2016: 26. Jane-Emily

"There are times when the midsummer sun strikes cold, and when the leaping flames of a hearthfire give no heat."

Jane-Emily, Patricia Clapp

Oh, Jane-Emily. This is a book I had growing up, and was fascinated by, and then it got burnt up in the fire at my parent’s house (or more accurately, was ruined by smoke damage in the fire at my parent’s house).  So when I saw it for sale on the Newton Library book rack, I knew it had to be mine.  My 50 cents were well spent. It’s a very 1970’s young adult book (maybe a kid’s book by the standards of today), down to the groovy line drawing on the cover (wished so much that the copy on Amazon.com had the old cover to show you), and it just drew me right back to being a young reader.

It’s not set in the 1970’s.  Rather, it’s set in say, 1880.  18 year old Louisa Amory has been spent to send the summer in a “quiet New England town” (irony alert, it turns out to be Lynn, and the pastoral description doesn’t really comport with my current understanding of the city of sin), with her niece, Jane.  It promises to be a quiet summer, only when they arrive at the house, mysterious things keep happening, all tied to the death of a little girl named Emily, twenty years before.  It’s a funny book, because the scary stuff is so mild, compared to what we read today.  But on the other hand, the underlying plot (SPOILER TO FOLLOW) is basically that Emily was so evil and spoiled she is just ruining things from beyond the grave.  And I would be very surprised to read a YA book today where the premise was that some kids are just bad to the bone.  So it’s a strange tone. 

I’m not sure if you’d love Jane-Emily if you didn’t read it as a kid, but if you are my age and you want something with the old fashioned YA tone we grew up with - instead of the sexy exciting stuff of today, and you have like, 45 minutes to kill, I found it a pretty groovy nostalgia trip.  Especially the line drawings!

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017