Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stealing Jenny

Stealing Jenny, the third novel by award-winning Canadian author Ellen Gable, combines crime drama with psychological thriller in a book that I found impossible to put down. We read from time to time in the news about attacks upon pregnant women and the kidnapping of infants by certain deranged persons, finding it hard to believe that anyone could be that crazy. Unfortunately, the unique circumstances created by our time, in which women can have almost total control over the procreative process, have some unsettling repercussions. Babies come to be seen not as gifts from God but as commodities to be bought, manufactured or stolen. Furthermore, postponing conception for years and years while remaining sexually active can sometimes result in infertility. The more we try to bend nature and make it conform to pure pleasure, the more we must deal with the by-products of nature when it rebels.

Stealing Jenny deals with the use and abuse of our natural procreative gifts on several different levels. During the course of the highly suspenseful narrative there are brief flashbacks to certain incidents in the lives of two  different women, to their first sexual encounters, and the decisions which follow. It is a scary and inevitable reality that choices made when we are in the midst of our youthful follies can haunt us for life. They can set off quite a chain of events from which it can be difficult to extricate oneself. The words of the Psalmist were brought home to me once again: "The sins of my youth and my ignorances do not remember." Psalm 24(25):7 They are especially true in Ellen's novel, where mercy and redemption are offered again and again, to be accepted or rejected by the characters. Free will is a awe-inspiring and terrifying gift.

Another aspect of Stealing Jenny is that while we are able to see the characters from the outside we are also given a glimpse of their inner troubles and struggles. The Callahan family, who appear to be the perfect Catholic family from the outside, have their own set of problems and worries. Their existence is far from perfect, although it arouses the envy of a malevolent outsider. We are shown, as so often happens in reality, how jealousy and envy can destroy lives as quickly as a hand grenade. In Ellen's book, however, the love between a husband and a wife, being a force of nature with supernatural connotations, is able to reach across the darkness caused by evil. I would highly recommend this book for older teens and women of all ages.

(*NOTE: Stealing Jenny was sent to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.)

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3 comments:

Georgette said...

Sounds very interesting. Coincidently, last night I went to a lecture by Dr Janet Smith; and among the many things discussed was the current increase of infertility experienced by many women who used chemical contraceptives for years and/or suffered scarring from infections and STDs from years of sexual promiscuity. Someone mentioned that Dr Billings (of the Billings institute) once said about all this, "God always forgives; man sometimes forgives; nature never forgives." Definitely truth to this statement.

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks, Gette, that totally ties in with this novel!

Matterhorn said...

Nature may not forgive, but nature does tolerate much abuse. Otherwise, everything would have blown up long ago.