The Editor

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Member Reviews

A struggling writer, one lucky break and one VERY famous Editor. An engaging read - the relationship between struggling writer, James, and the Editor, Jackie ('Mrs Onassis to you'), is intense, their friendship an unlikely one. Well written with some excellent characterisation (particularly the Editor herself) and an addictive storyline which starts with a completely intriguing premise. Enjoyable.
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Such an enchanting and beautifully written book.  

I never knew that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis worked as an editor.  It seems as if this book is about James who is surprised to be called to a meeting with J O who loves his debut and becomes his editor. However I think it is essentially about his relationship with his mother, which will make you squirm, laugh and cry.

"Because there is only here and now"
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This wasn’t the usual type of book I’d normally choose but it was very well written and extremely funny in parts I liked it .
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I adored this book.  It is charming, surprising, funny, poignant and above all a wonderful story packed with believable characters.  Jackie O as the editor in question brings an extra dimension that really works.  I love books that blend fact with fiction and this does it seamlessly with true respect and love for Mrs Onassis shining out. It would make a wonderful screenplay with some great visual moments that cannot be described for fear of spoiling the plot.  Read this and enjoy.
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James is a struggling writer with a complex family relationship.  His first book is picked up by a major publishing house and his editor is Jacqueline Onassis. The book is a beautiful journey of discovery, although perhaps ironically the ending made me feel there was something missing.
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This was a slow burner read for me, and it did take me a while to find my pace with the story. I did love the premise though and how the author took the famous First Lady Jackie Onassis and focused more on her life after office and into the world publishing.

James Smale couldn’t believe it when he finally sells his novel to a major publishing house and he was even dumbstruck when he discovers his editor is none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis! The book take place in the 1990’s and the author did a great job of throwing you back to that period – I was a teenager in ’94 and it was definitely reminiscent to what I remember.

I did struggle with some parts of the book being slow, if I am honest skimmed a lot of James inner long winded dialogue as it was just not interesting for me and didn’t hold my attention, that being said I read on and I only wish that Mrs Onassis was a stronger feature in this book. Sometimes I felt that her part could have been anyone.

This book didn’t live up to my expectation, but despite the pace and long winded parts I did find this to be a good read.

3.5/4 stars
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It is a well written book. I liked the story but it did not engage me o the level I like a book to engage me.  the story deals with some life dilemmas, which are in everyones life. Also on the positive side, it does have amazing humor.
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This is a fiction title about an author writing a semi-autobiographical novel about his relationship with his mother, all while navigating a tricky relationship with his actual mother. After his book is accepted by a publishing house, he meets his new editor: The one and only Mrs Jackie Onassis (the wife of US President Kennedy, for those like me who didn't know...).

Rowley has written this book so well that it's really easy to forget that this is a work of fiction, sometimes. The main character's voice draws you in and shares his angst - objectively, he's a bit selfish and overly dramatic about things, but you still like him and want things to work out for him.

This is an exploration of a relationship between a gay man and his mother (the fact that he's gay is relevant but not the focus of the novel), as well as his relationships with the other people in his life. I can't lie, I did get a bit weepy near the end!

