Rissi's Reviews > Lizzy and Jane

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2014, most-anticipated, favorites, review

Among the inspirational, Christian fiction crowd, I’m not sure there were many books more anticipated than the follow up to 2013’s debut author Katherine Reay’s lovely epistolary novel, Dear Mr. Knightley. While the two share no connection story wise besides being seeped in Austen-esque loveliness, readers couldn’t wait to see what Reay had next for us. Myself included. Lizzy & Jane tells the story of the titular sisters who are at odds with one another ever since their mother died years earlier from cancer – Lizzy was there for her mother. Jane was not. Now, both girls are grown up, living their own lives and Lizzy’s nearly ten years elder sister, Jane is going through the terror of cancer. Burned out from her work as a chef at an elite, New York restaurant – Feast, Lizzy agrees to take a trip west to visit her father… and Jane. Afraid for her own future, tired of fighting with Jane and still healing from a past and loss she never mourned, Lizzy is about to rediscover her passions… and all that really matters.

This market found a treasure when that agent and publisher read Katherine Reay’s manuscript. She is a gifted, marvelous storyteller, who never takes anything in her story for granted – either for her characters or for us, the reader. Lizzy & Jane is a very different kind of story for those of us still on a book high from Dear Mr. Knightley (which just won not one but two Carol awards this past weekend - congrats, Katherine!), but that in no way is a criticism for this beauty. I’m not sure if this will sound horribly cliché or not, however I have to say it, because in my pondering over this novel post that final swipe that led to the last page; I realized while this book is about women fighting for their life and suffering the emotional impact of the ravages of cancer, this isn’t a book about cancer. Katherine has done a beautiful job making this about the characters… the sister’s relationships as opposed to letting the story hide in the tragedies of overcoming something so difficult to write about.

Since I read an early NetGalley ARC galley, I will have to confess that my reading experience for this novel wasn’t as pleasant as I’d have liked it to be because the format wasn’t how it should have been. That being said, nothing was going to deter me from discovering the hidden joys of this one, and thankfully, those distractions didn’t. While I don’t think I can say I related nearly as well to Lizzy & Jane (in terms of the characters being in the same stage of life as I am – or being closer in age), I doubt there are many of us who won’t be able to feel or understand what these sister’s go through. Whether it be because of the disease that brings them back into the same space or because of their foolish differences they let build a wall between them – who of us hasn’t been in one of these situations? Sadly we all have – I know I have, and probably experienced both extremes.

Another thing Austen purists will appreciate, these are not retellings of Austen’s works. Instead of reshaping the classics to fit a contemporary mold, Reay weaves in references in honorable nods to the great literature and uses all of the good in those stories to an advantage in the breathtaking novels she pens. One of the ending references in particular left me all swoon-y and happy inside – particularly since it is such a popular Austen moment that is used to a charming advantage in the final moments of Lizzy & Jane. This is one of those books I was loathe to see end. In fact, while reading it, I swiped my screen and had a reaction of dismay that I had reached the end. In trying to get to the end, I had sped through the book faster than normal and was forced to say good-bye to two lovely women whose relationship is as realistic as any of our sister relationships are and it’s all brought together with much laughter, love and forgiveness.

Sincere thanks to the publisher and NetGalley as well as Katherine Reay (thank *you*) for providing a complimentary ARC copy of this book for reviewing purposes.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
December 16, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
December 16, 2013 – Shelved
January 2, 2014 – Shelved as: 2014
January 2, 2014 – Shelved as: most-anticipated
October 1, 2014 – Shelved as: favorites
October 1, 2014 – Shelved as: review

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