Lizzy and Jane: A Novel, by Katherine Reay – A Review

Lizzy and Jane Katherine Reay 2014 x 200From the desk of Kimberly Denny-Ryder:

Anyone with siblings can tell you how tumultuous of a relationship you can have with them. There are times where you love them to death for being a shoulder to cry on or a voice of reason. Then there are the times where they think they know everything and refuse to see you as your own individual. Katherine Reay explores the complex relationship of two sisters undergoing some intense situations in both their personal and professional lives in Lizzy and Jane.

After losing her mom to cancer, Lizzy cannot deal with the emotional burden and leaves home. She turns her anguish into a relentless energy to create in the kitchen, and works endlessly to become a respected chef. Eventually Lizzy becomes the owner of a swanky New York City restaurant, Feast. After a good amount of success, she begins to lose some of her earlier skills and the restaurant begins to falter. Paul, the restaurant’s financial backer, brings another chef in to fix this, and Lizzy does what she does best—runs away. Unfortunately she runs into another cancer diagnosis, and this time it’s her sister, Jane. Lizzy decides to finally stand her ground and deal with this new blow, and as she tends to her family she finds her abilities to create amazing foods return to her. Now, Paul attempts to woo her back to New York, but how will she react to this now that old hurts with Jane are healed?

Having a sister myself I immediately connected with this book; Lizzy and Jane’s journeys were deeply relatable for me. Due to the circumstances of their adolescence, Lizzy feels like her role is being a caretaker and a tasker. She knows what makes her tick as a professional, but lets her personal life derail her. Her sister’s cancer diagnosis as well as all of the unresolved anger that exists between the two over their mother’s death continuously eats away at her. As a person who lives her life putting her feelings and emotions into her profession, this doesn’t make for a good recipe for Lizzy’s future in the restaurant.

Jane on the other hand has an overwhelming amount of guilt and fear ruling her life. Her cancer diagnosis has made her think of her mother and the unsettled issues that stem from her death. She’s let it eat away at her marriage and the relationship she has with her children. In the end, Lizzy and Jane both exist in these self-created worlds of isolation. Their only hope to is help one other heal and in the process learn how to allow others in.

I cannot express in words how much I truly loved this book. Reay’s writing is incredibly touching and well-developed. To see how alike Lizzy and Jane were to each other and how blind they were to the parallels was astonishing. But I guess that’s life, right? We don’t always see how we’re the same as others. We all strive to be individuals, but sometimes the best way to heal is to connect with someone on a level of similarity.

Lizzy and Jane is a tale of great individual growth and familial healing that will move your heart and soul. With themes of love, family, and the power of forgiveness, this is the perfect read for the holidays.

5 out of 5 Stars

Lizzy & Jane: A Novel, by Katherine Reay
Thomas Nelson (2014)
Trade paperback & eBook (352) pages
ISBN: 978-1401689735

Additional Reviews:

Cover image courtesy of Thomas Nelson © 2014; text Kimberly Denny-Ryder © 2014, Austenprose.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

10 thoughts on “Lizzy and Jane: A Novel, by Katherine Reay – A Review

    • There are many, many Austen references sprinkled throughout. Lizzy and Jane’s mom loved to read Austen when they were growing up, so they each feel a connection with the stories. Jane likes to have someone read to her while she is having her chemo treatments, so Lizzy reads aloud from Austen novels. The great thing about Reay’s novels (both of them so far) is that someone who has never read any JA can read and enjoy them as standalone fiction. But for Austen lovers, the references throughout add a lot of depth to the characters.

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  1. I loved the Dear Mr. Knightley story and it really tugged on my emotions. It looks like this one does more of the same.

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  2. I have a new author to read now. I haven’t read Mr. Knightley’s story yet so am looking forward to 2 books. Having older sisters, I am interested in Lizzy’s ability to cope with her sister. I usually fight instead of run away. Thanks for the review.

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