Jane Green
The Official Home of New York Times Bestselling Author

The Sunshine Sisters – Available Now!

October 31st, 2016
I am completely thrilled to announce my new book, The Sunshine Sisters. I started this book last year, then abandoned it for a while, unsure of where it was going. Earlier this year I went back to it, pleasantly surprised at it being much better than I remembered. I rewrote what I had, and hunkered down, getting to know my characters.
I fell in love with this book. I loved every minute of writing it, and I wrote it in the way I used to write my novels – getting to know the characters, and letting them tell their own stories. The last time I fell in love with a group of characters like this, was when I was writing The Beach House.

Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood in the sixties to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters. Still, when Ronni discovers she has a serious illness, she calls her now-adult girls home to fulfill her final wishes.

Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy are all going through crises of their own. But as their mother’s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears, they discover that blood might be thicker than water after all.

And now I am delighted to reveal this beautiful cover. I am so excited to share it with you and can’t wait to hear what you think!  

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The Jane Green Shop on Amazon is Open For Business!

December 8th, 2017

Jane-Green-Lifestyle-parties-entertains-amazon-shop

Jane Green Launches a Store On Amazon

Amazon recently sent me an email saying that because they had targeted me as an Influencer, they were offering me a Jane Green shop on Amazon. All the people who write to me saying they love the style of my Westport home, Creaky Cottage, my kitchen, my parties, my pillows, can now find everything I love in my very own Amazon store.

Where Do You Get Your Glass Jars?

From my kitchen and Creaky Cottage, to the parties I throw, and even the way I decorate for the holidays, you can find most of the things I love in my Amazon store. From the dishes I use, to the glass storage jars that hold all my dry goods, to the soft, cozy touches that make Creaky Cottage a home, it’s all available in the Jane Green shop on Amazon! I’ve even got my favorite books, cookbooks, and the journals I use.

As many of you know, I am a big shopper. I love shoppJane-Green-kitchen-amazon-shop-glass-jars-storage-open-shelvesing, and more than shopping, I love a bargain. Sometimes I will spend outrageous amounts of money, but more often the thrill I get is from finding deals, and I have become something akin to a professional bargain hunter online. So whilst some of the items are expensive, most are affordable, and all will transform your house into a stylish, welcoming, cozy home.

Jane-Green-Holiday-Entertaining-Decorating-Amazon-ShopOh, reader! You have no idea how blissful the last twenty four hours has been! I have been up for two nights filling my shop with all the things I love most in the world. I’ve got books that I love, jars that I want, and almost everything that I have in my kitchen (plus everything I am doubtless about to own). I keep looking at the items in my shop, and it’s like looking at a style board for Creaky Cottage.

Jane Green Home

If you’ve written to me asking where I get my big glass kitchen jars, or my burlap tablecloths, or my accessories, you will find many of them in my shop.

Take a look at my Amazon shop here – I would love to hear what you think!

Jane-Green-Creaky-Cottage-home-house-amazon-store-shop

 

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The Gap In The Doors of The Loos is Not Nearly As Nice As New York

December 6th, 2017

I am very happy as an English woman living in America, and there are many things that are truly wonderful about this country (clue: but the loos aint one of them). When I moved here, having been brought up on a diet of American films and television shows, I presumed that everything in America was bigger, better, and glossier.

It’s true, some things are. New York, for example, remains one of the most vibrant cities in the world. The service industry here is truly an industry, and people leap to help (which is still something of a pleasure, seventeen years on). Hamburgers and pizza are excellent, as are chips (and when I say chips, I mean French fries, which are invariably better than anything I ate on the other side of the pond).

The roads are wide and easy to navigate, especially in California. Admittedly, the traffic is terrible, but with six huge lanes, who cares? Also, there are three million satellite radio channels to while away the hours you spend sitting in traffic, so it’s all rather enjoyable.

Speaking of cars, the cars are enormous, and luxurious! I’m sure the UK is catching up, but everyone here drives monster cars (including me), which aren’t really cars, they’re more like our own private universes.

But there are a few things that continue to puzzle me, even after seventeen years. You can’t find a decent cup of tea to save your life. Also, herbal tea does not count as tea, which should be PG Tips or Tetley’s, and come with copious amounts of milk and sugar. Americans also do not say please and thank you as much as we do, and often, I have noticed that instead of saying “you’re welcome”, or “it’s a pleasure,” they say, “uh huh”. Which is just odd. But the thing that worries me most, is the gap in the public loos.

All the bathroom stalls in this country seem to have not only gaps top and bottom (understandable, and not terrible – on cop shows they can always look underneath to see if someone has overdosed), but, and this is the bit that continues to bother me, they also have huge gaps on the side. THE SIDE. What are they thinking?

I’m not talking about a sliver through which daylight can shine, I’m talking, in many cases, about a good three quarters of an inch, which doesn’t sound like a lot, until you are minding your own business in what you assume is the privacy of your cubicle, and you find yourself making eye contact with someone standing by the sinks.

