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Just Jane: A Daughter of England Caught in the Struggle of the American Revolution (Great Episodes) Paperback – May 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up-Set in South Carolina during the American Revolution, this novel about an orphaned English girl of noble birth reverberates with the tension and turmoil of the period. Peopled with multilayered characters brought to life through Lavender's rich prose, this story will grasp and hold readers to the last page. The book, which spans six years of history, unfolds in 1776 as Lady Jane Prentice, 14, is sent to America to live with an uncle she has never met. She arrives just as passions concerning relations between the colonies and England are reaching a fever pitch. Her loyalties are torn between her Uncle Robert, a staunch loyalist, and her cousin Hugh, a patriot outspokenly in favor of independence. Shortly after she reaches South Carolina, she begins to attend school headed by schoolmaster Simon Cordwyn. The gradual intertwining of their lives becomes a pivotal focus of the tale. Both express pacifist sentiments as they are caught up in the conflict. This is historical fiction at its best, dovetailing vivid factual information with a riveting, beautifully written story. It dramatically details the horrors of war as it spotlights the devastating effect on families and close friends who wind up on opposite sides of an issue.
Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. As the book opens in 1776, 14-year-old Lady Jane Prentice, recently orphaned, crosses the Atlantic to live with her Uncle Robert and his wife, Clarissa, in South Carolina. There she becomes aware of differing factions: the Loyalists, including her uncle and his young nephew, an impetuous young man who declares his intention to marry her upon first sight; and the rebels, one of whom is Simon the schoolmaster, who seems to love Jane, though he appears to be having an affair with Clarissa. Soon, the locale switches from Charleston to Rosewall Plantation, some 30 miles inland, where Jane grows up over the next six years of personal questioning, family feuds, and political turmoil, culminating in the Battle of Rosewall. The story's long time frame, historical background, and subplots make it necessary for the author to bring readers up to speed from time to time; the more involving sections of the novel are those in which events simply unfold. Still, many readers will find Jane's story enjoyable, and historical fiction fans may find it refreshing to read a novel set in the South during the Revolution rather than during the Civil War. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: Great Episodes
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152054723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439810708
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #684,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Lavender, a man of many talents, studied music composition in college, and spent a long time writing musical scores for films before turning to writing historical fiction. Most recently he published two "young adult" novels:

JUST JANE (Harcourt-Brace & Scholastic editions) tells the story of Jane Prentice, a young English girl sent to live in South Carolina in 1776, who is forced to choose between her in-bred English loyalties and her newfound American "Patriot" friends and family.

AFTERSHOCKS (Harcourt-Brace) centers on young Jessie Wainwright's double quest -- to become one of the first women doctors, and to find her lost sister amid the rubble of the devastating San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.

Both titles, edited by leading YA editor Karen Grove, are available via Amazon.

Before writing about Jane Prentice and Jessie Wainwright, Lavender authored several other historical novels. The first, CHINABERRY, was a best-seller chronicling the life, loves and scandals of a plantation family before and during the Civil War. Forbidden black-white romance lies at the heart of this dramatic story.

Lavender also published a trilogy called THE HARGRAVE JOURNALS, chronicling the adventures of several generations of a family on American frontier. The three exciting books are: CHILDREN OF THE RIVER, JOURNEY TO QUIET WATERS and FIELDS ABOVE THE SEA.

All the above titles are available via Amazon.

Lavender and his wife, Mary (his lead researcher) published a much-cited article on the little-known but highly dramatic story of the women who fought -- to the point of imprisonment, hunger strikes, and forced-feeding -- to secure American womens' right to the vote, prior to final victory in 1920 (appeared in AMERICAN HISTORY magazine, October 2003 at http://www.historynet.com/suffragists-storm-over-washington-dc-in-1917.htm#hide)

Lavender's much-beloved children's musical play, THE INVISIBLE PEOPLE, has been produced over 60 times and is available through Dramatic Publishing Company (http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p2442/The-Invisible-People-%28musical%29/product_info.html)

Mr. Lavender's top piece of advice for everyone -- read! Read lots of books, and then read some more. It will turn out to be the smartest thing you ever did.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Janeifer Drew on June 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Since my name is Jane, I could not resist buying this book when I saw it. It lived up to my expectations and Jane Prentice is very worthy of the name Jane.

