Bett Norris

Perspectives

afterellen.com reviews What’s Best for Jane

What’s Best For Jane by Bett Norris (Bywater)

Though Bett Morris’s What’s Best For Jane is the sequel to the love story Miss McGhee, the novel easily stands on its own.  What’s Best For Jane continues the story of Mary McGhee, who is a powerful and divisive figure in her small southern town — especially among the family of her late partner, Lila Jackson, whose estate Mary inherited.

When Mary befriends Jane Jackson, Lila’s niece, the two provide each other a surprising solace.  Jane is a lonely girl whose distinct intelligence and open-mindedness is not something her father, Lila’s brother Jimmy, appreciates or tolerates. When rumors begin to swirl about the nature of Mary and Jane’s friendship, the damage and impact is devastating.

Norris delves into the complicated aspects of this relationship and reveals how and why both characters offer each other a means of hope.  Mary is at the end of her life and Jane is just beginning — Mary encourages and fears — to find herself.

“There was no escape,” Mary thinks after Jane reads to her Yeats poem The Second Coming, “except with this bright and shining twin of Lila, this doppelganger, a mirror image of her lover, but so much younger and with so much more opportunity that Lila had. In Jane, she saw a second coming, she had a second chance. It burned her eyes and tasted like the asked on a martyr’s pyre.”

What’s Best For Jane is a gripping second novel by a talented storyteller.

 

Heather O’Neill

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