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Jane of Hearts and Other Stories
by Katharine Weber

Published: 2022-03-01T00:0
Paperback : 202 pages
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At the heart of every story in this collection, Katharine Weber has located a compelling character at a moment when situation, desire, and identity are intersecting and sometimes colliding. Children go door to door selling poison mushrooms. An elderly New Yorker on the brink of losing her freedom ...
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Introduction

At the heart of every story in this collection, Katharine Weber has located a compelling character at a moment when situation, desire, and identity are intersecting and sometimes colliding. Children go door to door selling poison mushrooms. An elderly New Yorker on the brink of losing her freedom bolts for one last dignified adventure. A girl is employed to babysit a sleeping baby she is forbidden to see. A lonely jewelry designer conspires with a graphic designer she has met on jury duty the week before Christmas to introduce her widowed mother to his father. In the title novella, lonely children roaming their Connecticut neighborhood discover a forgotten bomb shelter, which they make their secret headquarters. Jane of Hearts offers Katharine Weber’s readers much to discuss in this lively assortment of her short fiction, each story a precise and nuanced investigation of its moments.

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Excerpt

THISTLES

“I love people more than anything.”
Natalie Oliver looked up from her book at the woman who had broken the silence. There were nine of them still waiting in the jury room for voir dire questioning, seated around the big table as if they were expecting a meal to be served. The jury room was somehow both chilly and stuffy; condensation misted the smeary unopenable window. The repetitively-discussed cold snap seemed to guarantee a white Christmas just three days away. If chosen for this jury, the trial wouldn’t start until early January, they had been told by the court officer who had called out their dozen names and led them to a courtroom, where they had sat in the jury box and listened to presentations by both sides of the case. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Can you identify all the instances of potential danger in these stories?

2. What is the effect of the way the fictional town of Northbury, Connecticut figures in so many of these stories?

3. Some of the stories are in the first person (including the epistolary “Friend of the Family”). What is the effect of this narrative strategy?

4.The same character appears in some of these stories at different moments in her life. How does your knowledge of certain moments in her childhood this affect your sense of her as the author of the letter in “Friend of the Family”?

5. Did you spot the artifacts that appear multiple times in various stories? Does this affect your reading of the collectioner?

6. Can you enumerate some of the ways the title novella connects to nearly every story in the sequence of stories that precede it?

7. Consider the book cover. Has the meaning changed now that you have read the book? Can you identify the artifacts that have appeared in the stories and then again in the novella?

8. Consider the references throughout the title novella to a number of books, from Alice in Wonderland to The Borrowers to Harriet the Spy. The final note of the novella invokes The Turn of the Screw. Do these literary affinities affect your reading of Jane of Hearts?

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