Two girls grow up in the same rural college town where class and family expectations guide them onto predictable paths: marriage for one and college for the other. However, Wanda and Callie defy the expectations and make other choices, ones with serious consequences. What does it cost a young woman to determine her path in life?
Praise for Town and Gown
“Jan English Leary’s latest novel sweeps the reader into the lives of two women from the same small town as they launch into adulthood. Wanda, a farm girl, marries her high school boyfriend, works at the local bakery, and hopes to someday start a family. Callie, the daughter of a college professor, dreams of bigger adventures far from her overprotective parents and the college town mentality. With writing deeply-rooted in place and character, Leary masterfully immerses us in the lives of these two women as they set out on separate journeys, only to discover the many ways their paths intersect. Town and Gown is a moving portrayal of resiliency and second chances, reminding us that while we can't always choose our circumstances, there's power to be found in how we respond.”
— Marcie Roman, author of Journey to the Parallels
“I admire the no-frills, and no-waste, prose Jan English Leary deploys in her novel Town and Gown to narrate the lives of two women growing up–one from the farm and one from the hill–in a college village in the northeast. Despite dread events and bleak prospects that might give Greek drama a run for its money, there is a kind of admirable resilience here, too. Lacking a scintilla of nostalgia, this fast paced and gripping novel does not pine for lost glory days, but instead offers a bracing account of today’s small-town America with a subtle but potent feminist slant.”
— Charles Lamar Phillips, author of Estranged and Dead South
“This lively, entertaining novel features both deeply felt characters and an engaging plot. It immerses us in the struggles of two young women—one a farmer's daughter, the other a professor's child—as they seek to establish themselves in the world. Through their stories, we see how simple categories, such as the divide between the intellectual and the agrarian, can be limiting, and we come to question easy binaries concerning social status and destiny. The novel also explores the assumptions we make about each other and the kinds of compromises–some big, some small–we all must learn to live with as the inevitable result of creating a life. Town and Gown is an empathetic and insightful page turner of a novel, one that I won't soon forget.”
—Beth Castrodale, author of In This Ground and I Mean You No Harm
About the Author
Jan English Leary retired after a long career as a teacher to write full-time. She is the author of a novel, Thicker Than Blood, and a short-story collection, Skating on the Vertical, both published by Fomite. She and her husband, a teacher-turned-artist, live in Chicago. Having emerged from their COVID cocoon, they have started traveling again. Their travels often inform her fiction.