By K. L. Bridgewater
Newly published writer, Katherine Reay, finished her second novel, Lizzy and Jane. The story comes after her highly anticipated book, Dear Mr. Knightley, which is a remake of Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster. There are many similarities and differences between the two plots, but I’m going to stick to three of them to strengthen my review of Lizzy and Jane
Dear Mr. Knightley was written in letter form like Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis or Pamela by Samuel Richardson. The story flowed from the writings of Sam, the protagonist as she used a scholarship from a mysterious supporter. The only stipulation was that she has to continue writing Mr. Knightley, so he could watch her progress at this graduate school of journalism. On the other hand, Lizzy and Jane was told in a straight narrative. We watch the action as it occurs, not later. Lizzy left her restaurant to help her sister, Jane, who battles cancer. Lizzy tries to forgive her sister and make her comfortable by cooking food her sister might be able to eat.
2.) Character Names:
In Dear Mr. Knightley, Sam quoted Jane Eyre and a multitude of Jane Austen when she was nervous or wanted to make a point about something. Jane Austen made an appearance throughout the book. However, in Lizzy and Jane, Lizzy was named after Elizabeth Bennett in Austen’s most popular book, Pride and Prejudice, while Jane is named after Jane in the same book. Lizzy tries to think of food that Jane Austen’s characters would have eaten, which she uses to help her sister eat.
3.) Path in Life:
Both of the protagonist, Sam and Lizzy, have no direction in life. Sam believes she wants to be a journalist because she has been told she writes well, however, when attending her first graduate newspaper classes with Professor Johnson, she doubts her chosen profession. In comparison, Lizzy has the desire and mind of a great chef, but Paul, who gave her the money to buy the restaurant, hired another chef for color and to attract more customers. Both girls, by the end of their respective books, have found their paths for their life and the men to share in their journey.
I truly enjoyed Reay’s first book, Dear Mr. Knightley, but the second book, Lizzy and Jane was not as entertaining. The character of Lizzy seems to only think about cooking in order to move along with her sister. Yes, she does try to think of ways to help her sister eat, but she does not confront her sister until toward the end of the book. Being that close to your sister who hurt you, I believe she would have said something earlier, even if it was a snide remark in passing.
The plot moved very, very slowly. Lizzy took tons of trips to the grocery stores, and as a reader, we got tons of description of the food she bought. I understand she was a chef, but come on already, is that all we need to know about her. We learn nothing about Lizzy as a character, just a chef.
I personally did not like Lizzy and Jane as much as Dear Mr. Knightley. I couldn’t wait to turn the pages in Dear Mr. Knightley as I watched Sam struggle through her life, but Lizzy in Lizzy and Jane was not a sympathetic character. I was bored by her. She was too one-dimensional with no personality.
I received a free digital copy of this book from Thomas Nelson, and the opinions stated are all my own.