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The Editor

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  4,450 ratings  ·  873 reviews
After years of struggling as a writer in 1990s New York City, James Smale finally gets his big break when his novel sells to an editor at a major publishing house: Jackie Kennedy. Jackie, or Mrs. Onassis as she's known in the office, has fallen in love with James's candidly autobiographical novel, one that exposes his own dysfunctional family. But when the book's forthcomi ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Putnam
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Lisa Update: I did read this and it did not make me cry. It has some sad parts, but it's absolutely nothing of a tear jerker the way Lily and the Octopus w…moreUpdate: I did read this and it did not make me cry. It has some sad parts, but it's absolutely nothing of a tear jerker the way Lily and the Octopus was. I ended up liking this one better. Looking forward to his next book!(less)

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Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,450 ratings  ·  873 reviews

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Larry H
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

Steven Rowley's The Editor really hit the spot for me. It was utterly charming, it had so much heart, and it dealt with some of my favorite subjects—family dysfunction, struggles with self-confidence, writing, secrets, and the relationships that crop up in the most unlikely of places.

James Smale has always dreamed of being a writer. After having his first few short stories published, he imagined the path to literary success would be easy. But writing a novel never seemed to come ea
Katie B
I actually squealed when I first read the synopsis for this one. I thought it was such a clever idea for a historical fiction book and I was really impressed with the author's ability to think a little outside the box. Instead of having a story revolve around Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her time as First Lady, this book features a writer who receives quite the surprise when he finds out Mrs. Onassis is going to be the editor for his book. Her time working for a publishing house and the last few y ...more
How would you react if you show up at a meeting with a publisher, and find out to your surprise that the editor is none other than Jackie Kennedy Onassis? This is the situation James Smale finds himself in when the book opens. It seems Jackie has fallen in love with his autobiographical novel based on his dysfunctional family, and she and James will work together to edit his book. What a terrific premise and the wit and humor only added to my enjoyment.

But the more I got into the book the more b
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Unpublished author, James Smale, is star-struck. Who wouldn’t be? When he finally secures a book deal his editor is none other than Mrs. Jackie Onassis. However, there is one major snag. Mrs. Onassis is less than thrilled with the ending which she urges him to re-write. This leads James to confront and untangle the knot of his relationship with his mother. Who among us doesn’t struggle with relationships? James’ observations, actions and revelations are sardonic, droll and quite relatable even i ...more
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I loved the audacity of Steven Rowley. He actually uses Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as one of his main characters. Not someone modeled after her, but her. And within the first few pages, as James says that his mother doesn’t want to be written about, he has her say “Well, your mother’s in good company there.”
I truly enjoyed Rowley’s writing. “And just like that, I’ve completed the slow climb to the top of the roller coaster.” Not lush writing, but spot on point descriptions.
I’ve always wondered
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-2019

OMG, and I’m not a fan of that phrase, but I’m listening to the audio and it is brilliant! Michael Urie fits as tight as “James Smale’s glove” as his character and narrator.

Out today! Run to the bookstore, or your computer to order. Read and or listen!

James Smale has wanted to write books since he first jammed out a neighborhood newsletter on his mother’s old typewriter when he was nine years old. That typewriter was beautiful, even he knew that at his young age, “It was a Swiss Hermes typewrit
Carol (Bookaria)
THE EDITOR is written by the same author that wrote LILY AND THE OCTOPUS, which is a book I loved.

Imagine that, after pouring your heart into writing a book, a publishing house in NY calls you to have your work polished by an editor, and that editor is no other than Jackie Kennedy-Onassis!  I'd be so excited I'd pass away on the spot.

The novel follows the relationship between Jackie, the editor, and James, the writer, as they work together. We are exposed to the editing process and the story is
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had high hopes and high expectations for this book. I loved the premise of the book and was interested to see how the author would portray Jackie Kennedy Onassis in her elusive later years and role as an editor, coming full circle from her pre-JFK days as a writer. I thought the author did a really good job of imagining her life in this role. I was hooked from the beginning of the book and originally thought it would be an all-night couldn’t put down kind of read. I can’t quite put my finger o ...more
There are some books that start up out of the gate as gang busters and make you think that this book is one for you. That is how this book began for me. When I got to the fifty percent point, I started to think oh no, this book is sliding downhill but hoped that it would once again be the five star read it was in the beginning. Unfortunately that didn't occur and as I continued to read I became more and more disappointed.

