Book Title and Author: The Editor by Steven Rowley
Publication Date and Publisher: April 2, 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary, Historical Fiction
Pages: 320 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: March 8, 2019 (e-arc)
After years of trying to make it as a writer in 1990s New York City, James Smale finally sells his novel to an editor at a major publishing house: none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie–or Mrs. Onassis, as she’s known in the office–has fallen in love with James’s candidly autobiographical novel, one that exposes his own dysfunctional family. But when the book’s forthcoming publication threatens to unravel already fragile relationships, both within his family and with his partner, James finds that he can’t bring himself to finish the manuscript.
Jackie and James develop an unexpected friendship, and she pushes him to write an authentic ending, encouraging him to head home to confront the truth about his relationship with his mother. Then a long-held family secret is revealed, and he realizes his editor may have had a larger plan that goes beyond the page…
From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus comes a funny, poignant, and highly original novel about an author whose relationship with his very famous book editor will change him forever–both as a writer and a son.
Lily and the Octopus is a book that I absolutely love, so I knew I would read anything Steven Rowley wrote next but when I read the synopsis for The Editor and realized the editor in this book was Jackie Kennedy, it absolutely made it to the top of my must-read list of spring books.
James Smale is a young, unpublished novelist who is sent by his agent to Doubleday Books to discuss his semi-autobiographical novel with the person who wants to become his editor. No one warns him that the editor just happens to be Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the former first lady!
The two quickly develop a very unexpected friendship, along with their writer-editor relationship that is a delight and heartwarming! Jackie Kennedy’s intelligence, grace, charm, sophistication, as well as her known shyness and demureness are captured perfectly by Rowley with great sensitivity and subtlety and although she’s not the main character of the book, she’s such an essential and marvelous part of the story–her wit, wisdom, and gentle (sometimes not so gentle) pushes along the way are certainly the guiding hands for James’ character growth in the novel! Just like James, you can’t help but be completely enamored by her character!
Yet, this is James’ story no matter how many scenes Jackie may appear. James can’t write an ending to his novel that meets with his editor’s approval! His publication date is looming fast and at his editor’s insistence, his novel needs a completely different ending, but he can’t write one until he repairs his relationship with his mother with whom he’s at odds because she never wanted to be the basis of the “mother” character in his novel.
The novel is also a coming of age story as James finally discovers who he really is and uncovers some long buried, hard to handle family secrets. More than anything, the story is about the powerful, complex, and all-encompassing love between a mother and son and the journey in discovering what that means for both of them.
The characters are so believable that I almost thought they would step off the page, so I can’t wait to see the movie adaption of the book of which Rowley is both writing the screenplay and acting as the executive producer! The inclusion of Jackie Kennedy as a literary character just makes it the perfect read, at least for me since she’s on my list of famous women whom I most admire, and I’d loved to have met her, just like James.
Rowley has written another emotional, thought-provoking beautiful book full of humor and wit that I believe is markedly his own. The Editor is a delightful, heartwarming, at times very heartbreaking, original novel that will remain a favorite. I highly recommend this one!
**Thank you Edelweiss and G.P. Putnam’s Sons for the ARC to read in exchange for my fair and honest review.**