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Continuing my series on books I read (and, more to the point, re-read) as a child, I have to add the Gothic novel that is Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp, about which I've posted before. That's it wearing the cover I remember from when I was a child. And since this cover was issued in 1974 (according to my internet research), that means I was 10 when I read it. Isn't that a cheerful, pink cover? You'd be surprised at the the menace hiding behind that happy cover.

What I remember about this book is that it featured a young girl named Jane, who is, I believe, an orphan under the guardianship of a fairly young woman, and they head off to a big old house to spend a few months with somebody's grandmother or great-aunt. The young woman falls in love with a young man in the neighborhood (who happens to be a doctor). Meanwhile, Jane wanders about the house and sees Emily's room and Emily's things, and in the garden, she gazes into a reflecting ball and "meets" Emily herself. Turns out Emily was a wretched, willful, evil child back in the day, one of those kids who is used to getting what she wants. And what she wants is Jane.

Emily establishes a sort of psychic connection with Jane, and manages to control her to the point that Jane heads outside in a violent storm, gets soaked through, and becomes deathly ill. Meanwhile, the helpful doctor/boyfriend comes and does his best for Jane. It turns out that Emily got herself sick when they were children because she wanted to marry the guy, and he refused to play along. She expected it to earn her some sympathy, but instead it caused her death. (HA! Take that, Emily!) Anyhow, Jane fights Emily and finally, the old lady (who had been Emily's mother, I think), runs out to the glowing mirror ball in the yard and pushes it off its pedestal, shattering it completely, while saying "No Emily! You shan't take Jane! I will not allow it!" (or words to that effect). Emily vanishes, Jane recovers, guardian marries nice doctor, tie it up with a bow and put it on the shelf so I can read it again tomorrow. Or something. Since that's approximately how I read the book.

My guess is that if you read the plot summary, you've correctly surmised how very involved I got in this story as a kid. And you've also probably guessed (again, correctly) that I read this book quite a number of times. The thing is, I did read the book quite a lot of times, all of which were when I was 10 years old and in the 5th grade, where this book was one of several housed in a house-shaped book shelf that had something to do with levelled reading. And dudes, (no shock here, I'm sure) I was reading well past the highest level in that house. In fact, if my mother's memory is correct, I was reading at the college level when I was in third grade. (It's the sort of information they give parents of children who skip a grade, you see.) But I digress.

Anyhoo, I frequently took Jane-Emily off those shelves, because something about that book really had me entranced -- enthralled, even. I was drawn to that book almost the same way as the character Jane was drawn to the reflecting ball in the garden.

Ooh. There on the left is the new cover of the reissue of Jane-Emily from HarperCollins, which was paired with a story called Witches' Children and released last August. Much more ominous than the pink and yellow floral number, wouldn't you say?

And now, to think about the elements that attracted me to the text, which are wound up with the things I recall liking about the book:

1. Malevolent child spirit emanating from inside a reflecting ball (N.B. - I will never own a reflecting ball, and they still vaguely creep me out. For some folks it's clowns; for me, it's garden mirror balls)
2. Orphaned main character. Man, do I love me some orphans. Evidently.
3. Helpful adults, who ultimately believe what to most people would be Jane's outrageous belief that Emily was trying to get at her from beyond the grave
4. Love story between guardian girl and doctor
5. The spine-tingling sense of menace that builds as you read this book, and the almost over-the-top climactic storm scenes (one in which Emily gets Jane sick, one in which Jane fights back).
6. The happy ending. Oh how I loved the ending in this book, which is full of adults accepting personal responsibility and romance and orphan Jane finding a new family (of sorts) and, well, all good things.

See this version of the cover? It's what's on my own personal copy of the book, rescued from a weeding pile at my local school library a few years back. I haven't read the full book since I got it about 4 years ago, but I did make angeladegroot read it. And while I transported it to her, I kinda read the ending and was pretty much transported out of my real world and into the world of the novel (at least the version I created in my own head when I was a kid - it still looks just the same now as it did then; who knew?) My stomach clenched, my pulse quickened, and I was startled to find myself standing on Angela's porch on a sunny morning, and not inside a Victorian house with sash windows during a rainstorm.