The people at Buzzfeed are also confused, and I don’t blame them.

I don’t understand it. There seems little point in even having a door. I always heave a sigh of relief when there’s a hook at the top and I’m wearing a drapey scarf that I can expertly drape to cover the gap.

Once upon a time, I was able to avoid public loos entirely. Now, as a middle-aged woman, I find it is not so easy. I shall just have to make sure I bring my scarves, and fill my bag with double-sided sellotape.

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Jane Green tells the story of the affair she didn’t have on The Moth

December 5th, 2017

Jane Green tells the story of being middle-aged, and having her head ever so slightly turned by a young, handsome author for The Moth on public radio. Will she be able to resist temptation or will she succumb, and what does her husband have to say about all of this…

Spoiler alert: she didn’t have an affair. But she did use the experience to inspire the novel, Tempting Fate.

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The Background of Promises to Keep; how cancer and friendship inspired this novel

December 5th, 2017

Listen to the background story that inspired the novel, Promises to Keep. The New York Times bestselling author wrote this momentous novel about a family coming together in the hardest of times for one unforgettable – and ultimately life-changing – year. Inspired by Jane Green’s real life and taking care of one of her best friends after she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, this is one of her most moving novels.

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A Bestselling Chick Lit Author Drives What?

November 28th, 2017

bestselling-chick-lit-author-Jane-Green-DrivesJust how swanky is the world of bestselling chick lit author, Jane Green?

This bestselling chick lit author has been driving a big old truck for over ten years, and it wasn’t new when I bought it. It is a Land Cruiser, which is the truck the Peace Corps drive all over Africa, because they are insanely reliable, and good for around four or five hundred thousand miles (by the way, I don’t really write chick lit anymore, but I am credited with originating a genre, so there it is…).
My car never lets me down, but recently, when I have been a passenger in new cars that friends have bought, I find myself ever so slightly pining for something a little fancier. Every now and then I think, hey, I’m a bestselling chick lit author! I want something swanky and posh! I want a car that has Bluetooth rather than a cassette deck! I want a car that connects to my iphone! I want a car that has auto pilot (I realize on some level I want Knight Rider)!

Would a Jaguar suit a bestselling chick lit author?

I decided it was time to treat myself, so I spent last Saturday at all the local car dealerships, thinking I deserved a luxury car. I started with a Porsche Macan (it felt like a cockpit). I moved on to an Audi, then a Range Rover. I threw in the Jaguar because it was right there, and corrected the salesman who kept calling it “JagWAR.” I said it wasn’t a “JagWAR”, it was a “JAG-ewe-er”, to which he said, essentially, when in America…
 
I decided not to argue, but frankly, it is not a JagWAR, and probably isn’t much of a JAG-ewe-er, it’s more of a Jag, but things were getting complicated, and I knew he wouldn’t understand about 80’s wide boys driving XJS’s in England, so I left it.
We spent the day driving these spectacular cars up and down the highway. They were fast! And light! And they connected with my iphone! They did things like flash lights if another car was coming too close to the side, and self-correct if you were distracted and veering off to one side.
They were all gorgeous, and I couldn’t decide what would suit me best. My favorite was the Range Rover, although I just kept feeling it was a bit too much of a status car for me. I am not one for flashy designer labels, and it felt a bit like the ultimate designer label.
At the end of the day, I climbed back in my trusty Land Cruiser. I rested my elbow on the rest in the middle, which is exactly the right height for me, and I plugged the cord that runs from the cassette into my iphone so I could play my music in the car. I drove home, and it was comfortable, and cozy, and the nicest drive of the day.
I’m not ready. I may think I deserve a new car, but I realize that not only do I not need one, I don’t even want one. I have at least two hundred and fifty thousand miles to go.
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Getting ready for Tom Perrotta as the first Jane Green Book Club Pick…

November 14th, 2017

Two more days to go until Tom Perrotta, author of Mrs Fletcher,tom-perrotta-jane-green-book-club joins the Jane Green Book Club for its inaugural book!

Tom Perrotta Joins The Jane Green Book Club!

Don’t forget, Tom Perrotta​ will be live on this facebook page: www.facebook.com/janegreenbookclub on Thursday November 16th at 8pm, EST, and you will be able to ask him questions then.

If you’re joining our book club and live chat by yourself, welcome, and all you have to do is log in to www.facebook.com/janegreenbookclub at 8pm EST on November 16th.

If you’re gathering friends to form a book club, or bringing an existing book club, we’ve put together a few guidelines on how to run your book club. Feel free to follow them, or abandon them completely! The important thing is you gather together good people, and have fun.

How Do I Run The Jane Green Book Club?

