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Thursday, September 03, 2009
'Jane' by PF Jeffery, Book 2, Berenice, Chapter 6

The two-faced task of courting Coral...


It is difficult for me to do justice to the turnings of the plot in each chapter. I cannot even hope to attempt to cover every incident. So much is crammed into the brimming prose and dialogue, so much poetry and atmosphere, so much reality of the fiction’s truth, with various character names piling up, parallels, histories, subtleties and subterfuges. This chapter I will call the Lightbody sub-plot, where a man actually is described:

“,,,a man whose sober suit was offset by a broad brimmed hat decorated with a large scarlet feather.  The foppish headgear had rested on his head at a rakish angle, but on entering the office he doffed it with an extravagant gesture.  Miss Murphy made no move to dismiss the guards, who took their station by the door.”


Is it a sub-plot of gold and war prizes and deceit or a gradual unfolding in itself of the main plot by innuendo as well as direct description by Jane.  There is also a teaser as to the future by the use of the word ‘probably’ (in contrast to an earlier certainty of the future by Jane’s omniscience):

“The accuracy or otherwise of this suspicion is a matter I’ve never been able to verify, and probably never will.”


Love among the dusty ledgers, forbidden love with older women, much tea-drinking at every moment...


One wonders why characters try to hide evidence of love-making, since the impression in this fiction world is often given that love-making is what is going on in every corner, anyway.  It’s as if everyone turns a blind-eye and play-acts ignorance, to make all their own love-making more enticing, i.e.:

“Oh my goddess!  So have you!  How could I have not seen?  What a give-away!  What are we going to do?”


Much seems to parallel the Jacqui Blood fictions, almost as if some elements of the plot are re-enactments...




Links to all my JANE chapter comments:

Posted at 11:14 am by Weirdmonger

PF Jeffery
September 8, 2009   05:05 PM PDT
Thank you for that!

William Lightbody is both named and described, I don’t think that this is true of any other male character in “Jane”. (Although I’m not 100% certain of that.) And even so, it seems likely that William Lightbody isn’t his real name.

I don’t think that I’ve ever met anyone surnamed Lightbody. The origins of the name (for me) may lie in the days when my brother worked as a site clerk for Frankipile. One of the men listed on his pay sheets was (if I recall correctly) Alf Lightbody (certainly not William). The name seems to have stuck in my mind over the years.

As to:

“The accuracy or otherwise of this suspicion is a matter I’ve never been able to verify, and probably never will.”

I doubt whether it is a spoiler to reveal that, at the end of “Jane”, she has still been unable to verify this matter. There are planned to be another three volumes narrated by Jane, so she may ultimately be able to verify it (although I doubt whether she will).

This remark in your comments surprised me:

“One wonders why characters try to hide evidence of love-making…”

I think that sexual activity (in the workplace) between a line manager and one her charges is something that would always need to be hidden. That applies equally (I think) to offices in our time, and in Jane’s. There seem to me three considerations which would apply in any office at any time. These are: proper use of working time, maintaining a professional relationship, and sexual harassment. To take these in turn…

Proper use of working time… I feel pretty sure that the only work places to permit (much less require) sexual activity in working hours are brothels. Jane and Coral Frobisher are being paid to calculate military prizes, not to engage in sex.

Maintaining a professional relationship… Such a relationship would be compromised by sexual activity between a line manager and one of her charges. While their sexual relationship went well, it’s all too likely that the line manager would show favoritism. Once the relationship went awry, the reverse would very likely be true. Not good for the proper running of the office, either way. Fear of ill treatment at work could put pressure on the junior employee to continue the relationship, which brings us to…

Sexual harassment… While women such as Jane’s mother may be glad to see their daughters in loving relationships with nice girls, they would certainly not wish their daughters to be exposed to sexual predators in the workplace.
September 8, 2009   06:18 PM PDT
In fact, Gary Lightbody, in that review, is a reference to the lead singer of 'Snow Patrol', I believe.
PF Jeffery
September 17, 2009   07:50 PM PDT
It’s good to have it confirmed that “Lightbody” is a real world surname.

I think that all of the sexual/loving relationships in “Jane” are akin to ones in our world. In fact, I believe that “Jane” is realistic insofar as (were such a society to come into being) people would behave (and think) very much as they are described as doing in “Jane”.

The world of “Jane” is not so much a fantasy world as a world into which the one we know may develop.

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