Rylands, Jane Turner 1939–
Rylands, Jane Turner 1939–
PERSONAL: Born 1939; married Philip Rylands (museum director). Education: Graduated from the College of William and Mary.
ADDRESSES: Home—Venice, Italy. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Pantheon Books, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Writer and educator. University of Maryland, European division, teacher of English for seventeen years.
Venetian Stories, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Across the Bridge of Sighs: More Venetian Stories, Pantheon Books (New York, NY) 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: American expatriate Jane Turner Rylands has lived in Venice, Italy, for over thirty years and has written two short-story collections about her adopted home. The first, Venetian Stories, focuses on the city from the viewpoints of both visitors and natives. There are certain characters—such as Luigi, the postman—who feature in multiple stories, and this helps create a feeling of interconnectedness among the tales. Booklist reviewer Michael Spinella noted that the "carefully crafted and intertwined vignettes" are written in "magnificent prose." Salon.com contributor Charles Taylor was less enamored of Venetian Stories, observing that the collection feels "slight" in comparison to the work of other writers in the same genre. Taylor did, however, call the book "a pleasing diversion." Moreover, Ravi Shenoy, writing in a Library Journal review, voiced appreciation for Rylands's "keen observation" of her characters, and found the collection to be "wickedly funny." A Kirkus Reviews critic also praised the volume, calling it "charming" and "a smart and vivid debut."
Rylands followed Venetian Stories with Across the Bridge of Sighs: More Venetian Stories, a collection which "picks up masterfully" where Rylands's last effort left off, according to Booklist reviewer Frank Caso. This reviewer also found that the stories "provide a wonderful insight" into Venice. Shenoy, writing once more in the Library Journal, called the tales "simultaneously ironic and sympathetic," and again praised Rylands's "wicked humor." Additionally, a Publishers Weekly critic observed that the author "sometimes loses her characters in lofty prose," but felt that despite this the stories "prove entertaining" and ultimately twine together "with ease." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews noted that Rylands writes with a "simplicity" that comes from "experiencing a world in translation" by nature of being a foreigner, and thus regarded Rylands as "a singularly perceptive outsider." The contributor summed up Across the Bridge of Sighs as "elegant, worldly-wise and as captivating" as Venice itself.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2003, Michael Spinella, review of Venetian Stories, p. 1645; November 1, 2005, Frank Caso, review of Across the Bridge of Sighs: More Venetian Stories, p. 26.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2003, review of Venetian Stories, p. 503; September 1, 2005, review of Across the Bridge of Sighs, p. 940.
Library Journal, June 1, 2003, Ravi Shenoy, review of Venetian Stories, p. 171; November 1, 2005, Ravi Shenoy, review of Across the Bridge of Sighs, p. 71.
Publishers Weekly, May 5, 2003, review of Venetian Stories, p. 198; September 12, 2005, review of Across the Bridge of Sighs, p. 40.
Town & Country, November, 2005, review of Across the Bridge of Sighs, p. 214.
Pantheon Books Web site, http://www.randomhouse.com/pantheon/ (March 28, 2006), brief biography of author.
Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/ (March 28, 2006), Charles Taylor, review of Venetian Stories.