The Evolution of Janeby Cathleen Schine
Jane Barlow Schwartz is obsessed with one question: why did her best friend Martha stop being her best friend? The two girls, distant cousins, had shared idyllic childhood summers in the New England seaside town of Barlow, named for their family's founding fathers. Martha was not just Jane's friend but her idol, her soul mate, her confidante. Then, somewhere along the… See more details below
Jane Barlow Schwartz is obsessed with one question: why did her best friend Martha stop being her best friend? The two girls, distant cousins, had shared idyllic childhood summers in the New England seaside town of Barlow, named for their family's founding fathers. Martha was not just Jane's friend but her idol, her soul mate, her confidante. Then, somewhere along the line, the friendship ended. What went wrong? Was it the family feud, which their parents spoke of only in hushed tones? Did Jane do something unforgivable? When the cousins are reunited unexpectedly on a tour of the Galapagos, they meet Darwin head on. Jane traces back through her Yankee-Cuban-Jewish ancestry to try to pinpoint the 'splitting event,' the moment when Martha was no longer the Martha she knew. In the process, she ponders the origin of species and the origin of friendship, the instincts of exotic wildlife and of her eccentric shipmates, the evolution of nature and of her life.
Jane is on a nature tour of the Galapagos Islands, where Darwin developed his theory of evolution, to "recover" from her divorceeven though, she states unequivocally, the divorce was far less stressful to her psyche than the memory of being inexplicably rejected by her cousin and best friend, Martha, in high school.
When Martha turns up as the tour guide on Jane's trip, Jane becomes obsessed with trying to find an explanation for the breach of friendship, ultimately turning to Darwin's evolutionary theories. Schine gets points for effort, but unfortunately the results are ridiculous.
"And so, as I mulled over the problem of species, I recognized that there existed between the origins of life and Martha Barlow an important link: the confusion experienced by Jane Barlow Schwartz. This link was extremely suggestive. It seemed to promise some related solution. If A = (?) and B = (?), then all one has to prove is (?). It was obvious. The mechanism that explained the transmutation of species would explain Martha's transmutation, the transmutation of friendship."
Read Schine's last novel, The Love Letter, instead.
"Schine renders her story with such deftness and humor that the reader can't help but be enchanted . . . A delightful exercise in literary wit, a perfect summer screwball comedy." The New York Times
"A sensual treat . . . Light as a souffle, rich as a sundae, and as satisfying as love." The San Diego Union-Tribune
"Letter perfect . . . An affair to remember, a book you won't forget. Grade: A." Entertainment Weekly
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.70(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.63(d)
Read an Excerpt
THE EVOLUTION OF JANE
by Cathleen Schine
National bestseller and critically acclaimed novelist, Cathleen Schine is a writer more closely akin to Jane Austen or George Eliot than to her contemporaries. Her comedic parodiesnovels of social peril in the modern ageare witty and madcap, cerebral and introspective. She is an author who never discredits her reader's knowledge of literature, offering bits of prose poems, medieval limericks, and whole subplots of eighteenth century tracts as insider's jokes and to enhance the telling of her own story. All the while, Schine entices her audience to read deeper into her protagonists who live their lives acutely attuned to their own literary finds, mirroring the experience we have when we read Cathleen Schine. As Margaret Nathan becomes engrossed in her newfound novel of seduction, "Rameau's Niece," we become engrossed in our own Rameau's Niece. Schine's comedies of manners, set in familiar neighborhoods and peopled with instantly recognizable characters, reflect our own lives with wit and sympathy.
About the Books
The Evolution of Jane
The Love Letter
To the Birdhouse
Alice in Bed
The Evolution of Jane
Blending the romance of travel with memories of childhood, the national-bestseller The Evolution of Jane draws on unusual material from the literary realmevolutionary historywhile retaining the trademark slapstick and biting wit of a Cathleen Schine novel. In its setting, the novel marks a departure from Schine's traditionally urban environments, taking the characters to the remote Galapagos Islands six hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador. On that island made famous by Darwin's observations of curious species, Schine chooses to observe her favorite curious species, the human one, and one of its most puzzling habitsfriendship.
ABOUT CATHLEEN SCHINE
Cathleen Schine was born in 1953 in Connecticut, where she grew up reading an eclectic mix of literature. At Sarah Lawrence College, she tried to write poetry, but was distracted by a growing interest in medieval literature, which drew her to Barnard College in Manhattan, where she could comb the extensive library stacks of both Barnard and Columbia University. Here, her range of reading narrowed almost exclusively to thirteenth century illuminated manuscripts, all written in Latin. In her sophomore year, Schine was diagnosed with colitis, a painful intestinal disease. Prescribed steroids soon led to a secondary ailmentpainful inflammation and gradual disintegration of her hips. Schine underwent hip surgery at the young age of twenty.
AN INTERVIEW WITH CATHLEEN SCHINE
The protagonists in your novels all have profound relationships with literature. How did your relationship with literature begin? Who are your favorite novelists?
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
I really loved this book. The author creatively weaved the story of Jane figuring out what happened between her and her friend and Darwin's evolution theories he developed from the Galapagos Islands. The way Jane applies Darwin to her life was very amusing. Her shipmates are hilarious. This book really made me want to read other books by this author, even though I have never heard of her before. A must read for the intelligent woman who hasn't quite figured it all out yet!
Somewhat interesting and light read. Liked the Darwin stuff and learning about the Galapagos. Sometimes a little self-indulgent.