Monday, October 13, 2008

Janeology by Karen Harrington

I haven't had much time for extra reading lately, but once I opened this book I had to make time. Janeology by Karen Harrington is a book that draws you in from the first page and you can't stop reading until you know what happens. The story follows Tom Nelson through a thorny criminal trial in which he is accused of having not paid attention to the signs of post-partum depression in his wife that led her to commit infanticide, killing their two-year-old son and nearly drowning his twin, two-year-old Sarah.

While Tom is still reeling from the death of his son, and young Sarah is confused about losing her twin and her mother, the state of Texas is looking for someone to blame for the deaths since the mother is found to be mentally ill at trial and is sentenced to a mental institution. As the story unfolds, Tom's attorney takes an unorthodox defense of his client, saying Tom's wife, Jane, was pre-disposed to this life because of her genes. They then go through the lives of past generations from Jane's family, with the help of a clairvoyant, and discover the unsavory details of her genealogy.

While the clairvoyant may be a bit of a stretch for some readers it actually seemed to be just a quick way for Harrington to get this story out. It wouldh ave been far less effective to have Tom and his lawyer digging through old newspaper articles for the entirety of the book as they unearth the details of Jane's family. The story moves at a quick pace, with each chapter leading into the next and making it impossible to put down.

I thought this was an interesting look at a subject that seems to be in the news more and more these days (very Jodi Piccoult-esque), as well as at how blame gets pushed around in the legal system. There was also an interesting underlying theme of how objects in our lives can keep us connected to pasts and memories we may wish to forget. And it will get you wondering how much of you is made up of your ancestors.

This book was also published by Kunati, and independent book publisher, so if you're interested in debut authors an independent booksellers you might check them out.

Also, you can watch a trailer for the book at Karen Harrington's site.

This book was also reviewed at:
Mysterious Reviews
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Books on the Brain
Booking Mama
Bold Blue Adventure
Maw Books Blog


Kim L said...

I reviewed this one too. I enjoyed it as well.

Even though I didn't feel like I really understood Jane too much more by the end of the book, I enjoyed the vignettes about her ancestors. I wanted more about all of them!

Becca said...

Thanks for giving me your link Kim. I've added it to the post.

I wanted to know about the ancestors too. They were all so interesting! And I wanted to know how the author was able to keep track of all of them. I'd have had to make a pedigree chart and referred to it every two minutes if I were writing this book.

Karen Harrington said...

Thanks for this great review!

Interesting that you mention having to have a pedigree chart to keep up with the characters. That's exactly what I had to do. The chart can be found on my website - and I'm hopeful it will appear in the paperback version.

Thanks for making this author's day!

Literary Feline said...

I like the idea of a pedigree chart. I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. Great review, Becca!

Sandra said...

I enjoyed your review. Good to know you liked the story as I have a copy coming any day now and can look forward to it.