• We suggest you ask people to arrive at your home for your book club for 6.30 or 7pm, and bring their questions with them! Ensure you, as host, check your wifi connection beforehand. You will need a computer, laptop or ipad to join
the live chat with the author.
• 7pm – 8pm – Meet and greet in your home, and share your thoughts about the book with the group, and prepare questions.
• 8pm Log in to Facebook, and go to this page here:
https://www.facebook.com/janegreenbookclub/
• 8pm-9pm – Listen to Tom Perrotta talk about the book, and type in your questions. He may not be able to get to all of them, but will do his best.
• 9pm-10pm Continue talking about the book, with us online or amongst yourselves.

We hope you have a wonderful night, and can’t wait to hear about it. If you’re gathering friends, post photographs of your bookclub on instagram, twitter and facebook with the hashtags #janegreenbookclub #tomperrotta

Happy reading!

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Jane Green Book Club Launches in Westport, CT!

November 14th, 2017

We have officially kicked off the Jane Green Book Club with a party (and lots of wine!). Eighty women gathered together in Parker Mansion, in my home town of Westport, Connecticut, to toast this exciting new venture.

So why start a nationwide virtual book club? Because wherever we live, I think we are all going through the same thing…

When I first moved to suburbia, almost seventeen years ago, there were so many resources for the young yummy mommy. There were playgroups, and playdates, and meetings and classes. There were even mommy book clubs. I met my first friends here standing outside the doors of pre-school, waiting for the children to emerge. As time went by and our children went off to different schools, I saw those wonderful women less. Between working and raising those children, life got busier and busier, until suddenly those children are in high school and getting ready to leave, and my friends are nowhere to be found.

That last bit is not quite true, but what is true is that most of the women I know, myself included, are leading lives that are far more isolated than we ever expected. Age, stage, the busy-ness of life, and perhaps most of all, technology, have all contributed to a growing sense of loneliness. Many of us are hiding behind screens, iphones and ipads, instead of getting out and living life.

But My Life Is Too Busy To Join The Jane Green Book Club!

Someone once told me that after the age of forty, you can divide your life into three sections: family, friends, and work. But you can only ever successfully juggle two. For many of us, it is our friendships that get short shrift, even though as human beings, we need connection; we are built for connection; we long to connect.

Which is what the Jane Green Book Club is all about. Bringing women together over the love of a shared story, to share their own stories. It’s about community, connection, and looking after each other. All in the name of a good book. All you have to do to join is sign up by clicking the link on this page: Jane Green Book Club, and join us there on November 16th. You can join us by yourself, or – even better – invite some friends over and form a book club. We’ll all be reading the same book together!jane-green-book-club-kit-appetizers-food

How Does The Jane Green Book Club Work?

What makes the Jane Green Book Club different? Not only do we choose the book every month, but we also bring you the authors, live on Facebook video, so wherever you live, you can ask them your questions directly! During every book club, you can livestream the author and type your questions!

jane-green-book-club-party-meetingHere we have some pictures from our launch, from the wonderful women there (I wish I could share the incredible warmth that filled that room), to putting the kits together at my kitchen table, to the finished sample book club kit.

The book club kit will make the life of the busy woman easier – when you have 10-15 women coming over from book club and you have no time to shop, what could be better than coming home and finding a beautiful box filled with delicious goodies and treats, and some of my favorite things to make your home cozy and beautiful – a place where everyone feels good.

Do you know anyone who hosts a book club who might like one of these boxes? If so, tag them on the Jane Green Book Club page, underneath this same post!

Don’t forget, our first book club is 8pm (EST) live on the Jane Green Book Club Facebook page with Tom Perrotta who will be discussing his wonderful book (and our first book club choice), Mrs Fletcher! Like and follow the page to get all the updates, and sign up for the newsletter on that page to make sure you don’t miss anything!

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Lashes

November 4th, 2017

I was in the hairdresser recently when a buzz of excitement went around the room. There was a woman in there who had false eyelashes, that were magnetic. We all huddled around her chair as she demonstrated how these eyelashes worked – tiny magnets were attached, and she snapped them above and below her eyelash.

I thought it was the most genius thing I had ever seen, particularly because my own eyelashes are short and stumpy, and I have long dreamed of the kind of luscious long lashes that I could pay for if I could be bothered to have eyelash extensions, but I cannot.

(I did try them once. It took over an hour, was deeply boring, and then all the eyelashes on one eye fell off within a week. The lashes on the other eye stayed on for a month. It was a disaster).

I promptly went online, and bought a set of magnetic eyelashes, which arrived, in beautiful packaging, a few days later. I had a cursory practice in front of the bathroom mirror, and it was not only easy, my eyelashes looked fantastic!

Later that night, I set off for a party at a new neighbor’s home. We hadn’t met before. I was dressed casually, apart from my fabulous new eyelashes. I wore sunglasses on the way there, and when we arrived and I took off my sunglasses, my son squinted and said there appeared to be something wrong with my eye.

I ran straight into the loo to check, but they looked fine. Bear in mind I am no longer young. Bear in mind my eyesight is pretty appalling. Bear in mind the loo was lit by a candle only.

