Jane Green worked for many years as a journalist, with occasional forays into public relations for film, television, and the odd celebrity. The author of three other novels, Straight Talking, Mr. Maybe (Broadway Books, 2001), and Bookends (Broadway Books, 2002), she lives outside of New York City with her husband and son.
Green's superficial novel tells readers that although beauty isn't everything (the right man will love you for who you are, not your looks), a sensible diet and regular exercise can turn any fat and ugly duckling into a slim, tanned, well-dressed, and exceedingly attractive swan. Jemima Jones, 100 pounds overweight and possessing a definite inferiority complex about her appearance, has a desperate crush on Ben, the devastatingly handsome deputy news editor of the small London paper where they both work. After taking an Internet class, Jemima strikes up an e-mail relationship with Brad, a health club owner in Southern California, giving her the impetus to go on a successful diet and exercise regimen. Many pounds lighter, she visits Brad in Santa Monica, where she discovers that he is too gorgeous for words, that sex with him is better than her fantasies, but that he is really in love with Jenny, his immensely overweight secretary. Meanwhile, Ben, now a famous television star, comes to Santa Monica on work and, once he sets eyes on Jemima, realizes that he loves her, always did, and always will. Is this ridiculous, or what? In Green's hands, the "overweight Bridget Jones" subgenre of British fiction does not look promising. Not recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/00.]--Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Yet another take on the singles scene, and from yet another British writer, this jaunty novel has one slightly new focus--the Internet as a dating device. "Bored, fat and unhappy" Jemima Jones is a hack writer on a small London paper, whose weight precludes both promotion (which she richly deserves, because she's smart) and getting together with the man of her dreams: kind, modest and gorgeous reporter Ben Williams. The Web opens a new world to Jemima, and when she begins an online correspondence with L.A. gym owner Brad, identifying herself as JJ, her friend Geraldine encourages her to send Brad a doctored photo of what she would look like if she were thin. Jemima joins a gym, goes on a diet and even becomes a blonde, preparing to accept Brad's invitation to come to L.A. Lucky JJ: Brad turns out to be a hunk, and the sex is great... but JJ senses that something is wrong. Meanwhile, Ben has become a celebrity "presenter" on British TV, but while the whole country goes gaga over his looks, he too feels that something is missing. By the time several coincidences produce a dreams-come-true ending, readers are fond of plucky Jemima, but somewhat tired out by her adventures. Green's determination to provide texture results in too many scenes that brim with London and L.A. local color, but fail to add verve to the narrative. Outside of Geraldine, who, surprisingly, is both beautiful and a true friend, the other characters tend to be stereotypes: Jemima's roommates, airheads on the make; the predatory female TV producer; the editor who offers Jemima a promotion once she is blonde and svelte. Though the concept is clever and nicely handled, the broad humor lacks true comic brio. (As the online initiated would say: it's not LOL.) Green does, however, capture the nuances and neuroses of the singles scene with a gimlet eye and an uninhibited voice. A bestseller in England, the book should also hook female readers here as they relate to Green's frank comments about body size and social acceptability. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"Cleverly probes the world of a very smart, very funny, very fat
reporter . . .Americans will enjoy this confection and appreciate
how Green renders a certain humor-impaired California earnestness
about health, happiness, and love."
"A brilliantly funny novel about something close to every woman's heart -her stomach." -Woman's Own
"The kind of novel you'll gobble up at a single sitting."