We lucked out this year, and Hank was able to join our discussion on the April book: What You See, the fourth Jane Ryland novel in a series MAF members have been following since book 1. The group has loved following a series as part of our yearly title picks, and we all enjoyed learning more about both Jane’s and Jake’s families. Jane’s family in particular, is highly involved in one of the strands of the plot which concerns the potential kidnapping of the young girl named Gracie, who is soon to be Jane’s niece by marriage. Jane’s sister (who is to be her stepmother) is getting married to a business tycoon who is Gracie’s dad. Gracie’s mom is alternately frightened and calm about the fact that her husband (Gracie’s stepfather) has taken the girl from school for a short holiday with him. Jake is concurrently involved in a high visibility case where a man was stabbed to death in front of a crowd of tourists near Faneuil Hall in Boston. Between these strands lies a personal thread concerning what are Jane’s and Jake’s personal priorities – and how will these affect their relationship.
The group really enjoys the Jake and Jane relationship and we talked with Hank about their future prospects. While she sees them together in the near future, their career paths do have the potential to be a deal breaker. When we asked if it was possible one of them might change their career path, Hank channeled Mona Lisa, and said anything is possible… We also talked to her at length about the whole concept of “what you see” – and how a situation can be seen completely differently by any given group of people. Hank agreed with us that what different characters see, also shades what we as the readers then believe about those characters. We felt it was a very cool way to subtly communicate traits about characters to readers, since it essentially is part of how we come to think about people we meet in real life.
In terms of other characters, we loved Bobby and felt he added a real poignancy to the story. As much as we liked Bobby, we really didn’t like Gracie’s mom Robyn, and weren’t sure what to make of Lewis Wilhoite, Gracie’s stepfather. As Jane proves, there’s contrary facts concerning him that create a great, and believable piece of misdirection. The mother-daughter relationship in city hall between mom, Catherine Siskel and Tenley, who works a traffic surveillance cam there was also believable, both in its portrayal of a teenage college student and in its dead-on depiction of an over-working mom.
At the end of our visit we just had to ask Hank about the ending of What You See in terms of Jane and Jake. (She leaves them at a very important point in their relationship!) Hank guarantees that the opening of the next book, Say No More, the outcome is the first thing we’ll read! We then had Hank exercise her creativity in “staking the cake”. (Cake Pictures already up on the blog!) Hank loved the banner we made for her and her MAF present of local chocolates with our charming toe tag gift tag! From member comments then and since, I will not be surprised if the group continues to follow Jane -- & Hank!