Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Jane Hamilton  

Pen Name: None

Genre:

Born: 1957 in Oak Park, Illinois

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Hamilton was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Hamilton spent has spent most of her life in the Midwest. After Hamilton graduated from college in Minnesota, she stopped off on her way to New York for a job in publishing to visit a friend who was working on a farm for the summer. They needed help for picking season so she stayed a month and ended up falling in love her friend's cousin. They married and she now lives on an apple orchard in Rochester, Wisconsin.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

The Book of Ruth
ISBN: 061302527X

Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval. 1989

The black sheep of her troubled family, Ruth struggles to keep the peace between her mother, her young son, and her slightly off-the-wall husband and to put the pieces back together when a heated situation boils over

A Map of the World: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)
ISBN: 0385720106

Anchor. 1999

From the author of the widely acclaimed The Book of Ruth comes a harrowing, heartbreaking drama about a rural American family and a disastrous event that forever changes their lives.

The Goodwins, Howard, Alice, and their little girls, Emma and Claire, live on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Although suspiciously regarded by their neighbors as "that hippie couple" because of their well-educated, urban background, Howard and Alice believe they have found a source of emotional strength in the farm, he tending the barn while Alice works as a nurse in the local elementary school.

But their peaceful life is shattered one day when a neighbor's two-year-old daughter drowns in the Goodwins' pond while under Alice's care. Tormented by the accident, Alice descends even further into darkness when she is accused of sexually abusing of a student at the elementary school. Soon, Alice is arrested, incarcerated, and as good as convicted in the eyes of a suspicious community. As a child, Alice designed her own map of the world to find her bearings. Now, as an adult, she must find her way again, through a maze of lies, doubt and ill will.

A vivid human drama of guilt and betrayal, A Map of the World chronicles the intricate geographies of the human heart and all its mysterious, uncharted terrain.

The result is a piercing drama about family bonds and a disappearing rural American life.

The Short History of a Prince: A Novel
ISBN: 0385479484

Anchor. 1999

Walter McCloud is a boy with dreams unlike most. Introduced as a child to the genius of Balanchine and the lyricism of Tchaikovsky, Walter has always aspired to be a dancer. As he grows older, it becomes clear that despite his desire, he lacks the talent, and he faces the painful knowledge that his more gifted friends have already surpassed him.

Soon, however, that pain is overshadowed when his older brother, Daniel, finds a strange lump on his neck and Walter realizes that a happy family can change overnight. The year that follows transforms the McClouds, as they try to hold together in the face of the fearful consequences of Daniel's illness, and Walter makes discoveries about himself and his friendships that will change him forever.

Decades later, after Walter has left home and returned, he must come to terms with the memories of that year, and grapple once and for all with the challenge of carving out a place for himself in this all-too-familiar world.

A moving story of the torments of sexuality and the redemptive power of family and friendship, The Short History of a Prince confirms Jane Hamilton's place as a preeminent novelist of our time.

Disobedience
ISBN: 0552998907

Black Swan. 2002

When Madeline Was Young: A Novel
ISBN: 0385516711

Doubleday. 2006

Jane Hamilton, award-winning author of The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World, is back in top form with a richly textured novel about a tragic accident and its effects on two generations of a family.

When Aaron Maciver’s beautiful young wife, Madeline, suffers brain damage in a bike accident, she is left with the intellectual powers of a six-year-old. In the years that follow, Aaron and his second wife care for Madeline with deep tenderness and devotion as they raise two children of their own.

Narrated by Aaron's son, Mac, When Madeline Was Young chronicles the Maciver family through the decades, from Mac’s childhood growing up with Madeline and his cousin Buddy in Wisconsin through the Vietnam War, through Mac’s years as a husband with children of his own, and through Buddy’s involvement with the subsequent Gulf Wars. Jane Hamilton, with her usual humor and keen observations of human relationships, deftly explores the Maciver's unusual situation and examines notions of childhood (through Mac and Buddy’s actual youth as well as Madeline’s infantilization) and a rivalry between Buddy’s and Mac’s families that spans decades and various wars. She captures the pleasures and frustrations of marriage and family, and she exposes the role that past relationships, rivalries, and regrets inevitably play in the lives of adults.

Inspired in part by Elizabeth Spencer’s Light in the Piazza, Hamilton offers an honest and exquisite portrait of how a family tragedy forever shapes and alters the boundaries of love.

Laura Rider's Masterpiece
ISBN: 0446538957

Grand Central Publishing. 2009

Laura and Charlie Rider have been married for twelve years. They share their nursery business in rural Wisconsin, their love for their animals, and their zeal for storytelling. Although Charlie's enthusiasm in the bedroom has worn Laura out, although she no longer sleeps with him, they are happy enough going along in their routine.

Jenna Faroli is the host of a popular radio show, and in Laura's mind is "the single most famous person in the Town of Dover." When Jenna happens to cross Charlie's path one day, and they begin an e-mail correspondence, Laura cannot resist using Charlie to try out her new writing skills. Together, Laura and Charlie craft florid, strangely intimate messages that entice Jenna in an unexpected way. The "project" quickly spins out of control. The lines between Laura's words and Charlie's feelings are blurred and complicated, Jenna is transformed in ways that deeply disturb her, and Laura is transformed in her mind's eye into an artist. The transformations are hilarious and poignant, and for Laura Rider, beyond her wildest expectations.


Awards

-- '''''The Book of Ruth''''' -- *PEN/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award for best first novel

-- *Oprah Book Club Selection

-- *Basis for a 2004 television film of the same title

-- '''''A Map of the World''''' -- *Notable Book of the Year, New York Times

-- *Top ten books of the year, Entertainment Weekly

-- *Top ten books of the year, Publishers Weekly

-- *Top ten books of the year, the Miami Herald

-- *Top ten books of the year, People magazine

-- *Adapted for a film in 1999

-- *Oprah Book Club selection, 1999

-- '''''The Short History of a Prince''''' -- *Best Book, Publishers Weekly, 1998

-- '''Other Awards:''' -- *Notable Wisconsin Author, Wisconsin Library Association, 2000