Book Review - The Editor by Steven Rowley
I usually wait a day or two after finishing a book to write my review. I find that a little distance gives me perspective on the book as a whole. With The Editor, however, I didn’t want to lose the feeling that this book gave me. So I’m writing this mere seconds after reading the last page. I first heard about this book from the author’s publicist, one that I work with often and trust wholeheartedly to send books I love. So I briefly skimmed the plot, saw Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and quickly accepted. I heard a lot of murmuring about this book among my friends in the book industry but since it was already on my shelf I didn’t listen to much of it.
In interviews I do with authors, I ask them (among other things) which book character they think they’d be best friends with. I never really gave much thought to how I would answer the questions I ask, but after reading a few chapters of The Editor by Steven Rowley, I thought to myself, I think I’d be best friends with James Smale. Which is an odd thought, considering Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is another character in the book…why wasn’t I wanting to be best friends with her? How could this relatively unknown character eclipse a legend like Jackie? It is a testament to Steven Rowley’s writing, I think. He made James so darn likable, witty, and flawed…he was endearing.
The story is about James Smale, a struggling writer who gets his first big break. An editor is interested in his book and he’s about to meet her. Imagine his surprise when “the editor” that wants to publish his book is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. This is 1992, well after her tenure at the White House, she is already a legend. Yet, she is meeting an unknown writer in a conference room discussing the publication of his book. The way Steven Rowley describes this encounter made me adore James Smale as a character but it also humanized Mrs. Onassis (as James calls her).
I adored this book. If I’m being completely honest, there was a short moment in the middle where I didn’t adore it as much as I adored the beginning and the end, but I adored it nonetheless. ADORED IT. I am so excited that I get to hear Steven Rowley speak at the upcoming Unbound Book Festival AND he’s joining us for our virtual book club in May. I have so much to chat with him about! Starting with what it was like to meet Angela Kinsey.