The Editor

The Editor

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...

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Title:The Editor
Author:Steven Rowley
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The Editor Reviews

  • Toni

    READ: The Editor

    OMG, and I’m not a fan of that phrase, but I’m listening to the audio and it is brilliant! Michael Urie fits as tight as “James Smale’s glove” as his character and narrator.

    Out today! Run to the bookstore, or your computer to order. Read and or listen!

    James Smale has wanted to write books since he first jammed out a neighborhood newsletter on his mother’s old typewriter when he was nine years old. That typewriter was beautiful, even he knew that at his young age, “It was a Swiss

    READ: The Editor

    OMG, and I’m not a fan of that phrase, but I’m listening to the audio and it is brilliant! Michael Urie fits as tight as “James Smale’s glove” as his character and narrator.

    Out today! Run to the bookstore, or your computer to order. Read and or listen!

    James Smale has wanted to write books since he first jammed out a neighborhood newsletter on his mother’s old typewriter when he was nine years old. That typewriter was beautiful, even he knew that at his young age, “It was a Swiss Hermes typewriter, robin’s-egg blue, a thing of beauty to me.” He was talking non-stop, nervously, as he followed a young, well-dressed woman down one hallway after another, mistaking her for his new editor. “You’ll be meeting someone else, I setup the meeting with this editor.” As she leaves the conference room, another woman slips in, I look up and mumble, “It’s, it’s you!” “Jacqueline, yes. I’m the editor who liked your book.” I stare, “you’re Jacqueline Kennedy, ….. Onassis. I can’t believe you read my book!” “I read it twice, actually.”

    As you read this section of the book, you feel exactly as James must feel, as if you’re in a fantasy, a dream-like state. You cannot believe you’re talking to and looking at THE Jackie Kennedy. Let me state here and now, for me she is and will only ever be, Jackie Kennedy. No other names need apply, added or otherwise, regardless of their legality. Time stopped in 1963 for all Americans who were alive and witnessed the Kennedy couple, and don’t even try to bring politics into this conversation. Okay. James is as enamored as you would expect him to be suddenly discovering that ok fine, Mrs. Onassis will be his editor for his first book.

    Steven Rowley is a talented and clever writer, so he this a serious novel about James’ book, his life, and events surrounding both. However, Steven likes to pepper his writing with smart gems of wit tossed here and there as he did with “Lily and The Octopus” and I adore him for this talent.

    “I try to smell myself, to see if there is some trace of Jackie’s perfume, or, better yet, some faint whiff of American decorative arts from her White House restoration, leather or oils or fine upholstery.

    It occurs to me they think I’m crazy, a man in a corner with a stunned expression, smelling himself for any trace of 1962.”

    The journey through this book is both marvelous and heartbreaking. James gets to know Jackie well as a friend and their editor-author relationship develops. Jackie is so intelligent and wise, and James is a willing pupil. He does succeed with his published book but that’s not a spoiler, it’s how he gets there with the healed relationship with his mother, his family and his partner that is the real story.

    Don’t miss one of our time’s most talented author’s second book. Highly recommended.

    Thank you, Edelweiss, G.P. Putnam, and Steven Rowley

    So many hilarious quotes I wanted to add from the smart and witty mind of Steven Rowley.

    Note: It’s not all just Jackie worship, this is a great story in itself. The sidebar just happens to be Jackie O is his editor.

    Btw, my opinion only: Michael Urie, your voice is spot on but Jackie’s voice shouldn’t be lower than your’s. 😬 Her’s was breathy but feminine, almost a whisper.

  • Cindy Burnett

    The Editor is an absolute gem from start to finish. Rowley writes beautifully and lyrically, and his depiction of tough familial issues interspersed with the wit and wisdom of Jackie Onassis creates a perfect tale.

    James Smale is an unpublished author whose autobiographical novel about his dysfunctional has been sold to Doubleday Books. Sent by his agent to the publishing house, Smale is astonished to learn that Jackie Kennedy Onassis is his editor. As they commence working together to prepare t

    The Editor is an absolute gem from start to finish. Rowley writes beautifully and lyrically, and his depiction of tough familial issues interspersed with the wit and wisdom of Jackie Onassis creates a perfect tale.

    James Smale is an unpublished author whose autobiographical novel about his dysfunctional has been sold to Doubleday Books. Sent by his agent to the publishing house, Smale is astonished to learn that Jackie Kennedy Onassis is his editor. As they commence working together to prepare the novel for publication, the two develop a friendship of sorts as Jackie strives to help James come to terms with unresolved family issues.

