The Thing About Jane Spring by Sharon Krum

It isn’t that Jane Spring has hit a recent romantic dry spell. She has never had a successful relationship, despite the fact that she has every quality a man could want in a partner: punctuality, honesty, intelligence, duty and the ability to give and take orders. She’s good in bed and always gives immediate feedback to her partners so they can learn from their mistakes. In her work as assistant DA for New York she exhibits those same qualities so rigorously instilled in her by her widowed father General Spring, who believes life is a battle and undisciplined civilians only get in the way. So why do witnesses faint and go to the hospital with chest pains after she has cross-examined them?
Then one day Jane is watching a Doris Day movie marathon during a blizzard while she drinks a few bottles of wine. She realizes that Doris always gets what she wants and decides to emulate her. The transformation doesn’t work when she attempts it half-heartedly, so she launches a campaign to change her appearance, her apartment, her voice and her behavior. She is aided in this endeavor by the previous bequest of her grandmother’s clothing, jewelry and personal effects. Jane is able to bedeck herself in pastel suits, cashmere sweaters and stiletto heels. She decorates her apartment in pastels and smiles graciously and purrs in a lady-like fashion. Opinions among her colleagues are mixed; some think it is a strategy to win her latest prosecution and others are convinced she’s having a nervous breakdown. All in her world are agreed that the change is an improvement except the defense attorneys who had based their trial strategies on getting sympathy for defendants she had annihilated on the stand.
The book is interspersed with quotes from Doris Day’s films, which is distracting because they don’t add anything to the plot or characters and because I can’t place the quotes. (Yes, I’ve seen 2 of her films—I watch old movies on TV when I have insomnia, OK?) It could be said that this is typical chick lit with the hackneyed “makeover makes it all better” theme. Also, some might claim the book is inherently anti-feminist because a woman tries to improve her life by changing the outward appearance rather than the inward self. Poppycock! Balderdash! Et cetera! This is about a woman assessing what in her life needs fixing and pursuing it. She chooses an unconventional (or retroconventional) way of achieving her goals and since feminism is about women having more options for what and how they achieve what they want. We needn’t worry overly about feminist objections, I’m thinking—everyone knows they have no sense of humor, so likely they’ll never notice the book anyway.

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