The Initiation of Janine relates the circumstances under which Janine Hewlett and Charlie Richardson meet, become acquainted, and agree to begin dating. The story, a first-person narration by the character of Janine, is notable for its candour and charm, but also for detailed descriptions of heavy-petting sessions.
In January 2001, third-former Sally Henderson introduces her fifth-form cousin Charlie Richardson to her second-form friend Janine Hewlett, imagining that the two are already attracted to each other. One afternoon at her house the three play Twister, with Charlie spinning and calling their turns and the girls, both in short skirts, endeavouring to reach the assigned spots. Charlie suggests that Janine should wear more appealing underpants next time as he has been watching her the whole time. Janine returns to Sally’s house another afternoon and, in order to reprise the game of Twister, strips to her underwear (as many do during hot season in Paradise). After winning the game again, Janine joins Sally in undressing and toying with Charlie till he ejaculates.
At Charlie’s prodding, Sally and Janine meet him at Surfside beach where the two girls have been sunning topless. He provides only courteous comments to her, not embarrassing her as she has feared, and leaves her feeling more confident and more worthy of boys’ respect.
There follow several weeks over which the two girls and Charlie meet at the Henderson house several times for sexual experimentation, none of it reaching intercourse. Janine is reluctant to let down her knickers as she has not yet (age age 12-1/2) grown maidenhair, which embarrasses her but which Charlie finds cute. She is relieved one afternoon when Charlie does not turn up; but Sally uses the opportunity to masturbate before her in an attempt to interest Janine in sexual pleasure. On a Saturday evening visit, Sally and Janine are watching a film on video when Charlie arrives; but Sally takes the opportunity to make out with him herself, to incite Janine to jealousy; but Janine storms out without dressing. Charlie finds her in the garden and apologises to her, but she only kisses him and pleads with him to take her seriously before running out, causing Sally to illegally drive Charlie’s car in search of her.
Sally faces Janine in school and invites her to take part in a surprise for Charlie’s 16th-birthday party, held at a local yacht club. She and Charlie’s sister, Emily, instruct Janine in how to crouch under a table before popping up through the cake as a surprise. Though reluctant at first, Janine comes to recognise this as a means to differentiate herself from all of Charlie’s former girlfriends as well as to secure him, through sheer audacity, for herself. The girl-in-the-cake surprise is a total success; and after some romantic dancing whilst Janine, in only knickers and shoes, is still covered in cake and icing, the two agree to consider themselves boyfriend-and-girlfriend. Charlie drives Janine home at just a few minutes past her assigned curfew.
Janine is intelligent, well-read, studious and apparently very pretty. She admits in the narration, and several other characters concur, that she is more than amply-endowed in the bust, which draws undue attention to her appearance. She also considers herself intellectually more mature than most people her age, mentioning that she has been out of the territory three times on cultural trips with her mother. Otherwise she is essentially a normal girl living in the given time and place within Paradisian society. She plays piano and sings in the school choir. She has very dark hair, ‘almost black really’, the only one in her family not fair-haired. A devout Christian, she attends church habitually and frequently includes the text of her private prayers (in italics) in the narration.
Sally Henderson is outgoing, even tactless in social situations but apparently honest, loyal to her friends and generous by nature. She is depicted as fair-haired, slender, ‘more normal-looking’ especially in a bikini, and pleasant to look at, especially for boys. She and her cousin Charlie have kissed and touched each other in the past; at one place in the story Janine discovers her straddling him in the sofa looking very close to engaging in intercourse. She refers to herself and Charlie as ‘kissing cousins’, but only because they snog playfully; they are first cousins and so 25% consanguine. Late in the story she confesses that she wants Janine and Charlie to date because they are both her favourite people that she hopes will be happy together.
Charlie Richardson, who turns 16 at the end of January, is said to be a ‘flirt’ who has had numerous former girlfriends. Janine notes that Stacy Schaffer is the only one she knows by name; but her friend Jill Manning’s sister Alicia dated Charlie around the time of the December 2000 holiday dance. Charlie is well-shaped, having played football, and has a Roman nose and shaggy blond hair that falls into his eyes. He is described by Janine as having ‘classic English good looks’. At the start of the story he tends to treat Janine as a good-looking little body, perhaps attracted most to her because of her figure, and, presuming that she is not very clever, seeks every opportunity to fondle her. As he gains a greater appreciation for her innate virtue, he improves in his respect for her, and by the end of the story, despite some remaining awkwardness, he is committed to becoming the sort of boyfriend a girl like her should deserve and can admire.
Other characters appearing, briefly, in The Initiation of Janine include Emily Richardson, Albert Kane, and (Mr) John Hewlett. Funnily , Janine's usual society of the 'Devon Girls' with whom she is usually inseparable, do not appear.
The first-person point of view is not common to Two Paradises story arcs and is used well here. The narrator provides good descriptions of many Paradise locations, especially the Surfside Strand, the Henderson house on Long Shore Road, and Devon Yacht Club. Slang terms unique to Paradise are given amply in dialogue but never in the narration itself, which is kept to standard usage throughout (few contractions, few fragments, internal thoughts given in italics).
Though some scenes involving sexual contact are described in detail, making the story less than appropriate for early-teenaged readers, for the most part the depiction of risque elements rises only to the level of fan service. As narrator Janine does not describe the outward appearance of her body, only her inner feelings at getting noticed for it. Others’ impressions of her, especially when she is petting with Charlie and when she is covered in cake at the party, might be worthy of a Paradise One classification.
The scene in which Janine learns how to hide beneath the cake and to burst out of it is instructive, a rare glimpse behind the scenes of this popular trope.
A certain Cinderella trope exists in scene in which Janine storms out of the Hendersons' basement in only the knickers and shoes she has been wearing to watch the video. After fleeing Charlie she attempts to start away home as she is; it is Sally who arrives, in Charlie's car, and lends her one of his shirts for the ride home. Some readers have contended that Charlie ought to have driven out himself, bringing her clothes, following her all the way home if needs be; but if that had happened the story could have ended without the cake surprise.
The story also contains examples of the eager ingenue trope.
The Initiation of Janine is the initial instalment of the Janine of Paradise series, beginning just after the turn of 2001 when Janine is midway through her second form at North Eden High School. The events of the series are no more than tangential to those of other arcs.
The episode was first published as an e-text in 2008, being the start of an all-new story arc that did not exist in any form before about 2006. It is also available as a stand-alone paperback edition and as a part of the Janine of Paradisedeluxe compilation, also in paperback.