Picks and Pans Review: Jemima J

updated 07/17/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/17/2000 01:00AM

by Jane Green

A 1996 runaway bestseller in Britain and later in the U.S., Bridget Jones's Diary has spawned a veritable genre of breezy, comic novels about the romantic and personal struggles of young single women. And Jemima Jones, heroine of Green's U.S. debut novel, might easily be taken for Bridget's overweight sister.

A London journalist, Jemima feels trapped writing a household-tips column for a grubby, down-market London newspaper. And though smart and funny, she weighs nearly 100 lbs. more than she would like to. She secretly adores Ben, her Hugh Grant lookalike colleague, but he doesn't see her as girlfriend material.

Jemima's life undergoes a seismic shift, however, when she points and clicks her way into an online romance with Brad, a California fitness guru, reinventing herself as J.J., a buff, long-haired TV host, simply by morphing her face onto a fashion model's body and e-mailing the results to Brad. Now all she has to do is starve off 100 lbs. before meeting him.

Like Diary, this sparkler from British journalist-turned-novelist Green (who confesses to being a veteran of yo-yo dieting herself) was also a bestseller in the U.K. It conveys with sass and humor both the invisibility of the overweight and the shallow perks that accrue to the thin and beautiful. Green has entertainingly updated the Cinderella story, though Jemima finds that even in the vastness of cyberspace, a charming prince is hard to find. (Broadway, $20)

Bottom Line: Sweet and tasty

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