Green, Jane 1968-
GREEN, Jane 1968-
PERSONAL: Born 1968; married; children.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House, Inc., 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Author, journalist, and public relations professional.
Straight Talking, Mandarin (London, England), 1997, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Jemima J, Penguin (London, England), 1998, published as Jemima J.: A Novel about Ugly Ducklings and Swans, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Mr. Maybe, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Bookends, Michael Joseph (London, England), 2000, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Babyville, Michael Joseph (London, England), 2001, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Spellbound, Michael Joseph (London, England), 2003, published as To Have and to Hold, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Best-selling British author Jane Green built her success on novels described by some as "Chick Lit," stories often centering around witty and vivacious young women in their twenties or thirties, confident and professional but with some appealing quirks, style-conscious and socially aware, single but interested in finding a wonderful man or, failing that, a great pair of shoes.
In Green's first novel, Straight Talking, Tasha is glamorous and successful as the producer of a popular British call-in chat show. Still, Tasha, like her friends Mel, Andrea, and Emma, has relationship problems: the men she is attracted to ultimately turn out to be rakes and cads, and most of the rest of her male friends consider her just "one of the guys." Men, the women conclude, are just no good, but "handsome bastards remain must-have accessories," commented a Kirkus Reviews critic. For a change, Tasha goes out with Adam, a friend of her ex-boyfriend Simon. Adam is "a kindly bear of a man who is unfortunately far too normal and unexciting" for Tasha, the Kirkus Reviews critic noted. When Adam declares his love for her, Tasha reacts poorly, but finally comes to realize that sweet Adam may indeed offer her everything she needs. "Fun to read and full of keen relationship observations, this novel is sure to be demanded by Green's numerous fans," stated Karen Core in Library Journal.
The title character in Jemima J is a columnist for a small London newspaper who feels trapped in her hackwork job. Because she is overweight, she is passed over for a deserved promotion and ignored as a potential love interest by Ben, the paper's deputy editor and the object of her infatuation. After taking an Internet class, she strikes up an online romance with California fitness expert Brad. She sends him an altered photograph of herself as much thinner and blonde, then realizes with some desperation that she has to look like her photo when the inevitable invitation to meet Brad comes. A severe diet and exercise program trims away 100 pounds, and her escapades with Brad are as satisfying as she expected. However, it turns out that Brad is in love with his secretary Jenny, who is quite overweight. In the meantime, Ben has become a television celebrity who realizes that he has always loved Jemima, whether she is thick or thin or anywhere in between. The novel "conveys with sass and humor both the invisibility of the overweight and the shallow perks that accrue to the thin and beautiful," observed Jean Reynolds in a People review. Though Nancy Pearl in Library Journal found Jemima J to be "superficial," even "ridiculous," Booklist's Kristine Huntley called it "charming, witty, good-hearted fun." A Publishers Weekly reviewer stated that "the concept is clever and nicely handled," and remarked that Green "capture[s] the nuances and neuroses of the singles scene with a gimlet eye and an uninhibited voice."
Libby Mason, a London publicist, finds that she must choose between two eligible bachelors in Mr. Maybe. Handsome and fun-loving writer Nick is a joy to be around, funny and skilled in the arts of love. But he is also perpetually broke and living in a grubby bachelor apartment. Ed McMahon is rich, generous, and deeply in love with Libby. Ed can provide the finer material things, but he's also obnoxious, almost universally disliked, and a poor lover. As these two Mr. Maybes vie for Libby's affections, she has to decide what, to her, constitutes the truest form of love. Libby is an "endearingly flawed, contemporary London career girl" who "manages to garner reader sympathy and even a cheer or two," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Although Joseph V. Tirella, writing in People, commented on Libby's temporary flirtation with avarice ("her gold-digging streak couldn't be more obvious if she carried a pickax"), Huntley, in another Booklist review, called Mr. Maybe "a warm, funny novel about a single girl trying to find love."