It's the author's writing style and imagination that makes this book so beautiful a read, it's a tribute to authors, editors and book lovers.
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Slightly unusual story line but I couldn’t really get into it. It seemed rather disjointed in places.
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What a delightful book. Not my normal genre but I am always willing to read something new. A book about mending relationships between a mother and son.  A young author writes a book about his mother. It is accepted for publication and his editor is none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. They strike up a relationship where the editor encourages the author to dig deeper. This he does and by doing so gains a greater understanding of his mother and father and why their life took a certain route. The story also made me want to investigate the life of Jackie Kennedy Onassis further.
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After years of trying to become a writer James Smale is finally getting his book published.  A semi-autobiographical novel about his relationship with his mother, James is both pleased and nervous at the reception he will get.  When he visits his publisher, Doubleday, James is shocked to discover that his editor is to be Jackie Onassis.  As James edits his book his reflects on his life and Jackie provides support in an unusual way.
Although this book purports to be about Jackie O, that's really not the case.  Jackie merely acts as a focus for what is a reflective novel about a young gay man facing up to reality in 1990s New York and answering a lot of questions from his childhood.  Therefore is it more a coming of age novel but with a twist.  Jackie provides a leitmotif for James and as a plot tool it works incredibly well.  This is an intense and yet almost slight book.
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Not my usual genre. And this is why I must branch out more and read a more ‘varied diet’. 
Poignant, compelling and ultimately a well written and frankly beautiful book.
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A really lovely read. It manages to be poignant, funny and subtle all at once. Whilst Jackie O is obviously the drawcard, I loved the way she’s written almost as a supporting role. The book manages to be both about her and not about her at all. It’s a really touching story and one I think that’s told in an intelligent way, it never felt gossipy or trite. I’d definitely recommend it.
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Desperate to get his debut novel published, James Smale is thrilled to get a call to a publishing house which shows an interest.  He is absolutely stunned to discover that his editor is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.  With the whole issue complicated by the fact that the novel is based on his own mother, much to her horror, James tries to  navigate his way through the journey to publication.  Family secrets come tumbling out and his own relationship becomes at risk.  A really sparkling and entertaining read, with much to say about the nature of literature, entitlement and family.  Highly recommended.
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I loved The Editor. Lead character James Smale was likeable, real, and very human, and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next in his story.  I loved his mother, who also felt very real. The tone was light and the book was both funny and insightful.  And sad - there were tears. 

Set in the publishing world, it featured a famously private, real person in a fictional role, working with James Smale to complete his novel. We are given tantalising glimpses of her personality, as James slowly comes to know her and she shares a little of her real self with him. 

The Editor is about relationships, how they evolve and shape us.  A very satisfying read.
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What an excellent read this is. Something a little different in that it incorporates a real person, Jacqueline Onassis, into a novel of fiction. 
The story centres around a young man, desperately trying to write and have his first novel published. Mrs Onassis becomes his Editor and in some ways, his link back to his own mother. 
His difficult childhood is the root of problems for him. He struggles to find direction in his life, with his identity and with his relationships. I felt this was described in the story so well. I could feel his pain at wanting a stable life and wishing he better understood the life hed lived as a child. I could feel how he wanted to be close to his mother but events in his history and an inability to face them, prevented him from having peace of mind. 
It was beautifully written and the reader can imagine how this gracious lady, acting as his Editor, was able to help him reevaluate his life and what was important to him. Guiding him always to take the next steps. 
The story has a sad yet poignantly beautiful ending. 
I felt like I’d been privileged to read it.
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What a clever and gorgeously written story!

This story moves at a perfectly judged, gentle pace.  The concept is so clever and the execution perfect.  

Author James Smale has at last had a novel accepted, a thinly veiled autobiographical story of the dysfunctional relationship between a mother and son.  When he meets his editor, the ever-elegant and insanely famous Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis, his cup floweth over.

As the story progresses, we see James begin to see just why his relationship with his mother is what it is, how his misconceptions and youthful memories have deceived him, and how his work with Jackie is helping heal a rift that has shaped his adult life.

It's one of those stories where not a lot happens, and none of that very fast, but you just want to keep on reading.
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I found this slightly slow at first but I enjoyed it and wanted to see how James’s relationship with his mother worked out
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‘The truth of the matter is, it’s all too much. Clinton, Kennedy, nostalgia, melancholy. Things that are not coming back. Things that perhaps never were. I feel a deep need to believe there was another time, before, when everything seemed right.’