I had a lovely time. I met all sorts of neighbors I had never met before, and chatted exuberantly with everyone. I deemed it a huge success until I got back home, and saw, in the bright light of my own bathroom mirror, that one magnetic eyelash had been hanging off for the entire evening.

I was mortified. I am mortified. I don’t think I will ever be able to see these neighbors again. I have now ordered something called Lash Boost made by Rodan & Fields, which is a potion that you brush on to your eyelashes at night, which is supposed to make them grow.

Perhaps, if they grow long enough, my magnetic eyelashes will have something to attach to, and I may get some use out of them after all.

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Want these bookmarks? Giveaway below to celebrate the launch of the Jane Green Book Club.

The two things I love doing more than anything else, are reading, and cooking, and what better way to bring them together than in a book club.

I’m realizing how many women my age, whose children have grown and flown, are finding themselves increasingly isolated. We’re all hiding behind our computer screens and smartphones, most of us lonelier than we ever expected to be, so I’m on a miss

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Behaving Badly

October 29th, 2017

I am beginning to realize that this column is becoming something of a confessional for me. Whenever I behave badly, I find myself writing it down without thinking too much about it. I now think perhaps my column ought to be renamed something along the lines of “Misadventures of a Menopausal Woman.”

This week, I have mostly been behaving well. Apart from one teensy, weensy, minor slip. It is regatta season again, and I was in charge of the food at last week’s regatta. The weather was going to be beautiful, we were expecting a huge crowd, and I planned my menu accordingly.

Some of you may remember that last season, a rowing mother took me aside to complain bitterly that my pancakes tasted of onion. Onion pancakes have now become something of an in-joke at the rowing club, and because I am a menopausal woman and I seem to have lost the ability to let anything go, I decided to add onion pancakes to the menu. This time, intentionally.

I sautéed a bunch of sliced onions with garlic, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a little brown sugar. I cooled them, then stirred in ricotta cheese, and added the entire mixture to a pancake mix (1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 tablespoons sugar, ½ teasoon salt mixed together, add in a beaten egg, 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons melted butter. Stir until combined), with a heavy sprinkling of turmeric to turn them into a golden yellow. I fried them in olive oil, and they were fluffy, and spicy, and sweet, and utterly delicious.

Sadly, the woman who complained about the onion pancakes to begin with, wasn’t there, so I shall just have to make them again.

Onion pancakes aside, I was behaving quite well, and even managed to put up with the mansplaining. This is a very peculiar trope I have noticed in America – all men think they are expert grillmasters, even when they are terrible cooks, and understand nothing about seasoning, or indeed food. Some men I know truly are excellent grillmasters. My usual co-grillmaster who works with me when I do the regattas, is an extraordinarily gifted cook, who has taught me tremendous things about meat.

But there are a few men at this regatta who regularly elbow me out the way to take over the grill. They don’t actually say: “move over, l’il lady,” but I can hear them think it. One of them always lurks and comments on what I’m cooking with things like, “Oh, interesting. I never add salt to anything. I find most people don’t like salt.” I have taken to giving him withering stares in the hopes he will disappear.

This week, the mansplainers were up in arms over my grilled cheese sandwiches. Instead of butter on the outside, I used mayonnaise. Because it’s an emulsion, the oils in the mayonnaise stick to the food, and cause a Maillard reaction, turning the bread a rich golden brown. It works far better than butter, and you cannot taste the mayonnaise, but that was not good enough for the Mansplainers. They shook their heads in horror and muttered to each other about the mayo, as I felt my irritation rise.

I considered giving them a science lesson as every good menopausal woman should do, until I thought better of it. I had had my fun with the onion pancakes. It was time to call it a day.

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Kitchen Love

October 19th, 2017

Last week I got back from a college tour in California, and walked into my kitchen, having completely forgotten that we had renovated. Somehow the old kitchen with its ugly tile floor and falling-off cabinets had implanted itself in my head, and I walked in, momentarily delighted to see my kitchen again.

A couple of months on, this kitchen may be the best kitchen I have ever renovated, and I have renovated more than a few over the years. The Ilve Stove, aka The Sexy Beast, works just as beautifully as it looks, and I am back to cooking every night for the pack of kids (I have a bonus son for the next year, so we are back to five children at home. Long story. I shall save for another time).

I’ve even figured out how to use the French plate, although not without melting three plastic bottles and a packet of sea salt (that’s the problem with not using the French plate – it became an extra surface, and then I forgot it was on).

Every now and then I trawl the website of AJ Madison – the online store where I bought the Ilve – just to take a look at other stoves, to check I made the right decision, and I have yet to see anything more beautiful.

I have also learned the perils of a huge stainless steel counter when you have five cats, and have learned the easiest way to make that steel look as good as new. Johnson’s baby oil squeezed onto paper towel (not too much), shines the steel up beautifully. My wood-look tile and cabinets from Lowes are, if I do say so myself, genius. A tile floor with the number of bodies in this house, both four-legged and two-legged, is perhaps the most sensible decision I have ever made.

