Jennifer is the kind of woman you would want as your friend. You could share your troubles and your joys with her and she would keep your secrets. A mother and grandmother, she works part time in a school, giving dance therapy lessons to special needs children and lives with her slightly grumpy, but loving husband, Gerald, who is a well-known sculptor.
But she has a dilemma; while supporting her friends with their relationship problems she discovers a secret which she ought to reveal but she prevaricates, putting off the awful day because she knows there cannot be a good ending.
And it is relationships which this book is all about. We learn of an important partnership in Jennifer’s past and she is trying to deal with a lack of communication with her daughter. Her young friend, Freya is a vulnerable, needy girl who experiences problems with personal relationships, be it boyfriend or sister. Jennifer’s other friend Abi, seems much more in control. A successful head teacher, she juggles work and social commitments quite well, until her lover moves in. And there is the pivotal male protagonist; a shadowy, complicated individual whose motives are difficult to understand but whose problems must stem from his unloved childhood.
What Jennifer Knows appears at first to be a simple story of village life but as Wendy Janes reveals the layers of complex relationships, conflict and regret it becomes a much deeper story and the outcome for the characters we have come to know, matter a great deal.
At times I was losing patience with Jennifer’s reticence. She is obviously a talented, empathetic woman but she is reluctant to rock the boat. However, in the clever twist at the end of the story she finally chooses to face a problem head-on and takes decisive action.
This is an ideal novel for a book club as there are so many moral issues to discuss. I also found the references to the three schools very interesting as they reflected issues I have also experienced. This is definitely a thought provoking novel.