When Lady Jane Prentice at 14 arrives in America from England, she is already able to take care of herself, because she had been w/o a mother since the age of 3 and her father (a penniless earl) never paid her much attention. She is met by her Uncle Robert's brother-in-law, Arthur Ainsley, and his family. Jane immediately becomes attached to "Uncle Arthur" and "Aunt Harriet". The Ainsley's son, Brandon, is romantically interested in Jane.

Jane stumbles upon the schoolmaster, Simon Cordwyn, and he invites her to join his school, because he sees in her an intelligent and inquisitve mind. People question Simon's political standing, but he maintains his neutral position in the rising rebellion.

Jane is annoyed at how everyone treats her like a child. She believes she is capable of understanding the upcoming conflict between England and America. Finally, Simon Cordwyn explains the situation in full to her. She slowly begins to sympathize with the Patriots but is still loyal to England.

Meanwhile, there is strife in Jane's family. Uncle Robert is a staunch Loyalist but Cousin Hugh is a dedicated Patriot. Jane is not allowed to even visit her cousin Hugh because of his Patriot leanings. However, she manages to meet him with the help of Simon Cordwyn.

As war breaks out, Jane finds herself torn between her family; half of which are Patriots, and the other half Loyalists. Jane tries to remain neutral, but finds it harder and harder to do so.

Jane is pursued not only by Brandon Ainsley, but the British officer Captain Flemming.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Cami Turpin on May 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
As an avid reader of young adult fiction, I was immediately drawn to this interesting and beautiful book. The writing was good, the history interesting and informative, and the characters intriguing, but I had a few concerns.

My biggest concern is that adultery is made to look understandable and sympathetic. While the female, married counterpart is held accountable and punished for her part in the affair, Simon (the hero and love interest to our heroine) needs only tell Jane he has ended it in order to recieve her forgiveness. This man is regarded as the moral compass of the entire book, and yet never once is his part in the affair discussed in any way other than part of a misunderstanding which makes Jane jealous. We don't know how far this affair has gone, but isn't a romantic relationship with a married woman something that should at least be considered a flaw in this hero's past? Shouldn't we see the morally sound and defiant Jane actually consider that maybe he isn't quite her match (especially since the affair was with her aunt, old enough to be her mother)?

This is one of the many moral contradictions I find in Jane. She talks big, but can't back it up. She is horrified to find Simon is having an adulterous affair, but really only because she is jealous. She refuses to indulge the attentions of an advantageous connection for whom she has no real feelings to those who ask it of her, but then she does it anyway because she's having a good time. In fact, she continues to indulge the attentions of her cousin Brandon as well, each time only telling the truth when it suits her. And yet the other characters continue to consider her a remarkable and moral woman.

The biggest problem with this is that it is written for ages 12 and up. These are adult issues.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By MAB on July 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Just Jane: A Daughter of England Caught in the Struggle of the American Revolution" holds the status as best Revolutionary War book, in my eyes. Finally, an author who wrote a female character as not rebelling against her female roles in society. Finally, an author who did not sugar coat what happened to torn families or captured men. Finally, an author who didn't need to end everything on a happy note. The beginning may seem slow, but once Jane matures and the war progresses, the story picks up speed, it will make you never want to put the book down. I recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By daughter of history on June 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Just Jane is a fantastic read! Not only do you learn a lot about the revolution, but you have a wonderful story to get caught up in. This book lets the reader see both sides of the war,loyalist and patriot. You end up falling in love with the patriot characters and the loyalist characters. You feel everything that Jane is feeling,the confusion,the frustration,the longing for something that may never come to be. William Lavender has given us the chance to take a tiny glimpse into the struggle that the revolution caused in a divided family. Five stars for William Lavender!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By 2mnychats on December 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a middle school American history teacher and have just finished reading Just Jane. I was so enthralled by the story line, that I was unable to put the book down and finished it in one day. I plan on having my class read this book as a group. It will easily reinforce some of the topics we have covered thus far this year. I highly recommend Just Jane to any middle schooler, and many adults may enjoy it as well.
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