Second Hand Jane - Michelle Vernal (2014)

Jessica Jane Bare, an antipodean freelance journalist who now lives in Dublin, Ireland, has escaped the clutches of her overbearing mother and in between her disastrous love life and her column writing has a passion for all things preloved which has earned her the affectionate nickname "Second Hand Jane". Jess collects the 606D ladybird fairy tale books and after completing her collection with a copy of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, she espies a name in the cover of the book, Amy Ahearne. Inspired for an idea for her column, Jess decides to track down Amy. What follows sets off a chain of events for Jess as she meets the enigmatic Owen Ahearne - Amy's pig farming brother. Owen relays Amy's story to Jess and intrigued, she travels down to Glenarrif to meet him. Little does she know that in hearing Amy's story, Jess's life is to be changed irrevocably but not before encountering a runt piglet, a suave property developer and evading her mother's interfering attempts to marry her off. This book was simply stunning. The writing was by turns comical and sad; I was so moved by the story that I literally cried when I finished the book. The characters are wonderfully structured and Jess in particular was such an appealing and endearing heroine. The book was so multi-layered and the author dealt with so many themes which I think many women can resonate with - failed relationships, the tenuous mother and daughter relationship, how appearances can be deceptive and the importance of second chances. "One man's junk is another man's treasure": indeed, this is a message which the author conveys in her book albeit both literally and metaphorically. It was a book about healing and only when we let go of the burdens of the past can we truly move forward. I enjoyed the story immensely: it was fresh, well plotted and such a beautiful book to read. (LP)

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