    Rowley’s inclusion of Jackie Onassis makes the novel spectacular. Her background, intelligence, and sophistication lend a fascinating and unique dimension to The Editor. In addition, Rowley writes with humor and empathy creating a gratifying, funny, and at times heartbreaking tale. Time and again I found myself marking pages where Rowley had written a clever or thought-provoking sentence. This story will stay with me for a long time.

    A friend and I were discussing literature trends the other day, and as I described the premise of The Editor, we were noting that both this book and The Dinner List include very famous individuals in new settings. Instead of writing historical fiction, Rowley and Searle have created new stories with very well-known women playing significant roles. Both books are magnificent, and I would love to see this trend continue.

    The Editor is a fabulous book that will certainly remain a favorite of mine. Plans to develop the book into a movie are already underway with Greg Berlanti set to direct, and Rowley adapting the book to a screenplay so make sure to read it before the movie comes out!

  • Tammy

    Unpublished author, James Smale, is star-struck. Who wouldn’t be? When he finally secures a book deal his editor is none other than Mrs. Jackie Onassis. However, there is one major snag. Mrs. Onassis is less than thrilled with the ending which she urges him to re-write. This leads James to confront and untangle the knot of his relationship with his mother. Who among us doesn’t struggle with relationships? James’ observations, actions and revelations are sardonic, droll and quite relatable even i

    Unpublished author, James Smale, is star-struck. Who wouldn’t be? When he finally secures a book deal his editor is none other than Mrs. Jackie Onassis. However, there is one major snag. Mrs. Onassis is less than thrilled with the ending which she urges him to re-write. This leads James to confront and untangle the knot of his relationship with his mother. Who among us doesn’t struggle with relationships? James’ observations, actions and revelations are sardonic, droll and quite relatable even if you’ve never been a mother or a son. Overall, an agreeable novel that also provides a glimpse into the way authors and editors craft a finished book.

  • Judy

    Wouldn't it be great if Jackie O. was your editor? Well that's what's happened to James when his first book is accepted by a publisher - he's assigned to Jackie Kennedy Onassis. James is awestruck,

    James has written a book about his mother and their relationship. It needs some work according to Jackie, especially the end - she wants it rewritten. As James works on the rewrite he learns some things about his life, his mother, and his father.

    This book was filled with both humor and introspection.

    Wouldn't it be great if Jackie O. was your editor? Well that's what's happened to James when his first book is accepted by a publisher - he's assigned to Jackie Kennedy Onassis. James is awestruck,

    James has written a book about his mother and their relationship. It needs some work according to Jackie, especially the end - she wants it rewritten. As James works on the rewrite he learns some things about his life, his mother, and his father.

    This book was filled with both humor and introspection. I enjoyed the writing style so it was easy to keep reading as the story unfolded (no pun intended). A great read.

    Thanks to Edelweiss for an advance copy!

  • Katie B

    I actually squealed when I first read the synopsis for this one. I thought it was such a clever idea for a historical fiction book and I was really impressed with the author's ability to think a little outside the box. Instead of having a story revolve around Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her time as First Lady, this book features a writer who receives quite the surprise when he finds out Mrs. Onassis is going to be the editor for his book. Her time working for a publishing house and the last few y

    I actually squealed when I first read the synopsis for this one. I thought it was such a clever idea for a historical fiction book and I was really impressed with the author's ability to think a little outside the box. Instead of having a story revolve around Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her time as First Lady, this book features a writer who receives quite the surprise when he finds out Mrs. Onassis is going to be the editor for his book. Her time working for a publishing house and the last few years of her life haven't been written about as much as some of the earlier periods of her life so I was excited to read this one.

    I wouldn't even say I'm a big fan of the Kennedy family, but I do find them fascinating, particularly the women, and find myself reading either historical fiction or non-fiction books about them every once in awhile. Now while this book falls into the historical fiction category it is more fiction than fact based. Essentially the author took a fact about Jackie, in this case she was an editor, and used his imagination to come up with the rest of the story. All in all, I think he did a pretty good job at depicting the former First Lady.

    I loved how this book took place in the publishing world in the 1990s and really enjoyed that feeling like I was getting an inside look into the process a book goes through before it is published. I was actually surprised at how much depth there was to the story as it wasn't just a simple story about a writer and his extremely famous editor. It takes awhile to head in a meaningful direction but it does eventually explore some interesting subjects including mother-son dynamics. So if the whole writing thing or even Jackie O isn't all that appealing consider checking this one out as you might still find it to be a worthwhile read.

