I am certainly not having any trouble with reading right now. I’ve read some absolutely amazing (and some that were just meh) books since March, mostly thanks to this group and to the good folks over at One More Page Books. They deliver!
But writing has been a challenge. After a full day of editorial work, I just don’t want to sit down with my laptop and write. Even when I’ve read the most amazing book and want the whole world to know about it. I just can’t.
As I find myself with 45 minutes and a fully-charged laptop this afternoon, let’s see how it goes.
This one was my favorite that I’ve read since we’ve been home.
I literally knew nothing about this book when I put it into my shopping cart. I liked the title and the cover and that was good enough for me.
What if you were struggling writer and had just sold your first novel, only to find out that your new editor was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis? That’s exactly what happens to James, our 30-something writer, when he sells his sort-of-autobiographical family novel.
Not knowing what to expect when they first meet, James finds her to be a lovely, charming, intelligent, and amusing woman. He cannot believe that one of the most famous women in the world likes his writing and his book and wants to help him make it better, how to make him better.
She always has an obscure quote from literature or history that relates to whatever James is working on. She often serves daiquiris right in the office. She invites him to her massive Martha’s Vineary compound in order to get his writing in order. Mrs. Onassis helps James not only with his writing, but with his family, and with all other aspects of his life in early 1990s Manhattan.
They aren’t really friends, but they mean something to each other, and that’s enough for James.
The rest of James’ life isn’t going nearly as well as his relationship with his editor. The subject matter of his “novel” has kept him estranged from his mother, who is unwilling to discuss James’ childhood and the secrets he thinks she is keeping from him. He and his boyfriend seem to be going through the motions. His limited interactions with his aging and always absent father force him to try and face the missing puzzle pieces of his past.
I’ll admit: I cried when Mrs. Onassis died. I grew up in a Kennedy loving household (my dad worked on JFK’s campaign, then became friendly with Ted when he did political consulting in Boston in the 80s and 90s), and I don’t even remember crying in real life when Jackie O died. But here, on the page, the scene was so beautifully written, I couldn’t help myself. When James and Daniel stood outside the church, listening to the service and crying with a stranger, it broke me.
Bonus points for Steven Rowley being lovely to us on Instagram. 4.5 stars.