Thursday 11 August 2022

Book Review: Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall

Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall book cover

AD* | Tell them you’re looking for Jane.


When Angela Creighton discovers a mysterious letter containing a life-shattering confession in a stack of forgotten mail, she is determined to find the intended recipient. Her search takes her back to the 1970s when a group of daring women operated an illegal underground abortion network in Toronto known only by its whispered code name: Jane...


As a teenager, Dr Evelyn Taylor was sent to a home for “fallen” women where she was forced to give up her baby for adoption - a trauma she has never recovered from. Despite harrowing police raids and the constant threat of arrest, she joins the Jane Network as an abortion provider, determined to give other women the choice she never had.


After discovering a shocking secret about her family history, twenty-year-old Nancy Mitchell begins to question everything she has ever known. When she unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she feels like she has no one to turn to for help. Grappling with her decision, she locates “Jane” and finds a place of her own alongside Dr Taylor within the network’s ranks, but she can never escape the lies that haunt her.

Weaving together the lives of three women, Looking for Jane is an unforgettable debut about the devastating consequences that come from a lack of choice - and the enduring power of a mother’s love.

Looking for Jane is a multi-timeline historical novel spanning five decades.

The first timeline follows several teenage girls in a home for fallen women. They are subjected to horrific treatment and forced to give up their babies for adoption. Two of the girls form a close bond, despite rules expressly forbidding the forging of friendship, and it isn't long before they are formulating a plan to escape with their newborns. 

The second timeline is that of Nancy, who finds herself in need of the Jane network when everything she thought she knew about herself is suddenly cast into doubt. Determined to do her bit to help other women in need, Nancy joins the network and soon finds herself in the thick of the action.

The last timeline is set in the present day and focuses on Angela, who one day happens upon a life-changing letter. Torn between doing what is right for her and what is right for the letter's intended recipient, Angela faces a difficult decision and a long journey ahead.

As there are so many different strands to the story, it can get confusing quite quickly if you aren't careful! I started reading the book late at night and got thoroughly mixed up, ending up having to reread it the next day when my mind was clearer. However, as you progress through the book and familiarise yourself with all the key characters, it's much easier to follow each different plotline.

The key element that links all three timelines is the Jane network. For various reasons, each character is involved in the network and is 'looking for Jane'. Their individual stories are carefully woven together with plenty of twists and turns! 

Immersive and engaging, Looking for Jane is an emotionally-charged tale of adoption, love and loss, and a vital yet little-known part of North America's recent history. It's well worth a read - and given the events currently going on across the pond, arguably more relevant now than ever before.

Rating: 3 stars

Looking for Jane is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below! 

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