The premise of a new author's book being edited by the indomitable Jacqueli
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Smale has finished writing his first novel, “Quarantine”, and an editor at Doubleday is interested in publishing it. Until he arrives for his first meeting about the book he doesn’t know that the editor is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. James never stops being awed by her aura, history and celebrity. Quarantine is about mothers and sons and Mrs. Onassis is drawn to the book. In her gentle prodding of James to improve the book and make it more true, she also prods him to address issues with hi ...more
Cindy Burnett
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Editor is an absolute gem from start to finish. Rowley writes beautifully and lyrically, and his depiction of tough familial issues interspersed with the wit and wisdom of Jackie Onassis creates a perfect tale.

James Smale is an unpublished author whose autobiographical novel about his dysfunctional has been sold to Doubleday Books. Sent by his agent to the publishing house, Smale is astonished to learn that Jackie Kennedy Onassis is his editor. As they commence working together to prepare t

Set in New York City in the 1990’s, James Smale, a mid-thirties unpublished writer, finally catches a break after ten years of attempts, or perhaps twenty-five years if you count the years before college. An editor that might be interested in publishing his latest book has contacted him. He’s arrived at the publishing house, Doubleday, knowing he has an appointment with the editor, but not knowing which editor he has an appointment this, mistakenly believing the woman he was
Amy Imogene Reads
4 stars

An aspiring gay novelist in 1990s New York lands a publishing deal exploring the estranged relationship between a mother and son, and discovers his Doubleday editor is none other than former First Lady of the United States, Jackie Kennedy Onassis. The Editor was touching, introspective, and full of nuanced emotional character arcs.

Concept: ★★★★★
Protagonist: ★★★ 1/2
Pacing: ★★★

Right off the bat: this story is not focused on Jackie Kennedy. She is a pivotal character, but her arc in The Edi
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wouldn't it be great if Jackie O. was your editor? Well that's what's happened to James when his first book is accepted by a publisher - he's assigned to Jackie Kennedy Onassis. James is awestruck,

James has written a book about his mother and their relationship. It needs some work according to Jackie, especially the end - she wants it rewritten. As James works on the rewrite he learns some things about his life, his mother, and his father.

This book was filled with both humor and introspection.
Jonathan K
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I noticed this book in our "All the Buzz" section of our library, it caught my attention due to mention of JFK's wife as the book editor. Heart warming, it tells the story of the journey of a young author who is awed when he learns Mrs. Onasis is his editor. Blessed with invitations to her residences in NY and Martha's Vineyard, their interactions cause a ripple effect in his writing and life views. Using a motherly approach, Jackie guides the young author towards the goal of completion. St ...more
Lisa Leone-campbell
The Editor is a fictional novel about first time author James Smale who sells his book to Doubleday during the 1990's only to find out his editor is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The story is very lovely and awkward and funny at times as James tries to feel comfortable with his new editor and not make a complete fool of himself in the process of getting to know her.

As Jackie and James do begin to bond, James' other relationships, with his mother and family, whom the book is based, on begin to fall
Lisa Wolf
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I might be generous and make this 2.5 stars, which would then lead me to round up to 3... but nah. I just can't. I raced through this book, not because it was so compelling, but because I was afraid that if I slowed down, I'd just quit. The emotions and relationships just never rang true for me, and this book barely sustained my interest.
Louise Wilson
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After years of trying to make it as a writer in the 1990's New York City, James Smale finally sells his novel to an editor at a major publishing houses, none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis -- or Mrs Onassis as she is known in the office -- has fallen in love with James candidly autobiographical novel, one that exposes his own dysfunctional family. But when the books forthcoming publication threatens to unravel already fragile relationships, both within his family and with his partner, Jam ...more
Jamie Rosenblit
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
Imagine having Jackie Kennedy assigned as the editor of your debut novel, especially for a young male author grappling with maternal issues of his own. This is the premise of Steven Rowley's The Editor. I enjoyed this novel and the way James uses the writing and editing of his novel to discover himself. I will say, I picked up this novel for the Kennedy aspect - which was NOT so much the focus of the book. I think the role of Kennedy could have been played by anyone written as a strong maternal ...more
4.5 stars rounded up

 Lily and the Octopus was a book that I absolutely love, so I knew I would read anything Steven Rowley wrote next but when I read the synopsis for The Editor and found out that the editor in this book was Jackie Kennedy, it absolutely made it to the top of my must-read list of spring books.

