Present – Angela Creighton
Angela works in a book/antique store in downtown Toronto. One day she discovers a lost letter, still sealed, some seven years after it should have been delivered. She opens it and reads – only to find that the contents are very distressing. She feels compelled to find the intended recipient. She was an adoptee herself and now she and her wife, Tina, are trying for a baby via IVF. The subject matter of the letter seems so personal to Angela.
1960s – Evelyn Taylor
Shortly after Evelyn’s fiance dies of a sudden heart-attack, she finds herself pregnant. Single, and brought up in a Catholic family, any and all decisions about her pregnancy are taken from her hands. Her parents put her in a Catholic-run ‘home for unwed mothers’. Little better than the Magdalene laundries in Ireland, these ‘homes‘ were places of incarceration for the girls who lived there. They were given no choice but to relinquish their babies for adoption after giving birth. After Evelyn leaves the home, after much anguish and heartbreak, she goes on to study medicine. In 1970 she traveled to Ottawa to join the Abortion Caravan to protest the unjust system by which a group of men got to decide who should, or shouldn’t get an abortion. Later she studied under Dr. Morgentaler as to how to safely provide women with abortions. In the late 1970s she joined the Canadian version of the “Jane Collective“, an underground whisper network that helped link women looking to procure abortions with a doctor experienced in performing them safely.
1970s – Nancy Mitchell
Nancy had loving parents and a wonderful upbringing. When she discovers, by accident, that she has been adopted her world is tilted upon its axis. It seems her birthmother loved her and didn’t want to give her up. Her birthmother called her ‘Jane’.
There is nothing quite so gratifying as reading a really good debut novel AND learning about some groundbreaking history of your own country at the same time! Abortion has been legal in Canada since 1988, so many are now rather complacent about the issue. What we have to remember is that before it was legalized many, many women died seeking abortions, and many, many fought – at great personal risk – to make abortion legal.
The characters in this novel fairly leapt off the pages in their authenticity. Weaving fiction with historical fact seems to come natural to the author as this is her debut novel. With themes of maternal love, adoption, abortion, and the right to choose, this is a timely novel given the fact that March is International Women’s Month.
A moving fictional portrait that puts a human face on the history of Canadian women’s reproductive rights, “Looking For Jane” is a novel that is entertaining and informative in equal measure. It is an impressive debut that I highly recommend.This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Simon & Schuster Canada via NetGalley.
Publication date: March 1, 2022 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
ISBN: 9781982170233 ASIN: B09842LCDT 400 pages
Heather Marshall lives with her family near Toronto. She completed master’s degrees in Canadian history and political science, and worked in politics and communications before turning her attention to her true passion: storytelling. Looking for Jane is her debut novel.
Visit her website HeatherMarshallAuthor.com