I am even training all the family to leave my beautiful Nantucket sink clean and empty, which is harder than it sounds. For some bizarre reason, everyone in my family goes through about four glasses of water each within the space of about two hours every evening, and each glass of water demands its own clean glass. The old glass is never put in the dishwasher, but left in the sink, and we are finally making some headway with the move towards the dishwasher.

Because we have had a garden filled with gorgeous flowers all summer, the vases on the island have been filled with fresh-cut flowers, although now we are heading into Autumn I am aiming to do something clever with white squash. I have no idea what it will be, only that I will doubtless be spending significant amounts of time on Pinterest for inspiration.

But mostly, the kitchen has done what it was supposed to, not just in terms of beauty, but in terms of gathering the people we love. The children no longer disappear up to their bedroom to do their homework alone after dinner, but sit around the kitchen table, working, and chatting, long into the evening. Friends have started dropping round again, and perch at the counter as I pour them a glass of rosé.

I said to Beloved at the beginning of the renovation, that once I had a new kitchen, I would be completely happy with the house and would never ask for anything again. So please don’t tell him that I am eyeing up the perfect spot for a sun room/dining room addition. Oh, and then there is the guest suite I’ve been thinking about adding above the garage…

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Beloved

October 13th, 2017

I have long said that the single most important factor for a loving relationship is kindness; putting your spouse before yourself, making sure that their comfort and happiness is of paramount importance.

Most of the time I am very good at looking after my spouse and being kind to him. And some of the time I am not. I am ashamed to say that our recent trip home from Iceland was me behaving my worst, and I am only telling this story publicly in the hopes that I will somehow absolve myself of guilt, because I can’t be alone in the way that I reacted.

Beloved, as some of you may know, surprised us all by showing up in Iceland (points! So many points!). Because it was last-minute, there were no economy tickets left, so he booked the only ticket available, which was first class. I, on the other hand, was in Premium Economy, which I had flown on the way out, and it was all rather comfortable and fine. I didn’t mind that Beloved was flying first class and I was not. In fact, when he offered me the seat, I decided that he had been working so hard of late, he should keep the seat; he deserved it. Of course, I would have preferred that we sit together, but I didn’t need the first class food, I had my books, and I was planning to sleep much of the ride.

As we were waiting by the gate, I noticed a very glamorous, attractive woman. She was about my age, with long hair, big sunglasses, and a wickedly cool fur-trimmed parka. She had the sort of look that I sometimes aspire to, a sort of effortless casual cool, that looks as if you have just rolled out of bed looking perfect.

We all got on the plane, and I discovered I was not in the good Premium Economy seats (which were the same as First Class, but without the food), but in the small economy seats with extra leg room. I looked across the heads at First Class, and there was my husband, standing in the first row of his section, next to the gorgeous woman from the gate. They were both laughing at something, and I watched as they sat down in their giant, comfy seats, their heads bobbing as they chatting animatedly.

A stewardess came and offered them champagne, and handed them menus for their meal. I know all this because I kept standing up, muttering furiously as I looked across the seats to see what was happening over there.

My husband was having far too good a time. Not only was he flying in comfort, he now had a gorgeous companion, and I am ashamed to say, I felt a deep wave of resentment wash over me. And so, I reverted to my very worst behavior. Despite the fact that there was a loo next to my seat, I decided to go to the loo at the front of first class.

And when I came out, I could see my husband and his new best friend looking at me, clearly waiting for me to say hello, but I carried on walking past them as if I didn’t know anyone in first class, let alone my traitor of a husband.

Beloved came back and offered to swap seats, which of course I couldn’t possibly do, far too ashamed of my bad behavior. I am slightly worried he may never surprise us again so I may have to set new ground rules – whatever class we are flying, we must all fly together. And no-one is allowed to sit next to someone spectacularly attractive unless they are prepared to ignore them for the whole flight.

On that note, I shall also attempt to put my big girl pants on and act my age, rather than my shoe size.

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Book Club?

October 13th, 2017

Many of you know that my passions have long been community, and connection. I worry that by the time we hit mid-life, when our children have grown and flown, we are all increasingly isolated, hidden behind our computer screens and phones, forgetting how to connect, even though that’s what we long for.

It’s the reason why I started a creative co-working office space in my home town of Westport, CT, and the reason why, a few years ago, I started an active group in that same town that is now up to almost four thousand members. 

Today, I am thrilled to announce the start of something special, combining community, connection, and the other thing I truly love…books.

Most of you on here are huge readers. Because there’s nothing better than discussing books you love with other smart women, I am enormously excited to be launching The Jane Green Book Club. Every month we will pick a book, and get together to discuss it. If we’re very lucky, we may even get the occasional author to join in.

If you really want to make the most of it, bring your book groups on board, or start a Jane Green book club yourself, joining in the fun. I’ll be posting recipes and ideas for what to serve, and the occasional live chat with our guest authors.

