Friday, August 17, 2012

45. Jemima J. by Jane Green

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 life is in need of a serious change. When she meets Brad, an eligible California hunk, over the Internet, she has the perfect opportunity to reinvent herself-as JJ, the slim, beautiful, gym-obsessed glamour girl. But when her long-distance Romeo demands that they meet, she must conquer her food addiction to become the bone-thin model of her e-mails-no small feat. 
With a fast-paced plot that never quits and a surprise ending no reader will see coming, Jemima J is the chronicle of one woman''s quest to become the woman she''s always wanted to be, learning along the way a host of lessons about attraction, addiction, the meaning of true love, and, ultimately, who she really is.

*possible spoilers (if you look hard)
I had read this novel  in 2001 or so and had very fond memories of it.  It was my introduction to author Jane Green , who has become one of my go-to authors..sort of like comfort food for rainy days.  Revisiting it this week, I found myself surprised at how dated certain aspects were: the introduction of the internet, mention of celebrity couples Tom Cruse and Nicole Kidman  and Demi Moore and Bruce Willis as a happily married ideals, and the detailed descriptions on fashions (now outdated, even in text). 
I also noticed in this reading, the use of a voice-over narrator that had been forgotten since my last visit.  I couldn't decide if it was quirky in a soap opera way - the author talking to the reader in between first person narration by the two main characters, or annoying in that same soap opera way.
These two points aside, I still enjoyed the story.  I find my perception has changed over the years as well.  During my first reading ten years ago, I identified greatly with Jemima  and cheered her on at every turn.  This time around, my cheers were interspersed with flashes of reason and logic regarding her weight-loss regime and her evolving self-image.  On the surface  the changes she made were great fodder for the genre but I found myself impatient for Jemima to reach her epiphanies and find her equilibrium in the world.  The ending still held the satisfaction I was seeking, although this time around it felt short as I found I wanted more details between the last chapter and the epilogue.
Ten years later the heart of this book  held up for me.  I wonder how I will view it in another five or ten years?

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