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Monday, August 24, 2009
'Jane' by PF Jeffery (Book 2, Berenice, Chapter 2)


Jane and Nicola, with Jane's return home, old school friends and fiscal inspectors both, exchange (over rosehip tea in a tearoom) girly chat (re fashion and Skirt City where they live and jingles and ballads) as well as gossip regarding Jane's trip to Essex (about which Nicola initially feels jealous) – and hints about Jane's liaisons not only with Modesty Clay but with the Empress herself (following the sweaty tennis match) – and intrigue and spies.  Much of the ambiance reminds me of nineteen-forties black and white morale-boosting films that contemporaneously depicted wartime in England involving enemy spies etc....


<<" Forget the cheese and beetroot," I amended my order.  "Make that two egg sandwiches, both eggs fried solid in beef dripping.  Thickly sliced, thickly buttered, crusty bread.">>



By contrast with above, the ostensibly chaste relationship of these two girls is brought into focus: chasteness and nostalgia and well-being and growing maturity of observation of those younger (and, indeed, of those, like their respective mothers, older) than themselves, with later implications (over whiskey in the wood) of future non-chasteness between them.


<<"The trunk we're sitting on must have still been a tree when we were little.  But – no – the wood doesn't seem much different.  And we're still loony.  I hope we always are."  She sounded slightly sad.>>



Links to all my JANE chapter comments:

Posted at 01:47 pm by Weirdmonger

PF Jeffery
August 29, 2009   07:02 PM PDT
Thank you for that!

This was a chapter about which (in advance) I felt very nervous: attempting (in effect) to create a whole city out of thin air. I doubted my ability to do so. It proved easier than expected when narrowed to the focus of a couple of teenage girls.

As to the 1940s ambience, I suppose that there is a parallel. Jane lives in a country at war, facing larger and (in some ways) more powerful enemies. It is in this context that a new military elite has arisen, and its leading light has made herself Empress. How much Empress Berenice has in common with Winston Churchill is open to doubt, but they have in common a sincere admiration from their peoples. In Book 3 of “Jane” we will see the sometimes surprising attitudes of the Empress’ new subjects in a newly-liberated (?) Lundin. In Volume 2 of “The Warriors of Love” we will see the twitchiness, and concern about spies, viewed from the other side of the conflict.

The passage you quote (about the fried egg sandwiches) is very specific. Non-vegetarian readers could create these sandwiches for themselves, and see how good they are. There are quite a lot of details of food in “Jane” (and in “The Warriors of Love”, in general). A little bit about diet, I feel, goes a long way towards rendering the lives of characters real (to the reader). Of course, not all of the food mentioned is readily creatable by the reader. No recipe is available for that Lifenbud treat, bunny cakes.

Whether (and to what extent) Jane and Nicola succeed in remaining loony should be revealed in “The Warriors of Love” volumes 4, 7 and 10.

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