Barking Rain Press, 2015
The Anthropologist's Daughter
How do you help someone who is grieving, when you are grieving yourself? After the death of her mother, ten-year-old Imogen Hearne moves from London with her older sister, Rosalind, and her father to Farleigh, a rural village in North Devon where her father's family has deep roots. Her father hides his grief by burying himself in his work at the university, while Rosalind vents her anguish by acting up and running off with friends - leaving Immy to fend for herself. To pass the time, Immy decides to take after her father and become an anthropologist, studying the different ways that people manage grief. As she wanders through the village and the countryside to study the locals, she watches, listens, and makes notes, looking for clues she can use to bring her fractured family back together again. This moving prequel to The Revolving Year is a welcome reunion with familiar and much-loved characters and places.
"Vanessa Furse Jackson has written a story that is genuine, nostalgic, funny and poignant. As Immy walks the line between childhood and adulthood, we see village life unfold through her eyes. The patchwork quilt of Immy's collected observations becomes a source of entertainment, wisdom, and comfort. I felt like I was there, spending the summer in the English countryside with her." — Val Muller, author, The Scarred Letter and The Girl Who Flew Away.
"An achingly poignant glimpse into a young girl's search for her place in the world, whose anthropological study of the people around her becomes an unexpected excavation of her own motherless family. Vanessa Furse Jackson vividly and deftly pits the adolescent yearnings for self-assurance and independence against the strength of enduring love that binds families together." — Jennifer Leeper, author, Padre: The Narrowing Path.
Barking Rain Press, 2013
The Revolving Year
Devonshire, England—1999. It just might be the end of the world for 35-year-old Imogen Hearne. First, she learns that her beloved older sister has breast cancer, followed by the news that the lease on the small cottage that has been her home for the past ten years will be cancelled in January 2000. The only bright spot on the horizon seems to be an extended visit from her niece Celia, who has recently dropped out from university. But Celia’s visit may turn out to be the cruelest blow of all. For in the midst of Millennium fever, Immy falls unexpectedly — and mutually — in love with Celia’s fiancé. As the year 2000 looms ever closer, Immy will soon be forced to make a life-altering decision. Should she accept this once-in-a-lifetime gift of love, or deny it for the sake of holding together the small, fragile family she treasures?
“Engrossing exposé of the twists and turns of family dynamics, all in the name of love. Ms. Jackson draws the relationships between her characters in such fine detail that the reader is charmed and appalled by turns on the affect that each one has on the life of the others.” — Adele Abbot, author, Postponing Armageddon and Of Machines & Magics
“A fascinating character study of unintended consequences set loose in a disparate family circle.” — Sean Mulcahy, author, Slip Sliding Away
Fithian Press, May 11, 2011
Crane Creek, Two Voices
Poems by Robb Jackson and Vanessa Furse Jackson
This collection tells the story of the first year in a relationship between two poets. The antiphonal voices describe their adventures exploring the natural world of northern Ohio, specifically Crane Creek, on the shore of Lake Erie, and sometimes also on the banks of the nearby Maumee River. One poet, Robb grew up in and near this setting; the other, Vanessa, is from England, and hence experiences many of the natural wonders of New World for the first time. At the heart of the narrative lies the shared experience of falling in love, against and within the changing seasons, and among the wide, wild varieties of birds, mammals, insects, and plants. The poems form a nature guide, to an area and to the wild territory of new love. (Publisher's Website)
(More about this book at the Joy of Story.)
Livingston Press, 2010
Winner of the 2011 PEN Southwest Award for Fiction
These stories examine what can happen when people leave their habitual environments and venture into uncharted territory, whether physically or in the mind. They may not journey far, and the ensuing displacements may be comparatively small, but the consequences are often unforeseen and considerable. In the title story, an elderly woman faces handing over her beloved house to her son and moving to an extension in the garden. In "The Clinic", fourteen-year-old Madeleine must confront the place to which pregnancy has brought her, while his idea of "A Nice Day Out" doesn't quite live up to the expectations of the eager Mr. Whitby. Other stories concern marital discord, the nature of grief, the results of finding themselves on untested ground. Characters are displaced by discontentment, by distance, by deceit, by death. Some of them move on through their displacements. Some are reluctant to face what has happened to them. All are caught in situations that alter in some way the comfortable landscapes of familiarity.
