Kate Watts
Stephan Flores
English 570
5 March 2009
Discussion starter: The Northern Clemency

Loneliness in London

After the Australian’s death and funeral, Jane wonders how long “until anyone noticed she was missing? From wondering that, the bigger question of who would miss her at all painfully rose” (265). She runs into Francis at a concert and the reader learns he made a decision to be less shy and consciously control his impression on others (279-280). He regrets or at least considers the decision an error because he identifies staying at home (Sheffield) as a better option (282). Jane realizes she is forcing interaction with Francis as an attempt to feel a bond which doesn’t exist between them. Jane pushes Sheffield further away after envisioning a life with Francis as very similar to her mother’s life (282). Book 2 ½ began with roommate strife, but ends with the possibility of a new bond between Jane and Scott (283). Jane is choosing to fight her loneliness by welcoming the new (Scott), disconnecting from the old, and attempting to create/control another “moment of significant influence” in her life (251).

Danielle Yadao
Jane’s Insights
In the first half of the novel, Jane is a character that can be easily overlooked and dismissed. But there are times when Jane is surprisingly insightful. On page 65, “Jane could see that her mother was making a mistake.” And on page 73, she reflects on Nick and sees through his facade, even as she understands her mother’s attraction. The narrator supports this insight and pushes it further, almost like a warning to the reader about men like Nick.
And then, eight years later, Jane is reintroduced to us for forty pages or so. And still, aside from her flat mate’s undignified departure, Jane is a bit lackluster as a character. Jane’s vision of a possible future on page 282 is another interesting reflection. In her mind Jane sees a life with Francis, an unhappy life that is strikingly similar to the life her mother led. Subsequently, Jane rejects this life, or the idea of this life. Here, Hensher seems to be using Jane’s musings as a voice about change in life and perhaps British politics. Does Hensher use Jane as an informer of themes and ideas that run throughout the novel? What is the importance of Jane?