A remarkable debut about intergenerational female relationships and resistance found in the unlikeliest of places, We, Jane explores the precarity of rural existence and the essential nature of abortion.
Searching for meaning in her Montreal life, Marthe begins an intense friendship with an older woman, also from Newfoundland, who tells her a story about purpose, about a duty to fulfill. It’s back home, and it goes by the name of Jane.
Marthe travels back to a small community on the island with the older woman to continue the work of an underground movement in 60s Chicago: abortion services performed by women, always referred to as Jane. She commits to learning how to continue this legacy and protect such essential knowledge. But the nobility of her task and the reality of small-town life compete, and personal fractures within their group begin to grow.
We, Jane probes the importance of care work by women for women, underscores the complexity of relationships in close circles, and beautifully captures the inevitable heartache of understanding home.
Praise for We, Jane:
“An incendiary novel about love between women, reproductive rights, rural Newfoundland and a brave, absolutely fierce feminism in a world ‘simmering with heat and rage.’ It’s about coming home, about risk, and passing the torch. Beautifully crafted, alive with vision, propulsive and intimate, this novel knocked me off my feet. We, Jane is striking, indelible.” —Lisa Moore, author of Something for Everyone
2021 Concordia University First Book Prize Jury Citation:
“We, Jane is a riveting story of Montreal meets outport Newfoundland, the complex relationships among women, and how important it is to care for the female body, and our right to a choice. Eerie, atmospheric, and tormented, Wall’s narrative about a group of lost and found souls connected by a shared mission to provide safe reproductive health services to rural Newfoundland communities mirrors the struggle against paralysis so many women have faced in the battle to control their bodies. Wall’s ability to capture the essence of what home means and what it means to be away is stunning. With a mix of humour and wit, she illustrates life on the mainland versus being on the island. We, Jane is a necessary fiercely feminist read, beautifully crafted and [a] striking first novel. It’s complex, heartfelt and intimate.”
2021 Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction Jury Citation:
“In three concise and focused sections, Aimee Wall explores the “underground” network of abortion providers, the “Janes.” The protagonist Marthe is lost in an entirely relatable way: she is tired of the vernissages and the fancy cocktails poured in alleyway pop-ups on the plateau of Montreal. She wants to belong to a sisterhood and a life with greater purpose. The premise of the book is fascinating, the character of Marthe is intriguing, and the gaping desire we all have to belong and to count for something is deftly drawn. The structure, dialogue, scene, and transitions are all seamlessly stitched to form a compelling literary experience. Written with great skill and intelligence, the book … is at once poetic, serious and filled with light.”
Most Anticipated: Our 2021 Spring Fiction Preview —49th Shelf
58 Canadian works of fiction coming out in spring 2021 —CBC Books
“We, Jane is an ode to the power of vulnerability, the potential intensity of connections between women, and the importance of continuing to support women even when it seems impossible.” —Gemma Marr, The Miramichi Review
“The book is ultimately a feminist tale, one that shows how complicated and manipulative relationships between women can be, while implying the necessity of coming together for a greater purpose. We, Jane is captivating, well written, and mostly an important read for any woman who, through loss, wants to find a new beginning.” —Yara El-Soueidi, Montreal Review of Books
Exciting Fiction to Read This Spring —49th Shelf
Aimee Wall on The Great Canadian Abortion Novel —49th Shelf
8 New Spring Books That Explore The Intricacies Of Motherhood —Chatelaine
The CBC Books spring reading list: 32 great Canadian titles to read in spring 2021 —CBC Books
Long Story: Aimee Wall’s Stunning Debut Novel Follows the Legendary Underground Abortion Network, “Jane” —Open Book
How I Wrote It: Aimee Wall explores care for women by women and rural access to abortion in her debut novel We, Jane —CBC Books
“Wall’s first novel is still electric in its fragmented, almost screenplay-like prose that dizzies the mind. The fragments capture abortion’s place in public discourse faithfully: something we gesture to, tip toe around, but never quite say openly… We, Jane provides a personal, honest glimpse into the big questions we as women ask out loud and the small, private ones we only think about.” —Rebecca Mangra, Canthius
Read an Excerpt from We, Jane by Aimee Wall —NUVO Magazine
“This is writing that sings, and We, Jane, brief though it is, is the literary equivalent of a grand and captivating aria.” —Steven Beattie, That Shakespearean Rag
“This is a lyrical tale, told in writing spare and assured by first-time author Aimee Wall, best known for her translations of cutting-edge fiction into French. In fewer than 200 pages, Wall brings to life the women of Jane, their work and the cultural context of their home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.” —Amanda Le Rougetel, Herizons Magazine
“Having worked primarily as a translator before writing this novel, Wall employs a strong sense of nuance and subtlety in language and storytelling to explore multifaceted characters. We, Jane takes risks from start to finish, making it a consequential and rewarding read.” —Kris Rothstein, PRISM International
“A meditation on purpose, the complexities of female friendships, and the fundamentality of the right over one’s own body, We, Jane is witty, unexpected, poetic and so necessary.” —Savannah Stewart, Maisonneuve
Newfoundlander Aimee Wall’s debut novel nails it —Joan Sullivan, The Telegram
“We, Jane engages the topic of abortion but looks more closely, and deftly, at the social dynamics of activist work, and how this work is inextricable from personal pride, self-worth, and romanticized ideas about female friendship.” —Alexandra Trnka, Journal of Newfoundland and Labrador Studies
The battle of the books is back as N.L. Reads returns —Elizabeth Whitten, CBC Books NL
“We, Jane is a study in how an idea can impact our lives, and how our lives fit into an idea.” —Larissa Page, Cloud Lake Literary
The best Canadian fiction of 2021 —CBC Books
Top 10 Books of 2021 —Joan Sullivan, SaltWire
Editors’ Picks for January 2022 —Kiley Turner, 49th Shelf