    The only small criticism I have is I didn't like the plot device that was used during the Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, it set the stage for things to come but I was still disappointed. Basically I wish the author would have come up with something else in order to accomplish everything he wanted to in the rest of the story. This is just a nitpick though as overall I really enjoyed the book. Definitely recommend as a good read.

    Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review here and all views expressed are my honest opinion.

  • Amy Imogene Reads

    4 stars

    An aspiring gay novelist in 1990s New York lands a publishing deal exploring the estranged relationship between a mother and son, and discovers his Doubleday editor is none other than former First Lady of the United States, Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

    was touching, introspective, and full of nuanced emotional character arcs.

    ★★★★★

    ★★★ 1/2

    ★★★

    She is a pivotal character, but her arc in

    4 stars

    An aspiring gay novelist in 1990s New York lands a publishing deal exploring the estranged relationship between a mother and son, and discovers his Doubleday editor is none other than former First Lady of the United States, Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

    was touching, introspective, and full of nuanced emotional character arcs.

    ★★★★★

    ★★★ 1/2

    ★★★

    She is a pivotal character, but her arc in

    takes a strong third place to the events of both the protagonist and the protagonist's quest to finish his novel.

    Talk of Clinton's election is prominent throughout and the perception of the homosexual community was present.

    follows James as he works (under Jackie Kennedy's direction) to find an accurate resolution to his novel, which involves the painful confrontation between the protagonist and his aloof mother. This is an obviously autobiographical work, as James himself has many conflicted issues with his mother and is attempting to repair those bridges indirectly/directly through his novel.

    However, due to the nature of James' constant search for internal reparations and external quest for resolution

    and entirely focused on James' thoughts and feelings. There were

    , lending a sense of odd pacing and making me bored with James.

    .

    Overall, a great read! Recommended for fans of

    and others who enjoy intimate and emotional tales.

  • Larry H

    4.5 stars.

    Steven Rowley's

    really hit the spot for me. It was utterly charming, it had so much heart, and it dealt with some of my favorite subjects—family dysfunction, struggles with self-confidence, writing, secrets, and the relationships that crop up in the most unlikely of places.

    James Smale has always dreamed of being a writer. After having his first few short stories published, he imagined the path to literary success would be easy. But writing a novel never seemed to come easy

    4.5 stars.

    Steven Rowley's

    really hit the spot for me. It was utterly charming, it had so much heart, and it dealt with some of my favorite subjects—family dysfunction, struggles with self-confidence, writing, secrets, and the relationships that crop up in the most unlikely of places.

    James Smale has always dreamed of being a writer. After having his first few short stories published, he imagined the path to literary success would be easy. But writing a novel never seemed to come easy, and although he hoped inspiration would hit, he wondered if he was destined to be one of those people whose early promise fizzled out. Living in New York City in the early 1990s, it seemed as if he was more suited to random temp jobs than wearing the mantle of a writer.

    Then he decided to write about what he knew better than anything—his relationship with his mother, an enigmatic woman whom James believed blamed him for the end of her marriage, since she had to essentially choose between him and his father. He is thrilled when he finds out that a major publisher is interested in publishing his novel.

    And then he meets the editor who fell in love with his book—Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie, or Mrs. Onassis, as she is known in the office, loves the complexity of the relationships in James' novel, and she identifies with the main character since she, too, is a fiercely protective mother. James is utterly blown away that this infamous woman, whose family was always a fascination for his mother, has taken an interest in his writing, and believes this novel is worth being seen by the world.

    But Jackie believes James hasn't dug as deeply into his characters and their story as she thinks he can, and she pushes him to do so. Little by little their working relationship develops into a friendship of sorts, even as he wonders if someone as complex as Jackie can truly be known by someone like him.

    The reality of the book is causing serious ripples in his relationship with his mother as well as his relationship with his partner, Daniel. He isn't sure if he can finish it, and then a secret is revealed which makes him wonder if he's telling the right story at all. As everything spirals out of control, James needs to figure out the truth about his relationship with his mother and needs to decide what he wants from his relationship with Daniel, but more than that, he doesn't want to disappoint Jackie.

    I thought this was a beautifully written book, brimming with poignancy and complexity. James was complex and utterly appealing even when he was doing things that made him unsympathetic, and I couldn't get enough of his story. But Rowley's treatment of Jackie Onassis, meshing the familiar tropes with fascinating depth. I loved the relationship Rowley created between James and Jackie.