With Bookends, Green "offers a near perfect—and near perfectly cliched—romantic wish fulfillment fantasy, complete with perfect gay best friend, perfect bookshop, perfect Hugh Grant-like love object, and perfectly coy tricks to keep the lovers apart for 400 pages," remarked a Kirkus Reviews critic. Catherine, Simon, Josh, and Portia were all good friends during college. After the beautiful and aloof Portia seduces Josh, she walks away from her lover and her friends. Over the years, the others settle into their lives. Catherine and new friend Lucy open a combination bookshop and cafe, brokered to them by handsome and interesting real estate agent James, who begins dating Catherine. Unexpectedly, Portia reappears, threatening the comfortable and stable lives the group has built and reawakening unresolved issues from a decade before.
In some of Green's works, the women who have successfully found their perfect man also start families. In Babyville, "Green moves on to what happens after the fairy tale," remarked Lan N. Nguyen in People. Three friends look at motherhood from different perspectives as each comes to terms with her feelings regarding children. Television producer Julia thinks a baby will reinvigorate her lackluster relationship with longtime boyfriend Mark. Maeve, a colleague of Julia's, faces an unwanted pregnancy from a one-time romp with a higher-up at the station. And new mother Sam discovers from stained, exhausted experience that being a mother isn't a cozy ideal but genuine work. "There's enough suspense and humor to make up for some cliched characters," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "and Green keeps the dialogue snappy and the pace fast." Green, Nguyen noted, "draws dead-on portraits of the emotional roller coaster each woman is riding."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book, May-June, 2002, review of Bookends, p. 50.
Booklist, April 1, 2000, Kristine Huntley, review of Jemima J.: A Novel about Ugly Ducklings and Swans, p. 1412; March 15, 2001, Huntley, review of Mr. Maybe, p. 1332; March 1, 2004, Huntley, review of To Have and to Hold, p. 1101.
Bookseller, July 6, 2001, review of Babyville, p. 32.
Entertainment Weekly, June 8, 2001, Clarissa Cruz, "Text and the Single Girl: Move over Bridget Jones—The Latest Crop of Chick Lit Is Hitting the Shelves," review of Mr. Maybe, p. 68; September 26, 2003, Cruz, "Chick-Lit Chic: It's Raining (Mostly Unworthy) Men," review of Straight Talking, p. 98.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of Bookends, p. 515; July 1, 2003, review of Straight Talking, p. 875; April 1, 2004, review of To Have and to Hold, p. 286.
Kliatt, September, 2002, Sue Rosenzweig, review of Jemima J., p. 54.
Library Journal, March 1, 2000, review of Jemima J., p. S4; April 15, 2000, Nancy Pearl, review of Jemima J., p. 122; April 15, 2002, Amanda Glas-brenner, review of Bookends, p. 125; August, 2003, Karen Core, review of Straight Talking, p. 130; April 15, 2004, Core, review of To Have and to Hold, p. 124.
Newsweek, August 4, 2003, Peg Tyre, "Bridget Jones Grows Up: 'Mommy Lit' Takes a Wry, Irreverent Look at Motherhood," p. 52.
People, July 17, 2000, Jean Reynolds, review of Jemima J., p. 45; July 2, 2001, Joseph V. Tirella, review of Mr. Maybe, p. 37; June 17, 2002, Julie K. L. Dam, review of Bookends, p. 47; June 23, 2003, Lan N. Nguyen, review of Babyville, p. 43; October 13, 2003, Marisa Sandora Carr, review of Straight Talking, p. 52.
Publishers Weekly, April 10, 2000, review of Jemima J., p. 72; June 11, 2001, review of Mr. Maybe, p. 62; August 6, 2001, Daisy Maryles, "Another Brit Lit Hit," p. 19; August 20, 2001, John F. Baker, "Broadway Hot on Green," p. 17; May 6, 2002, review of Bookends, p. 33; June 9, 2003, review of Babyville, p. 37; July 7, 2003, Daisy Maryles and Dick Donahue, "Here, Chick, Chick, Chick (Behind the Bestsellers)," p. 16; July 21, 2003, review of Straight Talking, p. 173; March 1, 2004, review of To Have and to Hold, p. 46; May 31, 2004, Daisy Maryles, "Green's Holding."
Redbook, July, 2001, review of Mr. Maybe, p. G2.
Chick Lit USA, http://www.chicklit.us/ (July 22, 2004), interview with Jane Green.
Jane Green Home Page, http://www.janegreenbooks.com (July 22, 2004).*