“Small Displacements, with its variety, humor, quiet power, and, most of all, its thorough assumption of its characters’ minds and voices, deserves a much wider readership than usually responds to a subtle and artistic work put out by a small university press.”
- Donald Mace Williams in The Wichita Eagle
“I don’t often warm up to short stories the way I do to novels, perhaps because I don’t get to spend enough time with the characters to know them like real people. But Jackson’s collection paints muscle, fat, and skin onto characters’ skeletons. By the time you finish reading a story, the characters feel as solid as your next-door neighbors.”
- Donna Meredith in Southern Literary Review
The setting of Small Displacements is the damp, chilly, environs of England, shadowy gardens, thatched roofs, rain on the windowpanes, a single footpath through a dark graveyard. The characters busy themselves with the simple and sometimes mundane aspects of living, however each bearing a singular burden that cannot be denied, not forever. In Jackson’s stories people meet for tea, they take the long tube ride into London, they walk the dog in the waning afternoon, conveyed in a classic literary style that is lyrical, richly drawn, and pierced with an emotional tenderness for the characters that is incredibly affecting. Loss comes for them all swiftly and without mercy. One of the constants in these stories is people – often older people near the end of life – talking to their deceased loved ones. The lessons learned are acute and painful, and so true. The dead never leave us.
Vanessa Furse Jackson has written an astonishing little collection of tales, so quaint, English, almost even unfashionable by current literary trends. These are stories almost completely free of irony, without glibness or conceit, and employing the literary devices of Forster and Woolf. The title of the collection is its most ironic act, as of course these are no mere small displacements, rather these are gorgeously written, heartrending stories of human beings making their way in this world and finding truth, despite its terrible costs. Small Displacements is the winner of the 2011 PEN Texas Southwest Book Award for Fiction.
- Matt Bondurant, judge, PEN Southwest fiction award.
Small Displacements indeed form the linking premise of Vanessa Furse Jackson’s new story collection by the same name: in each tale, some shift of elements or dynamics forces characters to adjust, or at least become aware of adjustment’s necessity. But while technically accurate, its quiet title may unfairly reduce this thoughtful collection’s scope, mystery, and delicate power.
Maybe that title means to entice those readers (me among them) who feel so psychically battered by the graphic, dysfunction- and horror-filled fiction pouring into the world lately, we seek any kind of intelligent respite. And Small Displacements delivers that respite – without sacrificing pain or complexity – by way of each story’s sotto voce tone, and by way of an authorial fondness for her addled characters, saturating these tales like a pleasing flavor. . . .
Jackson writes simply and fluidly, without self-consciousness or show. Yet she often seeds her prose with descriptions so deft and apt, you stop to savor them. A billy goat had “pale rinsed eyes.” “I saw a brown and swollen river, careening between its banks like the oiled muscles of a snake.” . . .
... Small Displacements offers the provocative consolation of truth-telling, in stories whose gists sooner or later touch us all.
- Joan Frank in American Book Review
“Small Displacements is a quick, needle-sharp, and gut-punching read.”
- Natalie Ballard in Feminist Review
University of Missouri Press, 2003
What I Cannot Say to You
From the Publisher
Set in England, these are stories that explore the basic nature of friendship: how friendships are formed and deepened, how they can be betrayed and lost. There are friendships between children, married couples, sisters, women, and between grandparents and grandchildren. Throughout, these friendships are tested, coming up against outside forces and internal conflicts that alter or destroy them. (Read More)
"What I Cannot Say to You is a rich, skillful, and powerful collection, treating weighty matter with a light and lingering touch." - Trudy Lewis
Forthright, honest, well crafted." - Kirkus Reviews
"... Jackson writes, with an appealing mix of poignancy and ironic humor, of the bonds that connect friends and lovers and families." - STLtoday.com
ELT Press, 1994
The Poetry of Henry Newbolt: Patriotism Is Not Enough
From the Publisher:
"Vanessa Furse Jackson gives us a fresh look at the man, his poetry and their historical context ..."
"English author Newbolt (1862-1938), a celebrated man of letters at the turn of the century, is today most often typecast as the leading jingoist of the Edwardian age, not unlike Kipling was until recently. Jackson, a great-granddaughter of Newbolt, presents a reexamination of the man, his poetry, and their historical context." - Book News, Inc.