James Smale is a young, unpublished novelist who is sent by his agent to Doubleday Books to discuss his semi-autobiographical novel with the person who wants to become his editor. No one wa
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Smale has finally sold his book to a publisher. When he arrives at the publisher's office in New York, he is shocked to discover the editor who wants to publish his book is none other than former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. As he progresses down the road towards publication, James has trouble finishing his story. The book is semi-autobiographical and could cause problems in his already tenuous relationships with his family and partner. He forms an unexpected friendship with Onas ...more
Robert Sheard
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I once had a writing coach tell me that one can't write a novel about a struggling novelist. The Editor is proof that he was a stupid, stupid man.

The first 30 pages of this made me snort with laughter and the final 30 pages made me tear up–something that books can rarely make me do.

And the story in between, about a struggling novelist working with a remarkable editor and searching for his own identity and the truth about his relationship with his own mother, is poignant, funny, heartbreaking,
Felice Laverne
Steven Rowley’s The Editor is a jaunty, light read that attempts humor on every page. The opening of the novel, in many ways, reminded me of a duller, less funny version the wide-eyed Andrea Sachs of The Devil Wears Prada but from a male perspective. However, Rowley’s version read more in the vein of puerile than comical, and the jokes and moments of humor never really hit the mark for me. As I read this novel, the attempts at comedy only distracted from the reading experience, because they mana ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
When I take a long time to finish a book because I am reading it between better books, it doesn’t bode too well for my final assessment. Actually, my favorite scene in the book is at the beginning, the first time our hero, James, meets Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. It’s the early years of the 90s, when she is a Doubleday editor with a small office, who uses a conference room to meet with a client because it has more space. I think Rowley captured her essence there, at least the grace and polish sh ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
This is one of those books you want to finish in one sitting. So try and find time to do that.

I enjoyed how Steven Rowley decided how to portray Jackie. He wrote her a a person, not just an American icon. And to tell more would be giving spoiler, which I don’t want to do.

A big way how this story appeals and it very striking is the time it is set. It takes place at the beginning of the Clinton Era. So, the story was a reflection of a new era that was supposed to be the second Camelot.

To say anyt
Felice Laverne
Review to come!
Maine Colonial
Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance reviewing copy.

Novelists often write stories or characters based on their own lives, and I’ve always wondered how that affected the author’s friends and family. What is it like to know that anything you say or do could end up being betrayed—and maybe mischaracterized—in a novel? I was attracted to this novel by the fact that the lead character, James Smale, has written a book about his troubled relationship with his mother, and he has to deal with
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, contemporary
sorry to say... this one didn‘t work for me. i loved the fast paced first few pages, and was interested in the permise - aspiring writer gets his first book accepted by doubleday and the editor he‘s going to work with is jackie kennedy onassis. the first meeting with her... he was just too much in awe, too childish, not getting over it - and this is how it went on for the rest of the book. oh, wow, she‘s a real person, what a surprise. the story of the novel he wrote also proved to be pretty dis ...more
Betsy Robinson
I suspect a lot of writers have a fantasy about having worked with Jacqueline Onassis as an editor—for probably as many different reasons as there are fantasies. Steven Rowley has written his, with Onassis as an accelerant to the healing of a mother/son relationship. It’s well done and I enjoyed it enough to read 300+ pages in two days.
Mandy White
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, read-in-2019
I love books about JFK and Jackie Kennedy so when I saw that there was a book about a writer whose editor was Jackie Kennedy I just had to read it. And I thoroughly enjoyed it - even getting teary at the end.
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Steven Rowley is the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus, which has been published in nineteen languages and is being developed as a major motion picture by Amazon Studios. He has worked as a freelance writer, newspaper columnist and screenwriter. Originally from Portland, Maine, he is a graduate of Emerson College. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

His new novel, The Editor (G.P. Putnam'

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