The Editor by Steven Rowley

The Editor cover

The Editor is a bittersweet novel about a writer working through his relationship with his mother whilst completing his first book with a very famous editor. James is a struggling writer who lives in NYC with his boyfriend. When he gets a call that an editor wants his novel, he doesn’t expect it to be Jackie Kennedy—Mrs Onassis—or that this will spark off not only a chance to work on his autobiography novel about his family, but face up to his mother and discover a long-kept secret.

Written in a similar charming style to Rowley’s Lily and the Octopus (and with a similarly hapless narrator), this is an engrossing and funny novel that doesn’t feel as self-indulgent as some books about writers can. Instead, it focuses on how sometimes you need an outsider to push you towards familial reconciliation, and how an unexpected connection with someone so famous could affect you on a personal level. James is a likeable yet flawed narrator, sometimes self-obsessed and always unable to take compliments, and Rowley’s fictionalised version of Jackie Kennedy Onassis near the end of her life is an interesting portrait (particularly as someone who knew nothing about her real publishing career).

The Editor is a charming book that shows how famous figures can be inserted into a fictional narrative in a stylish and purposeful way. Fans of Rowley’s first novel will enjoy it, as well as anyone interested in funny yet emotional looks at mother-child relationships.