The early 1990s, and a novelist, James Francis Smale (his middle name becomes important as we go!), gets his first book picked up by a major US publisher, and is assigned an editor – none other than Jackie Kennedy Onassis. This is the set-up of Steven Rowley’s novel, which becomes a sort of meta-fiction on the art of writing autobiographical fiction. James has family issues, in particular with his mother, and so has written his novel as a way of coming to terms with her, the family and how their relationship has become strained. It is also, in part, a portrait – in Jackie Onassis – of an icon, a woman who has been through so much and is held in such regard, but who is also just a rather lonely, vulnerable human being. There is a tenderness to the portrayal of her character, and she becomes a second ‘mother’ to the central character, helping him rewrite not only his novel but his relationship with his real mother.

I did enjoy the book immensely, and Rowley is a terrific writer.  The blend of fact and fiction is well done, and setting the book in the last couple of years of Jackie Onassis’ life also, conveniently, places it at the time of the Clinton presidential campaign. There is a feeling in the air of hope, of starting again, which of course echoes the time thirty years earlier when JFK ran for office. James Smale is trying to heal his own life by writing his novel, a kind of therapy if you will. He has a settled life of his own, his long-time partner Daniel is a stable and loving support, but in the course of the book family secrets come to life that shake him to the core. And whilst I did admire the book, this is where it loses the one star for me; the two big set-pieces of the novel – a Thanksgiving dinner and the book launch party – were perhaps just a little too melodramatic, a little too ‘here’s a big moment coming’. And whilst James Smale rewrites the ending to his book to make it a less ‘tidy conclusion’, the actual novel we have seems, well, all tidy at the end. Relationships appear to be mended, mistakes forgiven.  

All in all, a really worthwhile read; there is great empathy for the characters, the hope of dreams is captured well, and the journey is an emotional one. I’m not afraid to say I cried at times, and laughed too. After his first novel ‘Lily and the Octopus’ Steven Rowley is fast-becoming an established author and I fully recommend this one.

(With thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this title.)
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The Editor is intense… well, the main character, the author James Smale is intense!

It’s almost like he is having to learn how to be human.  How to talk to people, how to have relationships with people.  Every nuance, every expression, every silence is analysed and agonised over in minute detail; pulled apart more thoroughly than his editor might his text.  Relationships are a closed book to James and he pours all the love, anger and sadness he feels for his loved ones into his manuscript.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (JO) is treated very respectfully in the story, as an editor and as a woman.  Whilst her role is important to the story, it is also a side-part:  she is not just Smale’s editor but his psychotherapist and mentor.  The best comparison I can think of is the ‘God’ role that Morgan Freeman often seems to play in films!  JO appears to dispense wisdom, insight and cryptic commentary, then vanishes again and we know not what existence she has outside of the author’s encounters.

This is a deeply intimate insight into one man’s battle to find his place in the world, in his relationships, in his own skin.  The other characters (his mum, JO, Daniel) begin as just that – characters in the theatre of his own internal monologue – and as he develops through the course of the narrative he slowly and painfully attempts to separate and individualise them as people outside of his scope of control, that he can communicate with verbally and physically instead of just mentally (and his father is the most painful example of this particular habit).

I really enjoyed the insight into the writing and editing process, and wanted more of James’ relationship with Daniel and his siblings as these felt warmer, lighter and more natural than his anguish over his parental figures (including Mrs Onassis).  Whilst the book was well-written I found myself frustrated with the level of emotional drama and angst Smale brought to every minute – it exhausted me and made his character seem almost juvenile; I almost expected him to slam doors and scream ‘I hate you!  You ruined my life!’ every time his mother failed to react the way he hoped she would.

The Editor is an interesting, emotionally-draining read with a great concept and an intensely self-focused protagonist.  Fans of literary historical fiction with a tight focus on family dysfunction will enjoy this book.



   I scramble to my feet, knocking a knee against the table with a deafening whack.  And even though I want to scream out in pain, to sink back into the chair and massage my leg, when she turns around and I meet her gaze, I stop.  And then, strangely, I begin to bow.
Because… because… I don’t know the protocol.

– Steven Rowley, The Editor

Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog
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