From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus comes a novel about a struggling writer who gets his big break, with a little help from the most famous woman in America.
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.
Rowley follows his debut, Lily and the Octopus, with a poignant tale of a new author's breakout hit in the early 1990s under the guidance of one of publishing's most high-profile editors, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The story opens with a slick snippet of writer James Smale's first novel, The Quarantine, and how his fictionalized account of his fiercely devoted mother and the heart-wrenching choices she made to protect him from a stern and distant father catches the eye of Jackie. "The hardest thing to dramatize, without being clich , is the love a mother has for her children," Jackie tells James. Working together in New York where the former first lady pulls out a bottle of rum from her desk to mix daiquiris and at her home in Martha's Vineyard, Jackie encourages James to remove his self-imposed "shackles" that protect his mother rather than tell her story. But during a disastrous family Thanksgiving gathering, James, who believes his homosexuality is was what drove his parents apart, discovers the dark secret his mother has kept from him. Rowley deliberately mines the sentiment of the mother/son bond, but skillfully saves it from sentimentality; this is a winning dissection of family, forgiveness, and fame.
My new favorite writer!
Felt like I was there, on an amazing journey!
In fact, all the stars in the sky. What an amazing achievement of a book.
This was a fantastic book. It felt like a real story, like the relationship truly happened to the author. This is the second book I’ve read by Stephen Rowley (“Lily and the Octopus” was the first, and I adored it); he writes so descriptively that I often find myself repeating some of his words and phrases, or trying some of the facial expressions he describes. Worth reading a second time.