Mendle, Jane 1976(?)–
Mendle, Jane 1976(?)–
CAREER: Writer and psychotherapist. Mary Ainsworth Psychological Clinic, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, psychotherapist, 2002–; University of Virginia Hospital, neurology department, Charlottesville, neuropsychological tester, 2003–. Worked in film and publishing industries in New York, NY.
Kissing in Technicolor (novel), Avon Trade (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Psychotherapist and novelist Jane Mendle undertakes academic research interests involving behavior genetics and related issues of how genetic make-up influences a variety of human behaviors. She has conducted neuropsychological testing for clients since 2003, and has been a psychotherapist for university and community clients since 2002. She has also presented papers at a variety of conferences around the country.
Kissing in Technicolor is Mendle's debut novel. She sold the book based on a partial manuscript, which was important given her then-status as a busy graduate student. "As a grad student, it would have been very difficult to justify the amount of time necessary for writing a novel if I hadn't known it was going to be published," Mendle said in an interview on the ChickLitBooks Web site. "Because I was so thrilled to have sold a novel, the entire writing process was charged with a certain exuberance."
Mendle does not mind having her book classified as "Chick Lit." Although Chick Lit expanded quickly as a genre, resulting in a lot of bad books being published along with the good, Mendle believes that the genre will correct its own mistakes and "will revise itself in a more permanent way," she said in her ChickLit Books interview. She also finds a definite literary ancestor of the genre: "I also believe (snooty critics, listen up!) that chick lit is not a new phenomenon, but rather traces its roots to Jane Austen. There's a focus on dialogue, particularly women talking to each other, traumas of everyday life, and characters who are intelligent, interesting, independent, single, and often a little bit older than prime marriageable age."
The result of Mendle's efforts is a novel that "adds intelligence to the genre," commented Clarissa Cruz and Leah Greenblatt in Entertainment Weekly. Charlotte "Charlie" Frost is an intelligent, motivated graduate film student in at Columbia University, but is a washout in the romance department. Her few lackluster dates have mostly been with her thesis advisor. A protégé of famed director Horton Lear, she hopes Lear will like her character-driven script about a lesbian love triangle. When Lear makes the painful decision to reject Charlie's most recent script, she sees her chances at a film fellowship slipping away. Meanwhile, teaching her yoga class on Manhattan's Upper West Side, Charlie meets a devastatingly gorgeous man. He turns out to be Hank Destin, a rugged soap-opera star. Soon the two start dating, though Charlie is bewildered by the increased attention being the girlfriend of a soap star brings her.
Even Hank cannot compete with her passion for making movies, however, and soon Charlie is back at work on a new film project, a low-budget but high-pretension remake of Madame Bovary. Against her advisor's better judgment, Charlie asks Hank to star in the production, and he agrees. At first delighted at the prospect of having her hunky boyfriend as part of her project, Charlie begins to regret her decision to involve Hank when he becomes temperamental and bossy, criticizing her directing and jeopardizing the movie. Charlie wonders if their relationship can withstand the strain, but she soon realizes that some dreams are more important that the pursuit of glamour.
Booklist contributor Aleksandra Kostovski remarked that Mendle's characters stand out as "more interesting and multidimensional than most chick-lit offerings," that the book's plot "isn't predictable," and that her "snappy dialogue" is ready for showtime in a romantic comedy. Mendle "humorously and sympathetically captures the outsize ambitions and insecurities of young actors and directors," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2004, Aleksandra Kostovski, review of Kissing in Technicolor, p. 209.
Cavalier Daily, October 27, 2004, Jehan Mondal, "Not Another Romance Novel," profile of Jane Mendle.
C-Ville Weekly (Charlottesville, VA), "Metro Sexual," profile of Jane Mendle.
Entertainment Weekly, November 26, 2004, "Chick Lit 101: My Shame Is True," review of Kissing in Technicolor, p. 123.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of Kissing in Technicolor, p. 828.
Publishers Weekly, October 4, 2004, review of Kissing in Technicolor, p. 69.
ChickLitBooks, http://www.chicklitbooks.com/ (September 3, 2005), interview with Jane Mendle.
Jane Mendle Home Page, http://www.janemendle.com (September 3, 2005).