The Editor by Steven Rowley – A Review


The Editor by Steven Rowley
Historical Fiction
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Released April 2, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When I received an ARC of this novel and read the synopsis, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it. While I do love historical fiction, this book is focused around a fictional account of an author working with an esteemed editor, Jackie Kennedy Onassis. I usually don’t like novels that rely on celebrities for the plot, and a good portion of this novel is the main character, James Smale, fanboying over working with a Kennedy.

I was pleasantly surprised, however, as I worked my way through the book. The portrayal of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who really was an editor at the end of her life, was very well done and believable. While Smale’s obsession with working alongside her was annoying at times, it took the backseat to the real story of the novel, which was Smales’s crumbling relationship with his mother.

James has a really rough relationship with his mother, and the book he working on is making that divide grow even wider. Jackie encourages James to fix the ending to his novel, and to do this James decides to try to smooth things over with his mother. The family dynamics are really fascinating and make the story very engaging.

At times this novel was slow-moving and I had to find ways to keep myself interested in it. Overall though, I’m glad to have read it. I appreciate the research that Rowley put into developing the character of Jackie Kennedy Onassis as well as the feel of 1990s New York.

As a last little side note, this book made me feel old. It’s hard to believe the 1990s are now so far in the past as to be considered historical fiction. It really doesn’t feel like that long ago. Am I the only person that feels this way?

I’ve heard really amazing things about Rowley’s previous novel, Lily and the Octopus, and based on my pleasant experience with The Editor, I’m definitely adding it to my TBR pile.

Have you read The Editor? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

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Shelf Life by Suzanne Strempek Shea – A Review


Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Bookstore by Suzanne Strempek Shea
Non-Fiction | Memoir
Goodreads | Amazon
Published by Beacon Press
Released May 15, 2004
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_stars

As a book lover, I take a lot of pleasure in hearing other people talk about their love of books, which is why I always find myself picking up any book about books that I see at my local library. This is how I ended up checking out Suzanne Strempek Shea’s Shelf Life, which is about the author working at an independent bookstore.

I’ve always dreamed of owning a small bookstore, so I assumed I would love this memoir. However, I found it lacking in several areas.

First, I hard a very hard time connecting with the author and her writing style. The writing isn’t necessarily bad, it just seems unpolished and perhaps like it should have gone through another round of editing. There are also a lot of very boring lists, such as paragraphs (yes, more than one) where Shea literally just lists names of magazines that her bookstore stocks.

Another issue I had was that Shea frequently brings up the point that bookstore patrons shouldn’t be judged for what they’re reading or buying, while at the same time she becomes judgemental about what people buy. It’s hypocritical and left a bad taste in my mouth. No one should be judged on their choice of reading material. One example of this is when a woman buys two copies of The Dual Disorders Recovery Book and Shea starts making jokes as soon as she walks out. Luckily this behavior isn’t returned by her co-worker. This was actually the biggest problem I had with the book and a large part of the reason I’m rating it two stars.

Finally, there was too much self-promotion in this book, where she writes about how she’d always put her own book front and center so that customers would see it, and far too many parts of this book end with her talking about how she’s an author.

There are a few bits and pieces of the book that’s interesting enough, but it’s definitely not a book I would recommend for someone to get a good idea of what it’s actually like working in a bookstore.