I can’t wait to announce our first book. I read it recently and completely loved it. To find out what it is, make sure you like the Jane Green Book Club Page so you’ll be the first to hear.

Tag your friends who are big readers underneath this post, and click on this link, and like the page: Jane Green Book Club

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Coffee WIthdrawal

October 4th, 2017

Every now and then I decide to give up caffeine, but it never lasts very long. Mostly because I am so extraordinarily healthy (mostly), that caffeine seems like the least harmful of all my vices, and so after a couple of weeks of mint tea (which is never the same), I start to think that life is too short, and go back to drinking my morning coffee, vowing not to give it up again.

Recently, my husband and I embarked on a three-month cleanse. In the past two months since we started, my husband has lost 20lbs and feels twenty years younger. I have lost almost nothing and feel exactly the same, apart from one significant difference: I am sleeping again.

I have not slept properly for years. I fall asleep quickly, but am always wide awake sometime between two and four, and am usually awake for hours, if not the rest of the night. The worst thing of all is that once I am resigned to being awake, I then reach for my phone, charging quietly on my nightstand, after which time all bets are off. I never thought you could spend hours on Facebook. What do all these people DO, I had wondered, hearing friends complain that they were wasting hours a day scrolling through their news feeds, until my middle-of-the-night sessions when I have found myself scrolling, sometimes until daybreak.

The cleanse we are on involves giving up all the usual things; essentially, anything delicious that makes life worthwhile. Sugar, carbs, dairy, legumes, alcohol, and caffeine. Some of it has been very easy for me. I haven’t really eaten a lot of dairy for years, so that hasn’t been a problem. Alcohol triggers my migraines, so I don’t drink. I thought sugar would be a hard one, but after a couple of weeks, I stopped thinking about it.

The one I was really going to miss, was caffeine, and because I decided to commit to this completely, I knew I had to stick to it. Along with the caffeine, I had decided to leave my iphone downstairs when I went up to bed. I wanted to get into bed and read, without having to put the book down every few minutes to check if something momentous had happened on social media since I last looked. I wanted to see what happens if I woke up at 2am, and didn’t automatically reach for my phone. I wanted to see if Beloved and I talked more, if neither of us were buried in our screens.

At this point, I have to say I am not someone who drinks a lot of coffee. Two cups perhaps, always in the morning, before 11am. I did not think for a second that it would affect my sleep. I do love a cup of tea, but only in winter, or I have a case of the blues. Not for a second did I believe giving up caffeine would affect my sleep.

How wrong I was. Once I get into bed, I have barely been able to read, because within three pages I am so sleepy, I have to switch off the light and close my eyes, after which point, I sleep like a baby. I still wake up at 2am, but now I am fast asleep again within minutes of getting back from the bathroom, with no phone to distract me and wake me up. When I awaken it is daylight, and rather than being 5am, it is usually 7am, and sometimes later. And Beloved and I talk! Yes! We actually talk!

I still miss my morning coffee. This cleanse is over in a couple of weeks, and there is much that I plan to continue. My life is much easier without sugar, and I feel better without flour. I would love to re-introduce coffee as my only sin, but I’m sleeping too well to even consider it, so shall spend this time trying very hard to develop a passion for mint tea.

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The Large Hat

September 27th, 2017

When I was a very small child at junior school, I would often wrap my scarf around my entire head, and wander around the playground. Yes, clearly this was a little bizarre. I remember feeling completely safe, as if I was invisible, tucked up in my own little world.

I had the same feeling on the rare occasions we would have thick, pea soup fog in London. I had a long walk to the bus stop, and I remember very clearly walking through the fog, unable to see more than two feet in front of me, loving the isolation and peace, the feeling of being invisible.

This summer, I have discovered that a very large hat, with a downturned brim, gives me much the same feeling. Also, it is far more socially acceptable than wandering around with a scarf over my face, peering out through the tiny holes in between stitches in the wool.

For an introvert like myself, the discovery of a big hat may be life-changing. If I could have a superpower, it would undoubtedly be invisibility. Not for eavesdropping on people’s conversations – if I ever have the misfortune of overhearing someone talking about me, I scarper as quickly as I can, firmly of the belief that you are unlilkely to hear anything you will want to hear when you are eavesdropping – but for the feeling of privacy it allows.

I walked the beach yesterday with a giant hat on, the brim pulled low, so I could see everyone’s feet as they approached, but nothing more. And they could see a woman, with a giant hat on, so no-one (presumably) knew it was me.

There are days when I am quite sure I am an extroverted introvert. The truth is, I love people, and I am very happy in a crowd of people, as long as it is a crowd of people I have chosen for myself. I do not particularly like small talk, but I have a horror of running out of conversation, and so, should I find myself in an awkward conversation with a stranger, I have learned to fill silences with lots and lots of questions, and generally people are happy to open up and tell you about themselves.