What this book has in common with The Borrowers and Little Men from a writer's standpoint (apart from both it and The Borrowers being some version of fantasy: My recollection is that, like the other two books, Jane-Emily does not treat its readers like children. In fact, it may initially focus on the young adult who is Jane's guardian, rather than on the child MC. Again, there was plenty of bad mixed in with the good. A dead child is not sainted, but is instead shown to be a spiteful, malevolent person (talk about your flaws!). Grown-ups differ as to whether they believe in the supernatural elements of the book, but there are some who do. Jane, though being sapped by Emily, retains enough of her own self and strength to remain complex and interesting.

There on the left? The best cover for this book, in my opinion. Oh. And I am guessing that right about now, you are figuring me for a rabid fan-girl when it comes to this novel. If so, you are correct. Even though I've not read the whole thing all the way through since 5th grade, I remember a ridiculously large amount of this book. Because it was that tense, and that eerie, and that good. I'm stoked that it's been re-released, and urge horror fans to give it a gander. (No wonder Coraline didn't freak me out the way it did my beloved mother-in-law: I was already warped by Jane-Emily.)

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 5th, 2008 03:18 am (UTC)
That last picture is the cover I had. I loved that book, I sure wish I knew what happened to my copy. I was actually wondering about Jane-Emily in Barnes and Noble last night, thinking I'd probably never see it again. I had no idea it had recently been re-released. I'll be picking up a copy for sure.

Possibly interesting tangent--I read this book around 6th or 7th grade, and shortly after discovered that Clapp is a family name on my paternal grandmother's side. I never did figure out whether Patricia is actually in my family line or not, though.
Sep. 5th, 2008 04:05 am (UTC)
I recall seeing that cover, and I really liked it best of all. In fact, I'm nearly certain I read the story from inside that coverset at least once, so perhaps I reread it more than I thought!

Clapp's granddaughter is quoted on the page about this book at B&N and possibly elsewhere. Mayhap you can find out a few additional family names and check.
Sep. 5th, 2008 04:47 am (UTC)
It is definitely the creepiest cover. I never really thought of myself as a big fan of scary books, but I loved this and a couple of others that, looking back on them, I realize would qualify. It's going to be days or weeks before I recall the titles of them, though.

Thanks for the B&N tip, gonna go look at that now!
Sep. 5th, 2008 03:20 am (UTC)
Very interesting post...and as I read through it, I kept thinking, "Man, Patricia Clapp sounds so familiar" -- so I looked her up on Amazon, and lo and behold, she wrote one of my favorite childhood books also: Deborah Sampson. I might have read The Tamarack Tree, as well, although it's not nearly as familiar (so it must have been a one-time read).

Clapp wrote a ton of historical tales -- interesting that she also wrote Jane-Emily!
Sep. 5th, 2008 04:08 am (UTC)
She wrote another book called Constance, which I think might have been about a pilgrim woman/girl. And she wrote a nonfiction book about Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, too. But I don't think I read any of the other titles. Just Jane-Emily, over and over and over and over . . .
Sep. 5th, 2008 03:27 am (UTC)
I just read it a month ago, on the trip to see my sister!

I loved it! I read the new reissue, with The Witches' Children.

So creepy, and you're right, there is no talking down to children in it.
Sep. 5th, 2008 04:10 am (UTC)
I don't think I ever read The Witches' Children. I'm glad that my recollection about the absence of down-talking is correct. It's been a common thread in the books I've been talking about, as it turns out. I'm pretty certain that there's a message there.
Sep. 5th, 2008 03:41 am (UTC)
I've been wanting to read this...I'm surprised I missed it as a kid, it seems like something I would have picked up!
Sep. 5th, 2008 04:10 am (UTC)
Unless you read it and forgot about it? It does seem like the sort of thing that was probably up your alley.
Sep. 5th, 2008 04:21 am (UTC)
That last cover is the one I read. You are amazing, I was trying to describe this book to a friend but couldn't remember the name or anything, really, beyond the creepy mirror ball in the garden and the possession. I was entranced by the story as well and will never own a garden ball!

