"The Death of Jane Lawrence" Book Review
Written by Sean M. Sanford
Published by St. Martin's Press
Written by Caitlin Starling
2021, 368 pages, Fiction
Released on October 5th, 2021
Jane Shoringfield has a simple desire. Having grappled with flashbacks of surviving her youth in a war-torn community, she wants to find someone to settle down with and start a married life, steeped in comfort and security.
Such is Jane’s modus operandi when making moves to marry Augustine Lawrence, a hardworking surgeon who fits well into her calculations of a new and easy life, free of love, passion, and other complicated shit like that. Augustine is down. He mostly wants a lady-friend to rub his scrubs and pass him the occasional scalpel. A wife who will diligently keep his books, watch after his patients…and never EVER sleep, nor so much as adequately dabble in, their creepy and enormous home on the far reaches of town. Hm. Okay.
But, through weather-induced acts of (probably not) God, she ends up needing to rest her head in said manor for the night. One night turns to many, and therein she discovers a whole cacophony of oddities in Augustine’s ethos; not to mention his past. Oddities that serve to add a few elements of severe creepitude.
Thus unfolds a trajectory that flips love, consequence, and the very definition of life/death right on its asshead.
The fear of death, even when no longer so tuned as to when Jane was a child, often has a mind to remain. When such a thing has been instilled, it tends to underline every aspect of one’s life, and every now and again its subtle anguish is primed to evolve into something that sends the very walls of an assumed reality crashing to the ground.
When I was young, on the brink of the garnered puppetry of adulthood, one thing that was on everyone’s mind, to varying degrees, was a thing called Y2K. Though rarely talked about anymore, as it turned out to be more smoke than fire, there was a time when a lot of people were vocally questioning the immediate future of the planet. The turn of the new millennium. When it was quite possible that, because computers had been programmed before any 2000s were much more than a futuristic wasteland, it was feared that every single thing on Earth that was run by a computer (i.e. everything), was going to stop working at midnight on New Year’s Eve, not having been programmed to begin the year with a 2 rather than a 1.
Not only that, but certain prophets from the days of old had suggested the year 2000 to be one in which God would say fuck it and pull the plug on his little Earth experiment.
One night in October of 1999, when I was 17, I’d had eaten an unfortunate amount of mushrooms. I remember being in my room, when my friends had decided I was a hopeless cause, squirming on my bed in the dark. I could hear (and see) time winding down. The ticking of Earth’s clock slowing to a crawl. The calendar had it wrong, and the year 2000 was starting now. I could hear the sounds of everyone’s mind who I’d ever known because we were all together, in a mesh of every atom everywhere all spiraling together as the planet was disassembled via a black hole.
It was a fact, and I felt it.
Until I didn’t.
I sat up in bed, wiped the sweat from my brow, and went to tell my friends that I had returned to pre-Armageddon reality.
The Death of Jane Lawrence made me think of that night more than a few times, as it toys with the fact that our worlds exist only so much as we perceive them. And those realms can be scary as all hell sometimes. A good book can make you think outside the box, and a great book, like this one, can turn the box into an oval and send you skittering to the nethers. I loved this book for sending me there.
As great as this book is, I recommend not eating mushrooms while reading it.
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