There are days when I will gladly go to parties and chat, but there are other days when I would rather stick pens in my eyes than walk into a room filled with people I do not know. There are days when I do not want to see anyone, and I do not want anyone to see me, and although I do sometimes spend these days hiding at home, sometimes I need to be out in the world, even though I wish I wasn’t.

A very big hat is clearly the perfect solution to the days when the introversion gets the better of me, and I promise not to wrap a scarf around as well, unless snow is on the ground!

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Spa Treatment

September 8th, 2017

I am notoriously bad at booking things. Part of the problem is that I do things very quickly, and don’t have the patience to study the details. Invariably I am disappointed that things are not what I expect.

I also have an assistant who is very, very similar to me. This is why I completely adore her, but we are both disastrous at things like booking travel. I just want to get it done, as does she, and neither of us ever realize how long and complicated things can be, until I am actually on the road.

Eldest daughter was desperate for a spa day once we got to Lithuania, so I decided to treat the two girls, and my husband and myself. I am not good at spa days. I am spectacularly low-maintenance when it comes to looking after myself. It’s all I can do to get myself to a hairdresser a couple of times a year, let alone do things like facials and massages. It just isn’t in my DNA, but I decided to splurge.

I have no idea what I googled, but I came up with an amazing looking resort, just outside of Vilnius, that looked more like it belonged in Fiji than in Lithuania. It had Tiki huts on stilts on a lake, and was offering spa days that included massage, facials, steam room, saunas. And all for a ridiculously bargain price. I immediately booked four spa days, congratulating myself on my find.

Vilnius is very beautiful, particularly the old town. The taxi picked us up and wound us through town, before taking us to the countryside, which is rather grey and dismal. About twenty minutes later we pulled into a long driveway, at the end of which stood our resort.

I can’t say the pictures didn’t do it justice, because I’m not sure there were pictures of the front of the resort. It was very…. Well. I’m not too sure I can find the right words. It was huge, and empty. There was lots of orange wood that had been lacquered in high gloss, and slightly musty sage green carpets.

The spa was in the bowels of the hotel, and was empty, save for a woman with a hoover in the ladies changing room, which was vast, and marble, and smelled dank, as if it hadn’t been used for years.

It felt like a relic from Communist Russia. Our two girls looked at me, wide-eyed. We changed into threadbare robes, then made our way upstairs, to a few sunloungers outside. The sun-loungers were in a bed of weeds, at which point, I got the giggles.

“See?” I said to Beloved, who frequently says I was rather grand when we met. “You’ve knocked all the princess out of me.”
“And you’ve now gone lower than I ever would,” he responded, with a grin, at which point I looked around at the weeds, and became vaguely hysterical – I started laughing so hard, I was doubled over in pain.

“Can we, er, bounce?” said eldest daughter. As a famous newspaper used to often say, we made our excuses and left. And I have now been told that I am never to be put in charge of spa treatments again.

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Lost Luggage

September 8th, 2017

Years ago I saw a George Clooney movie called Up In the Air, in which he played a traveller so seasoned, he never ever checked his bag. Since that time, I have lived my life in a Clooneyesque manner, never ever checking my bag. It doesn’t matter where I travel, nor for how long, I manage to fit everything into my carry-on.

I have always been something of a light packer. My most important item has always been my hairdryer. I once travelled Europe with a backpack the size of the one my children take to school every day. It contained a handful of T-shirts and clean knickers, and a very large powerful hairdryer.

But my recent trip to Sweden, Iceland and Lithuania proved to be more challenging. Sweden required city clothes, and Iceland, layers of warm clothing including hiking boots and rainproof jackets. Lithuania was going to be hot again, and I had cocktail parties and perhaps dinner with other people, so needed something vaguely nice.

In other words, there was no way in hell I was going to be sticking to carry on. It was just this once, I figured; what could possibly happen?

I remembered we had an enormous suitcase in the basement, which I dragged out, and proceeded to fill to the brim. It was so full, it was groaning. I wasn’t sure it would make it without splitting.

The suitcase did very well in Stockholm, and Iceland, but sadly Scandinavian Airlines lost it somewhere between Iceland and Lithuania. Three of our suitcases went missing, and there was no-one to help us, nor answer our increasingly desperate plea.

After a couple of days, we learned our suitcases had been sent to Poland. We weren’t sure why, but it was quite clear it was going to be a while until we would be reunited.

And so I hit the shopping mall next to our hotel in Vilnius. Oh dear. This was not the smart shopping mall, this was the one filled with multi-colored polyester kaftans. Reader, I really tried. I am firmly of the belief that if you have a good eye, you can always find something good, and I very much believe that I have a good eye, but I couldn’t do it. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make the green and orange floaty nylon top work.

Eventually we discovered another shopping center. By this time we were all starting to smell, and drastic measures were needed. There was an H & M, which we all pounced on with glee. By this time, I was fed up, and tired, and not in the mood to try anything on. I gathered a handful of T-shirts, a pair of jeans, and on the way out, in a slightly dodgy shoe store, found some sandals that seemed the height of fashion in Lithuania, plus enough make-up to ensure I felt like me. Back at the hotel I discovered that nothing looked very good, but by then I was determined to make-do.

