorgeous piece of writing. It takes place during the early twentieth century in rural Mississippi. The protagonist, Miss Jane, was inspired by the author’s real life aunt who was born with the genital birth defect of having an intersex anatomy.

We follow Jane from her birth to her old age. In all stages of her life the reader will experience strong feelings of affection, sympathy and admiration for Jane; from the age of six when she realizes she wouldn’t be going to school
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BookBully
Jun 03, 2016 BookBully rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
Highly recommended for readers who enjoyed MUDBOUND by Hillary Jordan; THE WELL AND THE MINE by Gin Phillips; and A VIRTUOUS WOMAN by Kaye Gibbons.

This novel is a must-read. The language is lush and mesmerizing, topped only by the characters who will stay with you and haunt your dreams. MISS JANE is loosely based on Brad Watson's great-aunt, a woman born with a genital deformity in the early 1900s. Set in rural Mississippi, it's a novel that in many an author's hands might have slipped into voy
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Brad Watson teaches creative writing at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. His first collection, Last Days of the Dog-Men, won the Sue Kauffman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts & Letters; his first novel, The Heaven of Mercury, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and his Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
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“She loved most being in the woods with the diffused light and the quiet there. Such a stillness, with just the pecking of ground birds and forest animals, the flutter of wings, the occasional skittering of squirrels playing up and down a tree. The silent, imperceptible unfurling of spring buds into blossom. She felt comfortable there. As if nothing could be unnatural in that place, within but apart from the world.” 7 likes
“Life is not fair in that way or any other way. We are who and what we are.” 6 likes
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