Steven Rowley’s imaginative novel is about James Smale, an unpublished author who learns that his novel about his dysfunctional relationship with his mother is going to be published by Doubleday. Just as he is digesting this news he also learns his editor will be none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis, which according to James she pronounces “somewhere between the French and American pronounciations… JACK-well-in? Zhak-LEEN.”
Jacqueline loves James’ novel but feels the ending is unresolved. Together they forge a professional relationship as he works furiously to finish the manuscript and address her comments which she writes neatly in all capital letters on his manuscripts. Still unfinished and struggling to provide the authentic ending Jacqueline feels the book is missing, she encourages him to go back home to find out what happened to his once strong relationship with his mother. James finally relents and their meeting results in an explosive discovery. Fireworks ensue, which only adds more color to the story.
I enjoyed reading this novel. Rowley brings the relationship between James Smale and his mother, father, partner and of course Jacqueline to life. His sense of humor and wit are sprinkled throughout and had me laughing late at night reading in bed. Below is one such scene about halfway through the book when the author, Smale, is racing to get his latest manuscript to Jacqueline’s office before the Thanksgiving holiday.
When I reached the building, my trailing scarf gets caught in the revolving door, and for a flickering second I imagine suffering the fate of that dancer from the 1920s (what was her name?) whose scarf caught in the open spokes of her car’s rear wheel. I can picture myself crumpled on the floor between revolving glass door partitions, maunscript pages raining down on me like prize money inside the cash booth on Beat the Clock. (Isadora Duncan! That was her name.)
This book can be purchased online at Amazon but you can also check with your local bookstore to see if they will order you a copy.