    "I'm struck with profound gratitude that our paths have magically crossed for this brief moment of existence; she is, I see now, the only logical editor this book could have had. My book, my valiant quest to understand my own Arthurian legend with Igraine at the heart, to define my own Camelot, in the tender hands of Guinevere herself. My eyes well with tears even though knights are not supposed to cry."

    This was a quick, immensely enjoyable read, and I'll think about this book for a while.

    See all of my reviews at

    .

    Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at

    .

    You can follow me on Instagram at

  • Carol (Bookaria)

    is written by the same author that wrote

    , which is a book I loved.

    Imagine that, after pouring your heart into writing a book, a publishing house in NY calls you to have your work polished by an editor, and that editor is no other than Jackie Kennedy-Onassis!  I'd be so excited I'd pass away on the spot.

    The novel follows the relationship between

    , the editor, and

    , the writer, as they work together. We are exposed to the editing process and the story is

    is written by the same author that wrote

    , which is a book I loved.

    Imagine that, after pouring your heart into writing a book, a publishing house in NY calls you to have your work polished by an editor, and that editor is no other than Jackie Kennedy-Onassis!  I'd be so excited I'd pass away on the spot.

    The novel follows the relationship between

    , the editor, and

    , the writer, as they work together. We are exposed to the editing process and the story is narrated in a witty and humorous tone.

    I enjoyed it (although not as much as I enjoyed

    , which left me emotionally punched and I'm still trying to recover), and highly recommend it to readers of contemporary and historical fiction.

  • JanB

    How would you react if you show up at a meeting with a publisher, and find out to your surprise that the editor is none other than Jackie Kennedy Onassis? This is the situation James Smale finds himself in when the book opens. It seems Jackie has fallen in love with his autobiographical novel based on his dysfunctional family, and she and James will work together to edit his book. What a terrific premise and the wit and humor only added to my enjoyment.

    But the more I got into the book the more b

    How would you react if you show up at a meeting with a publisher, and find out to your surprise that the editor is none other than Jackie Kennedy Onassis? This is the situation James Smale finds himself in when the book opens. It seems Jackie has fallen in love with his autobiographical novel based on his dysfunctional family, and she and James will work together to edit his book. What a terrific premise and the wit and humor only added to my enjoyment.

    But the more I got into the book the more bored I became. I sped up the audio narration. Despite a bombshell that was dropped at 50% I failed to engage with the characters or the story line.

    I knew Jackie Kennedy Onassis was an editor at Doubleday but I didn’t like the way the author fictionalized Jackie, who is such an American icon. It felt like a gimmick to shore up a weak plot and I didn’t think it added anything to the story.

    This was a buddy read with Marialyce, and we were both disappointed. I listened to the audio and if I had not been a captive audience in the car I would have DNF'd. The narrator was good but couldn't carry a lackluster story. It made my long drive feel even longer.

    Final thoughts: This book had an interesting premise and a strong start that quickly fizzled and employed a gimmick that fell flat.

    *I received a free digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

  • Marialyce

    There are some books that start up out of the gate as gang busters and make you think that this book is one for you. That is how this book began for me. When I got to the fifty percent point, I started to think oh no, this book is sliding downhill but hoped that it would once again be the five star read it was in the beginning. Unfortunately that didn't occur and as I continued to read I became more and more disappointed.

    The premise of a new author's book being edited by the indomitable Jacqueli

    There are some books that start up out of the gate as gang busters and make you think that this book is one for you. That is how this book began for me. When I got to the fifty percent point, I started to think oh no, this book is sliding downhill but hoped that it would once again be the five star read it was in the beginning. Unfortunately that didn't occur and as I continued to read I became more and more disappointed.

    The premise of a new author's book being edited by the indomitable Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis was a draw into the story though of course not the main idea. James Smale, the author, is a man who is initially elated and develops a "relationship" with Mrs Onassis. Then however, as we learn more about James and his tenuous relationship to his mother and his doubts about his unsuspecting boyfriend, I began to see a flawed character. It's not that I don't like flawed characters in my books, but James seemed to me to be a whiny pouting character. True, he faced a revelation that was awful, but he fed into his desperation. He seemed to wallow in sorrow and he became a character I could not help but dislike. Perhaps that is the reason why I found this book to be boring as James continued to be that woe is me person as the story continued.

    I know there are many of my book friends who found this story to be ever so worthwhile, so please do take look at their reviews when deciding if this story is for you. For me, it was not worth my time and effort and the disappointment I felt seemed to increase with every page.

    Jan and I tried to read this story together, but it was a book we both felt was not for us.

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