cover image The Editor

The Editor

Steven Rowley. Putnam, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-525-53796-0

Rowley follows his debut, Lily and the Octopus, with a poignant tale of a new author’s breakout hit in the early 1990s under the guidance of one of publishing’s most high-profile editors, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The story opens with a slick snippet of writer James Smale’s first novel, The Quarantine, and how his fictionalized account of his fiercely devoted mother—and the heart-wrenching choices she made to protect him from a stern and distant father—catches the eye of Jackie. “The hardest thing to dramatize, without being cliché, is the love a mother has for her children,” Jackie tells James. Working together in New York—where the former first lady pulls out a bottle of rum from her desk to mix daiquiris—and at her home in Martha’s Vineyard, Jackie encourages James to remove his self-imposed “shackles” that protect his mother rather than tell her story. But during a disastrous family Thanksgiving gathering, James, who believes his homosexuality is was what drove his parents apart, discovers the dark secret his mother has kept from him. Rowley deliberately mines the sentiment of the mother/son bond, but skillfully saves it from sentimentality; this is a winning dissection of family, forgiveness, and fame. [em](Apr.) [/em]