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Jemima J: A Novel About Ugly Ducklings and Swans

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  99,000 Ratings  ·  2,290 Reviews
Jemima Jones is overweight. About one hundred pounds overweight. Treated like a maid by her thin and social-climbing roommates, and lorded over by the beautiful Geraldine (less talented but better paid) at the Kilburn Herald, Jemima finds that her only consolation is food. Add to this her passion for her charming, sexy, and unobtainable colleague Ben, and Jemima knows her ...more
Paperback, 373 pages
Published June 5th 2001 by Broadway Books
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 03, 2015 Mallory rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, adult
This book actually made me mad when I read it, to the point that I stuck a post-it note warning in the book before I returned it to the library.

Five reasons why this book is dreadful:

a) The heroine, Jemima, is constantly described as being morbidly obese and too fat to function in society. Jane Green, the author, mentions several times that Jemima can't fit into chairs. Now, Jemima is 5'7 and 217 pounds. That may not be the size of a supermodel, but the way Jemima is described throughout the bo
Dec 30, 2014 Jenn rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, bodies
I wonder how the slender Jane Green, author of Jemima J, would feel if I wrote a novel about an anorexic woman who, whenever she ventures outside, is forced to clutch at nearby railings and walls in order to keep from succumbing to a 5-mph wind that threatens to blow her away.

I don't think Jane Green did any research on fat women when she wrote this book. Her protagonist, Jemima Jones, at 217 pounds (I want you to take a look at my profile picture at this point, because I weigh about that much),
Apr 26, 2008 Holly rated it it was ok
Dear Bridget Jones,

You really should meet up for a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant with Jemima Jones. I think the two of you have the potential to be great friends, as you have so much more in common than just your last names (distant, long-lost relatives, perhaps?).

After all, you’re both single women, journalists, Londoners, traumatized by eccentric mothers, habitual dieters, smartasses, Silk Cut smokers, and prone to sleeping with handsome bastards while waiting for Mr. Right to come alon
Apr 16, 2012 Kelly rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who think an eating disorder is a great way to lose weight.
I've never been so thoroughly disgusted with a book. In Jemima J, Jane Green glorifies anorexia and then tries to claim that the main character is merely "obsessed" with exercising, even though she is clearly not eating. The result? Jemima loses a massive amount of weight (about 80 lbs.) in a short period of time, and all of a sudden, men can't keep their eyes off of her.

The plot is lame, even for Chick Lit. Fat girl falls in love with unattainable guy, chats with American hunk online, decides t
Aug 02, 2007 Amy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those looking for an easy, entertaining read
Shelves: chicklit
Maybe because I deal with literature every day in my job, I tend to pick books that are entertaining and easy to read while trying to wind down... and Jane Green's books fit that description for me. A lot of the other reviews I've read trash the "message" of this book about fat people, losing weight, etc.... but somehow I doubt that she wrote this as an attack on fat people of the world... or to promote eating disorders. I found Jemima to be pretty "real" -- most people don't initially go right ...more
Mar 16, 2008 Julie rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who need kindling
Ugh. This book doesn't empower "ugly ducklings," it panders to them. The fat-phobia is so thick in this book I can't believe I got through it. The main character's obvious eating disorder is glorified, encouraged, and applauded. If I were a lesser woman here is the message I would've gleaned from this shitfest: "The only way to be happy, advance your career, find a hot man, and make your skanky roommates jealous is: eat lettuce and work out fanatically. Also, lying on the internet is ok!"

Lisa Jayne
Jun 11, 2013 Lisa Jayne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of chick lit
"Sometimes in life, you have to make things happen. That you can change your life if you're willing to let go of the old and actively look for the new. That even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.”


This is my ultimate go to book, it's like comfort pages for my book soul. I fell in love with Jane Green's perfectly written novels some years ago in my late teens and I have read and re read the novel so much that my paperback version is l
Abigail Hillinger
May 01, 2007 Abigail Hillinger rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People training to have an eating disorder.
Shelves: blech
It's been a long time since I've read this book. But I remember the pertinent details. Jemima, an "ugly duckling" (basically a woman who is plus-size, doesn't have highlights, and dresses comfortably instead of fashionably), is in love with her co-worker. Because she's an ugly duckling, of course, he doesn't notice her.

So Jemima starts online chatting with a hot guy from California who, for the obvious ironic twist, owns a gym and is hyper into fitness. After chatting for awhile, he wants a pic
Tamara Evans
Nov 10, 2007 Tamara Evans rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
In the beginning of the book, I thought that Jemima J was going to be another one of those overweight girl bashing books in which the girl is forced to conform to what society defines as beautiful in order to find acceptance. Needless to say, this book definitely didn't disappoint, but the one thing which disturbed me the most was the manner in which it was done.

