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Her mother Miriam died in a car accident as a teenager when she was seven months pregnant with Jesse, who was by some kind of miracle born and found at the side of the road only minutes after the car crash. She remained in the hospital for two weeks, nameless, until Maharet came and gave her a name. Jesse was the last survivor of the Reeve family of South Carolina, and was brought up by her cousins Maria and Matthew Godwin in New York City. It was Maharet who provided for Jesse, and made sure that she could go to any college she wanted. She even arranged it so Jesse got to meet other members of the Great Family who were spread all over the world.
Maharet, whom Jesse first knew as her aunt, kept in touch with Jesse through letters and Jesse considered her a good friend. As Jesse grew up, she discovered that she could read minds and see ghosts and spirits and she confided this to her aunt. Maharet explained to her that seers of spirits were common with women in the Great Family, and that it was a gift that seemed to come with the attributes of green eyes, pale skin and red hair. She urged Jesse to write her whenever she would be frightened by it.
The first time Jesse met Maharet was in her third year at Columbia. Two years later she spent parts of her summer with Maharet and Mael, her good friend, in her house in the Sonoma Mountains, California. During the summer she discovered the history of the Great Family, and spent some of her time looking at old portraits, photographs and reading the history that had been written down. She realized that the Great Family was very old, texts were written in ancient Latin, Ancient Greek and in Egyptian hieroglyphs.
After some strange events that she could remember only fragments of, including those where Mael began to fall in love with Jesse (against Maharet's wishes), Maharet and Mael left the compound. Maharet left Jesse a letter telling her how sorry she was that they left so suddenly, that she was afraid they would keep her from doing things she set out to do, and that she had arranged for Jesse to be driven to the airport later that day.
Later Jesse moved to London and worked at the British Museum. During that time she was approached by Aaron Lightner. He showed her a file the Talamasca had on her. Apparently they knew of her ability to see spirits and wanted her to be part of the order. Jesse thought of the Talamasca as a new "Great Family" and found the Talamascan records to be a substitute for the treasures she had lost that summer at the Sonoma house. Maharet wasn't thrilled to hear that Jesse had joined the Talamasca order, but after Jesse said she would not tell them about the Great Family or the strange things that happened in the Sonoma compound, Maharet couldn't refuse Jesse to join the order if it made her happy.
At first Jesse worked in the archives translating Latin texts. Later she worked in the field and was sent to haunted houses all over Europe and the United States. Then she met with David Talbot, the head of the order, who told her that vampires were real, and he sent her to New Orleans. There she was to investigate and document events from the book Interview with the Vampire that took place. During the time in New Orleans she broke the strict rules of the Talamasca in cases concerning vampires, which led to her encounter with the spirit of Claudia, the vampire child of Lestat and Louis. This concluded in Jesse being sick for weeks, and her being taken off the case.
She later visited Matthew and Maria in New York City, where she discovered Lestat's book The Vampire Lestat, his album and decided to go to his concert in San Francisco. She traveled from New York to California and stayed for a while in the Sonoma compound where she remembered more of what happened that summer long ago.
At the concert in San Francisco Jesse managed to get up on stage, where she threw herself at Lestat. By doing this she got her suspicions confirmed: Mael and Maharet were vampires, just like she knew Lestat was. After being dragged off stage she was found sitting in a doorway by a vampire who identified her as part of the Talamasca. It threw her across the room, breaking her neck. Mael, who was at the concert to protect Jesse, took her from the hospital and gave her as much of his blood as he could to keep her alive. Jesse didn't want to die and asked Mael to make her a vampire, and just before he could, Maharet came into the room and did it instead.
In regards to Jesse as a vampire, she is far more powerful than others of her age. This is due to the potent blood of Maharet which she received, much like David Talbot receiving the blood of Lestat.
Vampire family tree
Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles tree
Jesse became a vampire, only out of desperation, by her aunt Maharet. This concluded with the duties of her and her family for all eternity.
In the novel and the 2002 film
Though thirty-five years old during the events of the novel, and a senior member of the Talamasca, the film portrays Jesse as much younger, and still a Talamasca apprentice. In the novel she has various psychic abilities including the ability to sense and communicate with spirits. But in the film, she does not appear to possess any psychic abilities.
In the novel, Jesse meets Lestat at his San Francisco concert for the first time, leaps into his arms, and is then pulled back from him by the concert-goers. She is fatally injured by a vampire after leaving the concert hall leading to her transformation into a vampire by Mael and Maharet.
However, in the film she becomes enamoured with Lestat (and vice versa) in an alleyway outside a nightclub called the "Admiral's Arms" after he saves her from a trio of vampires. She then makes a trip to his apartment and gives him back his journal before sharing her dream with him and he takes her on a journey in order to give her an idea of what his world is like dealing with the harsh and savageness along with the romance and the beauty. During their time together the two become very close. Later at the concert she tries to warn Lestat of the attacks by the vampires in the crowd by calling out his name, however it doesn't work. She is later killed by a bewitched Lestat after Queen Akasha orders him to kill her. Enraged at what she made him do to Jesse, Lestat seeks revenge upon the vampire Queen. Moments after Akasha's death, Lestat lovingly takes Jesse into his arms and makes her a vampire (thus granting her wish to see what being a vampire was like). Later Jesse and Lestat visit David to return Lestat's journal. She is then seen walking away into the chaos of the city while holding hands with Lestat. Thus implying that they are now a couple.