ETA - I also remembered that when Jane said the pansies (or peonies) looked like they had little faces it freaked out the old lady because it was something Emily always said. Not sure why that always stuck in my head though.

Edited at 2008-09-05 04:26 am (UTC)
Sep. 5th, 2008 09:11 am (UTC)
see my comment below! creeeeepy!
Sep. 5th, 2008 12:28 pm (UTC)
My grandmother always said that pansies had happy little faces, so I always thought of them as having faces anyhow, so that part didn't really stick for me. But literaticat memorized the lines and shared them below.

Love the icon, btw.
Sep. 5th, 2008 05:35 am (UTC)
I loved that book too, and read it at least two or three times! And now I'm remembering a similarly creepy book, about several generations of twins with repeating names, and one of the twins died horribly in each generation until the last one. There was an evil doll, and a character named Dilys, and toward the end of the book, one of the narrators--now an old lady--is confined to a wheelchair.

Ringing any bells? It was a really good one.
Sep. 5th, 2008 12:43 pm (UTC)
I went on a Google spree for this one.

Could it be Twin Spell by Janet Lunn, written in 1968, in which twins Jane and Elizabeth go into a store, feel drawn to a doll and buy it, and the doll then causes Elizabeth to fall and break her leg, and the aunt to fall and break her hip. The twins' family then moves into the house, and both girls start having dreams of the 1800s and a small house with a double rose pattern involved?

Or, could it be Revenge of the Dolls, which I definitely read, in which twins Alice & Prissie visit their Aunt Sarah, who makes evil dolls with eyes that glitter. Their cousin Paulie throws one in the fire, and the crazy aunt makes "a special doll" for Paulie. I don't remember what happens, but I know for sure I read that one once.
Sep. 5th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
i'm pretty sure it was "Twin Spell." I may have to buy that one and read it again. Thanks for tracking it down!
Sep. 5th, 2008 02:56 pm (UTC)
No problem. Part of the plot sounded familiar to me (it was the evil doll), so I thought I'd look around for it. I THOUGHT that I'd read Revenge of the Dolls, but I just found it here at the local library and I most certainly did not. It didn't come out until I was 15, and I read the last two chapters and all of it sounded foreign. (But scary!!!)

Now I'm not at all sure about Twin Spell. I sure read a book that had a lot in common with the one you described. And it sounds like something I'd like.

Edited at 2008-09-05 03:03 pm (UTC)
Sep. 5th, 2008 09:10 am (UTC)
I have the green cover, and the new cover. I loved that book a lot.


I still can't see pansies without thinking that.
Sep. 5th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC)
I'd completely forgotten that rhyme. Maybe because my grandmother always said pansies had such happy faces that I always thought of them with faces, so it didn't "sing" to me?

I love pansies. But not mirror balls.
Sep. 6th, 2008 02:15 am (UTC)
You're right, that's creepy! :)
Sep. 6th, 2008 08:42 pm (UTC)
Like all the books you make me read, this was a good one. I love ghost stories. Especially the ones that make the fine hairs on my arms stand up and my scalp tighten and crawl.
Sep. 6th, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC)
Ooh - the scalp-tightening description really nails it. I'm glad you enjoyed the book (I never thought to ask you about it, really). It is a truly eerie story. I hope to read something that creepy by you one of these days.
Sep. 7th, 2008 12:32 pm (UTC)
Yes, I'm hoping to creep out and tighten the scalps of my readers sometime soon. I do have an idea for a ghost story perculating.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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