Being overweight myself, I saw lots of myself in the character of Jemima J, from people who are only your friends as long as you're "u
Jun 03, 2008 meghan rated it really liked it
What's difficult about any book like this - wherein an unhappy person changes and becomes happy - is that we as the reader are tempted to assume that the "message" is meant for us. In this case, if you are fat, you should become skinny if you want to be happy. You should turn yourself into an exercise fiend, get cute clothes, learn to do makeup (because fat chicks don't know how, obviously), and you'll land yourself the man of your dreams.
The thing is, though, that's not what I think this story
Dec 03, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: chicklit, 2003, jane-green
I don't have a whole to say about this book. I enjoyed it enough that I read the whole book and I did want to find out what happened at the end - but I thought the message of the book overall was pretty dreadful. I can't decide if the author has never been seriously overweight and just assumes things in her writing - or has been overweight and has such a bad case of body dysmorphia that her self loathing distorts her writing to the point where you stand back and go HUH?
I think this book was a d
Becca Becca
Jan 02, 2008 Becca Becca rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hated, modern-lit
After reading this book I came up with a pretty mathematical formula.

Chick lit = crap

I employ this equation whenever I'm browsing for books and it saves me time and money.

Apr 30, 2009 Jen3n rated it did not like it
Shelves: awful
Okay, here's the thing: there is really no way I can write why this book is so awful without sounding bitter. You know how everyone says how only ugly girls hate beauty pageants? Well, I've heard it said also that only fat girls hate this book. And I am fat. So there's that out of the way right out of the gate.

Oh! But not as fat as the main character of this novel. At least, not according to Jane Green, the lady who wrote this book. I couldn't possible be, given the descriptions given of the cha
Jun 28, 2011 Amber rated it it was amazing
Clearly nobody that read this book read it to the end OR understood the authors intent.
Yes, Jane Green touched on every womans insecurities. She showe how far a woman will go and how much she will torment herself to be thin and beautiful...just to find out its never good enough. I felt that at the end of the book she made a HUGE statement. That societies idea of beautiful is created by a few people in the media. That not everyone loves this type of "pretty". I felt so empowered and inspired whe
Dec 08, 2007 Jen rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit, fiction
The first 50 or so pages were dreadful. I only continued reading because it's not easy to find English language books in Japan.

I guess what I hated is how the author keeps switching back and forth between first and third person. Maybe if I hadn't majored in English in college I wouldn't have been driven nuts by this, but it really got on my nerves. And I hated some of the theatrical comments. Some of the things she wrote would have fit well for a TV show narrated by a third party, but to write
Oct 27, 2011 Katie rated it really liked it
I'm opposed to books being labeled as "beach reads" - why should your brain go down a few levels in intelligence just because you're on the beach? I don't want to waste my time on something that sucks so badly I can only handle it when I'm only half-paying attention due to screaming little kids, threats of sun-poisoning and hot lifeguards. Thus, this is not a "beach read" (although I don't see why you couldn't read it on a beach, provided you have the above distractions removed). Rather, I'm jus ...more
Jan 25, 2012 Linds rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Are you kidding? No one.
This is one of the worst books I've ever read, if not the worst book I've ever read. As someone who has read over 600 books, this is not something I say lightly.

I was at the beach with no book for the weekend and my sister had this, there's no way I would have finished it otherwise.
Dec 29, 2008 Elicia rated it it was ok
This is a train wreck, which I, of course, couldn't put down.
Ashley Sexton
Sep 25, 2011 Ashley Sexton rated it it was amazing
Let me preface this by saying I was exactly Jemima's size (as described in the book, only a few inches shorter) when I first read this book. So, to state the obvious, I was fat.

I LOVED this book - and here's why.

1) If you've ever struggled with weight (and everyone from a size 2 to a size 20 has), you can identify with Jemima J's character. Her thoughts, feelings, lies about who she really is and why she eats, and her dislike for her beautiful (if somewhat shallow) roommates. Because you relate
Jan 21, 2009 DevonAlyse rated it it was amazing

I started this book and then put it down over two years ago. Last December, seeing my bookshelves sagging and this being one of the few that I had not read/finished reading, I picked it back up.

I, like most of the reviewers here, am not a fan of the switching from first to third person. That is annoying to no end. And that is the major thing that frustrated me about this book.

