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Jemima J: A Novel About Ugly Ducklings and Swans Paperback – June 5, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

In premise, Green's 1998 novel, narrated by Barbara Rosenblat, is reminiscent of the vastly more popular Bridget Jones's Diary, tracing a similar story of a desperate, overweight, single business associate who is jealous of her roommates' soirees into an exotic, sexually driven nightlife. Here, Jemima Jones uses the Internet to invent a more perfect self as a gateway to fantasy and romance. In Great Britain the book has its fans and may have an appeal as a familiarly stereotypical Cinderella story, but the characters are more pathetic than amusing, and the predictability and whiny tone are too insulting and offensive to be worth listening to. Not recommended.
Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; First Edition edition (June 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767905180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767905183
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (871 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jane Green is a bestselling author of popular novels. She has been featured in People, Newsweek, USA Today, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. She lives in Connecticut with her family.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Jen McAllister on June 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
Well, it has certainly been established here that this is a "love-it-or-hate-it" kind of book. :)
My own feelings about Jemima J are not warm ones, but as other people here have enumerated, with much eloquence, the same problems that I had with the book (i.e. the condescending and snotty attitude toward the overweight, Jemima's unrealistic weight loss, Green's tendency to tell us that Jemima and Ben are smart and lovable, rather than show why they are smart and lovable), I will not dwell on them overmuch. What I do find distressing, though, are the number of positive reviews that dress down the negative reviewers for demanding too much of Jemima J. These reviews are peppered with phrases such as "It's just a fantasy," "It's just fiction," "This is a beach read, it's not Shakespeare/Milton/Anna Karenina," etc.
I doubt that a single person who picked up Jemima J picked it up because s/he mistook it for Anna Karenina. This is a beach read, it is a sweet, lighthearted, confectionery read, or at least it is meant to be. Jane Green makes no bones about that, nor should she. We all know exactly what kind of story she meant to tell; the question is, did she succeed? If you loved the book, then yes, she did. If you hated it, then no, she didn't. I would hazard a guess that everyone who didn't like Jemima J, myself included, picked it up wanting to like it, wanting to read a fantasy about a goodhearted, underappreciated girl who gets all the good things she deserves in life. I know that I certainly wasn't looking for Milton, or Shakespeare. I was looking for a character I could root for, one who has an adventure and runs into trouble only to come through it a stronger, better person who lives happily ever after. Jemima Jones was not that character for me.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
First off I agree with many of the other reviews that this book was not written well. It is irritating switching between 1st and 3rd person. I like many of the other reviewers am also overweight and was looking forward to having a character I could relate to but ended up being bitterly disappointed. I found this book to be offensive and unrealistic. I know this may come as a surprse to Jane Green but I do go out in public and I am even married. I find it hard to believe that I am the only overweight person in a healthy and even happy relationship so I will assume there are other overweight people out there also who did not have to shed 100lbs to meet someone special. Getting beyond the poor writing skills and obvious stereotypes of an overweight person (such as we all pig out 24/7). I will touch on the glaring errors. I find it hard to believe that someone as self conscious as Jemima would be seen eating 2 bacon sandwiches on her way to work. Also after working in a Doctors office I can attest that when someone who has been heavy her whole life loses a large amount of weight suddenly they do not automatically look like a supermodel. Most in truth are almost as unhappy with how they look naked after weight loss as they did before weight loss due to excess skin issues and sagging. Sorry to be graphic but its a simple truth. *SPOILER* Probably the most disturbing thing in the whole book is that the man she goes to be with in CA. He brings a woman over from England even though CA is full of beautiful women (or at least by the authors description) because he owns a fitness club and appearently is embaressed to be with a large sized woman. He does this even though he is in love with one and is obviously attracted to them given the photographs Jemima finds hidden in his room.Read more ›
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Adi Adler on March 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
After reading the first few pages of the book, I was amazed at how Jane Green was able to describe the life and feelings of an overweight person.
All that disappeared when I bought the book and had a chance to read a few more chapters. I'd have to agree with many points that were brought up in previous reviews: the fact that Jemima coult NOT lose so much weight it such a short time, and the fact that her skin wouldn't remain so smooth after such a quick diet. The fact that Jemima 'suddenly' became amazingly gorgeous once she lost the weight (a pretty face is noticeable even if it's fat!), so amazing that her close friend Ben Williams wouldn't recognize her from close up. The fact that airlines don't upgrade people based on looks (but based on miles or on a first come basis). The fact that the cravings don't just go away (even if you're in a good mood). The fact that Jane Green has exaggerated Jemima's weight and proportions so badly. The fact that Jane Green sees Americans (especially of the "Californian" breed) as shallow, stupid, and all the other stereotypes about Americans shw could find.
Many reviewers defended this book by saying it is basically a fairy tale. But if so - it's a dangerous one. Modern research discovered that overweight isn't caused by just overeating and lack of exercise - which is the way Jemima describes how fat people gain weight. Yes, Jemima (or rather - Jane Green), it HAS a lot to do with glands and other metabolic processes, which make some people gain weight relatively easily, while others manage to remain thin even if they pig out on food.
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