The Blurb goes something like this:
“Jojo Harvey is a literary agent whose star is on the rise. In love with both her married boss and her burgeoning career, not much distracts her. Until she finds herself representing two women who used to be best friends. One of them, Gemma, has suddenly found herself from a broken home – at the age of thirty-two. Meanwhile, Lily – the woman Gemma has always blamed for stealing her one chance of happiness – is enjoying the overnight success of her debut novel. Set in the world of publishing, ‘The Other Side of the Story’ is about love, loyalty, glass ceilings and survival tactics – and what to do when you get your chance for revenge.”
But the book is something that cannot be summed up in a couple of measly lines. The Other Side of the Story MADE MY DAY! MY WEEK! Perhaps my YEAR!
As far as reading goes, the language was so earthy, so brutally honest and so… so… REAL I couldn’t stop laughing! The story is of three women caught in a web of bookmaking. Jojo is the buttoned-up, glamorous career woman who holds the careers of others in her hand. Hers, in turn, is held in the hands of her lover, the managing partner. Real things happen to this woman. Like guilt. Like the desire to shop when something big happens. Like talking to her favourite purse. Self sabotage. Jealousy. The desire to destroy a rival, the dilemma of choosing between career and love. Yet she is powerful. She grieves for five minutes and flies into action. She eats without dieting and cannot be small but is still considered by all around to be a total knockout. She really struck a chord in me. I GET Jojo.
And then there is Gemma, stuck in her only-child world with her parents going crazy in their late mid-life crisis. She has the patience of a saint – she doesn’t just slap her Mam – but she’s real too! And bitter. Frozen with bitterness. And who can blame her? She’s lost her dad to a woman four years her senior. AND she’s lost the love of her life to her best friend. I would be homicidal too! Her fantasies and her raging letters to her far away friend Susan made me laugh out loud. Men have been awful in her life and so she turns on them. With a whip. My favourite line by her is “fantasist heal thyself” and she uses them, each of her homicidal fantasies, to get to where she needs to go inside. She fantasizes Lily’s downfall and her dad’s unhappiness, her mom’s return to strength and her return to clarity. I TOTALLY get Gemma.
Then there is Lily. And like her name suggests, Lily is as yellow as they come. She’s a coward who cannot face her past but is constantly hounded by it. She DID get involved with her best friend’s love and she DID have a baby for him, and she DID have the audacity to be happy on the back of her best friend’s hurt. But she doesn’t have an assertive bone in her body. And despite all this somehow Marian manages to write her in a way that I can’t hate her! It must be her messy childhood. I don’t get Lily at all – no amount of guilt could put me in the quivering mess she finds herself in. But then again I’ve never stolen someone’s man and created happiness with him. I guess for a total wimp she’s ok. I know for sure she’s real – there are weak women like her everywhere you look. But unlike the rest of them Lily has talent. She can spin a yarn out of the sweet cotton-candy place in her head that I don’t get. And it sells. So good on Lily, the one character I had issues with.
This book has the backhanded educational value rolled in there too. Anton’s persistence in getting Lily’s book out there put a little steel in my neck and a little desire back in my pen. Jojo’s cut-throat world makes sense to me as a lawyer, but I would never have put it in the comfortable world of books and snuggling with a cup of tea. The ideas around the purpose of PR and the ethical battles of Lily’s reality really do give some insight into possibilities I hadn’t considered.
It made me miss London. I could smell the air, see the Selfridges entrance and Irina’s Clinique counter. I could see St. John’s Wood tube station and got actually quite homesick for my second home. It was like this book was made for me – London lover, recovering bitter avenging angel, career woman, conflicted romantic, and now pushing 30. It answered all my calls.
To read The Other Side of the Story truly put some fire into me on my last day of vacation. Back to work tomorrow and I’m inspired – to write, to work, to live, and to get past the ugly vengeance cloud and into the clear air of new possibilities.
Click link to buy. Thank me later.