I'm a larger girl, and while yes, I see the points made about this book having problems with fat-phobia and eati
Jun 25, 2015 Obsidian rated it liked it
So here's the thing. Before I purged all of my Amazon reviews I think most people would have realized that I used to be a huge fan of Jane Green. I loved Jemima J, Mr. Maybe, and even loved Bookends. Then I started to really not get many of Jane Green's later books and after a while just stopped making them my always have to buy books. However, I still re-read Jemima J, Mr. Maybe, and Bookends once every year or so. Jemima J holds a special place in my heart just because it was my first Jane Gre ...more
Elley Murray
Apr 15, 2010 Elley Murray rated it liked it
Shelves: chick-lit, reviewed
Loved this book to start. I have to say that I can always get behind a plus-sized leading lady, so of course I was in love with Jemima Jones... until I found out the Jemima is 5'7" and weighed 217 lbs at her largest. Jemima is described as being almost grotesquely fat, so when the acutal number of pounds she weights comes up, it stopped me in my tracks. "Wait, what??" I'm 5'4" and weigh 212, so what kind of fat monster does that make me? I don't feel like people stare at me on the street or only ...more
Dec 14, 2012 Saumya rated it did not like it
I read this book long back. I was repelled by it, to say the least! What's wrong with this book? Now where to begin with.. So our protagonist is a really fat but good hearted girl and it's because of her appearance no guy likes her. Beneath the extra layers of fat is a really awesome chic. Whats the way out? Lose the fat and u ll be a heart throb! (so says the book).
The book in no way empowers plus size women. If at all it manages to do anything, it is to demean them, make them feel sorry about
Nov 25, 2007 Kayjay rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: fat girls who don't love themselves, or skinny girls who want to mock.
Shelves: chick-lit
Okay, first of all, the switching from first person to second person to third and then back again was FREAKING ANNOYING. I can see how the author did it for effect, but it felt a little too much like she wanted to write a screenplay instead of a novel, and that was her shortcut to prose.

The other reviews here are pretty much spot-on. Jemima is fat and she hooks up with a guy online because the people she knows IRL don't 'want' her, but her supposedly-good friend enables her in sending a photosho
Green doesn't offer original plots, memorable characters, or anything resembling a surprise, and I no longer notice when she comes out with a new release, but for what it's worth, I'd never dated when I read her work back in high school and it did provide its voyeuristic, vicarious pleasures at the time. Does that mean her books are good? No, but let's call them comfort reads. Read sparingly and watch out for trans-fats.
Feb 26, 2011 Catie rated it did not like it
I was about *this close* to returning this to the library unfinished. If only! I usually adore cinderella type "makeover" stories. I found it very hard to get any joy out of this one though. The narration is just plain weird. It switches (quite frequently, even mid-scene) back and forth between first person (Jemima) and third person omniscient...except the third person narrator has an attitude and is sort of preachy. If Jemima's like Cinderella, then the narrator could be her fairy godmother, wh ...more
Andrea Caro
Jan 04, 2011 Andrea Caro rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: those who have nothing better to do, binge-eaters with unrealistic ideas about dieting
Recommended to Andrea by: I don't know, but, shit, I want to punch that person.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 22, 2011 Beth rated it did not like it
*cue dramatic drumroll*

Why am I drumrolling? Well, I am drumrolling because this book was something very 'special'...something that offended me on a MORAL LEVEL.

*cue horrified gasps*

I'm kidding, and I'll stop this stagey formatting. It must be pissing off anyone who's reading it.

I appreciate that weight is an extremely difficult thing to talk about. Partly because everyone understands the important of being comfortable and confident, regardless of the weight that you are, but many people (myself
Lucy Angela
Nov 03, 2012 Lucy Angela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chiclit
I don't know why this book has a low rating. because for me it's worth reading. maybe it's because I like makeover stories.

this is my first Jane Green book I read but I searched for Jane Green books ever since!
some of her book tell us about a value we should keep and this Jemima J. is one of that.

Jemima Jones is a fat girl that loves one of her colleagues named Ben Williams. but she knows that to be Ben's girl she must be dreaming. she also has a best friend in her office named Geraldine Turner
Jemima J. adalah seorang gadis Inggris yang gemuk yang merasa diabaikan oleh lingkungannya. Ia adalah gadis yang pintar, namun sepertinya kepintaran (plus mata hijaunya yang indah) tertutup oleh bobotnya yang 109 kg.

Ia menyukai salah seorang lelaki paling tampan, paling pintar di kantornya yang menyedihkan-The Killburn Herald-namun harus kecewa mengakui bahwa lelaki itu tidak menyimpan perasaan apapun selain murni persahabatan.

Lalu, Jemima mengenal dunia internet yang mengasyikkan. Ia berhasil
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Jane Green's eighteenth novel, Falling, is soon to be released with Berkley/Penguin; she is the author of sixteen previous New York Times Bestselling novels, and known as one of the world's leading authors in women's fiction, with over ten million books in print, and translations in over 25 languages.

Previous novels have included The Beach House, Second Chance, Jemima J, and Tempting Fate.

She joi
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“I think relationships are very difficult. It's very easy to get swept away with excitement, glamour, and passion. I think the trick is to look for friendship rather than passion.” 11 likes
“Sometimes in life, you have to make things happen. That you can change your life if you're willing to let go of the old and actively look for the new. That even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.” 11 likes
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