Book recommendation: See Jane Run by Joy Fielding

I don’t know why the idea of total memory loss intrigues me so much, but it does. The way a person’s brain can just block out their life entirely seems so mysterious to me, and I can’t help wanting to try to understand it better. The problem with that is I don’t have the right background to understand the scientific texts that can fully explain that sort of thing.

But when I see a novel that deals with the subject of total memory loss – like See Jane Run or Being Henry David (which I recommended back in January) – I know that reading that novel would be the perfect opportunity to try to get a better understanding of the concept.

And that understanding comes even easier when the novel is as good as See Jane Run.

See Jane Run opens with the introduction of Jane Whittaker. Jane finds herself, quite literally, standing alone on a street in Boston. She has no idea who she is, although she does have an odd feeling that she was supposed to be out buying milk and eggs so that she could bake a cake. It’s not until she discovers the thousands of dollars in her pocket and that her dress is soaked in blood that she realizes that something a lot more dangerous may be going on.

The rest of the novel focuses on Jane’s recovery and her attempts to discover what happened to cause her to lose her memory. It definitely earns its place in the “thriller” genre; it kept such a tight hold on me that I had a hard time forcing myself to put the novel down so that I could sleep and go to work.

While there are a lot of good things I could tell you about this novel, the aspect I want to focus on in this recommendation is the way it made me feel. Jane’s emotions came through very clearly – clearly enough that I had no trouble experiencing those same emotions myself. There were a fair range of these emotions, of course. Jane was most often feeling desperate or confused, but there was also a lot of anger and, eventually, some satisfaction.

But the strongest feeling to come through was Jane’s frustration. As the summary below says, the medication Jane takes tends to make her zombie-like, and that’s not a situation Jane enjoys. Her frustration at being forced to endure the medication comes through so well at times that it made me want to cry in frustration myself.

Despite those strong negative feelings, however, I truly enjoyed See Jane Run. I should warn you, though, that it does touch on some sensitive subjects (I would tell you what they are, but that would ruin the end of the novel for anyone not bothered by those subjects). So while I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good thriller, I wouldn’t advise it for someone who doesn’t like to read sensitive material.

Goodreads summary

Jane Whittaker finds herself on a downtown street, her pockets stuffed with a large number of crisp $100 bills, the front of her dress soaked with blood. She has no idea of her identity.

After a terrifying night of hiding, Jane ends up in hospital. There, while undergoing a battery of medical tests, she is recognized by one of the nurses. Soon her husband comes to claim her. He is every woman’s dream: popular, respected, wealthy, a tall blond doctor. He takes Jane home and vows to cure her with loving care and modern medicine.

But Jane doesn’t get any better. The medication seems to be turning her into a zombie, and she begins to feel that her private nurse is holding her a virtual prisoner in her own home, isolating her from friends who might help her recover. Can Jane remember her past in time… in time to stop whatever it is that is happening to her, whatever made her lose her memory in the first place, whatever is trying to destroy her and her family?

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