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Jemima J: A Novel About Ugly Ducklings and Swans Paperback – June 5, 2001
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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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.
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.
Top customer reviews
I didn't like the fact that the heroine had to lose weight to be happy. I did like that her weight loss wasn't a magic cure all for all that was wrong in her life, but it was close. It was well-written and some of the heroine's self-talk I was very familiar with as it sounded like my own.
While reading about how overweight Jemima was and how hard she was on herself, I was thinking she must be very, very obese. Turns out she weighted 217 ish. Although this is overweight for Jemima's height, I felt bad for her that she made herself feel like she weighed 500 pounds and was worthless and no man would love her for who she was. She worked hard, started eating right, and lost some weight. But then like a lot of people she became caught up in wanting to be thin and started exercising more and eating less than she should have. I was a little annoyed by how quickly she lost the weight. In real life and doing what she was, weight probably wouldn't have dropped off that fast. I decided to overlook this and continue reading because I liked Jemima and wanted her to have happiness no matter how much she weighed.
One thing that never changed about Jemima was the person she was. Regardless of her weight, she was still kind towards everyone despite her new looks.
I was glad that she saw finally found out the truth about Brad. I predicted his behavior with regard to Jenny and was slightly pissed off that he couldn't stand up to everyone and just admit that he loved Jenny no matter how she looked. And then Jenny made me mad that she put up with the situation also.
Ben was great that he didn't get caught up in looks and wasn't hooking up with woman who wanted him that were so attractive. I was kind of disappointed with him that once he realized who Jemima was and how he felt; he couldn't have felt that back when they worked at the paper together. But attraction is part of a relationship and Ben had never been overly superficial so if he loves her he'll still love her if she gains some weight.
In the end I was glad Jemima got what she wanted, but she should have gotten it no matter how she looked.