Our luggage arrived after four days. I have never been so happy to see my hairdryer, and my clothes. I celebrated with a hair wash, and I have decided that no matter the circumstances, I will never, ever be checking luggage again.

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Finding Friends

August 17th, 2017

A few months ago my whole family discovered something brilliant on our iphones – an app called Find my Friends. I added all my children, and Beloved, and they did the same to me.

This is particularly brilliant for me at this stage of life because of the following scenario which occurred multiple times during any given week. What are you doing this morning, I will ask Beloved, on a Sunday morning. He will say words, and I will respond by making approving noises or telling him to have a good time, and a few minutes later I will ask him again what he is doing this morning. He will look at me in disbelief, and then say more words, that may or may not be the same as the words he said before, and I will nod approvingly and pretend that I am listening, and two hours later, when I realize he is nowhere to be found, I will send him an angry text asking where the hell he is.

He will then tell me that he has told me repeatedly where he is going, and I will deny it furiously, with every fibre of my being, convinced that he has not told me, and that he is in fact gas-lighting me by making me feel completely crazy. I will not, for one second, ever, admit that a lot of the time I do not listen to him. I will not, for one second, ever, admit that there is so much going on in my head all of the time, that even if I am looking at people, smiling, and nodding, the chances are that in my head I am thinking about something completely different.

I blame ADD. Which is besides the point. Since adding Beloved to Find my Friends, rather than send him furious texts or phone him demanding to know where he is, I click on the link and see that he is at the gym. Oh yes, I think, now I remember him telling me that. Or I see that he is in a neighboring town. Ah yes, think I, I do vaguely recall him mentioning lunch with a business colleague who lives over there.

Find my Friends has done wonders for our relationship. He no longer things he is married to an angry crazy woman with early-onset dementia, and I no longer find myself despairing over where my husband disappears to. Although, he still disappears. I’m just going out to get some groceries, he will say, and three hours later I will track him on Find my Friends and discover he is at the boatyard, discussing outboard motors for the Boston Whaler.

Beloved also knows where I am all the time. Thankfully, I have nothing to hide, but my goodness, I have no idea how people conduct affairs with all the apps and texts popping up on your screen all the time. I have heard of people who are unfaithful having second phones, but I have a hard enough time keeping track of one phone, let alone two (never mind the fact that I am hopeless at secrets not to mention very happy in my marriage).

I am also busy tracking my children, but I am very careful to pretend that I am not in case they should decide to remove me. I phone them all the time asking where they are, when I can see perfectly well they are at the beach, or at a friend’s house.

Somewhat worryingly I have found myself attempting to track my friends when they are late. I have gone as far as opening the app, wondering where Sophie is, or whether Nicole is on her way, or is Dani back home. And then I remember, this is for family only.

I’d very much like it for my friends, but I think it’s epically stalker-y, and so I will keep on wondering where they are, and I will keep sending texts, having forgotten entirely that they have already told me they are on holiday for two weeks. Hopefully, because they are all women of a certain age, rather than think I am losing my mind, they will know exactly what it’s like.

In the meantime, I’m off to check what Twin B is up to today…

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The Love of the Hotel

August 17th, 2017

A few weeks ago I was invited to a rather swanky literary dinner at a hotel called The Gramercy Park, in Manhattan. It was to be filled with the great and the good, and not only was I excited for the dinner (and utterly thrilled to have been invited), I couldn’t wait to go back to the Gramercy Park hotel.

The last time I went to the Gramercy Park hotel was in 1996. I had decided to write a modern take on the Cinderella story called Jemima J. I had booked an extended stay in Los Angeles to do the research, and was spending a week beforehand in New York with a girlfriend. We were going just after Christmas, with plans to be in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Both of us were young single girls, with little money. We were doing New York on a shoestring, and had booked into a terrible hotel near Times Square with stained furniture and dirty sheets. We lasted one night, before deciding that squalor was not what we had in mind for this trip, and I would use some of my new book advance to upgrade.

Have you ever tried getting a hotel room in New York at Christmas time? We spent hours desperately trying to find a hotel, and the only thing we could find was a suite at the Gramercy Park Hotel.

A suite! It sounded so grand! We discovered the Gramercy Park had hosted The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and The Beatles. U2 had lived there, as had Debbie Harry of Blondie. This was clearly the epitome of cool, and we had to stay there.

The hotel faces a pretty private park, in a lovely neighborhood. I caught my breath as we got out the taxi, and walked in to the hotel, past the dark wood-panelled bar, and exhaled again in vague disappointment when we were taken up to our suite. I remember the carpet being impossibly worn and shabby, in an unflattering shade of green. The hotel was dated and dingy, with an old and fabulous bar filled with New York characters, and we felt incredibly cool staying there.

We were there for a week, and over the final weekend, I fell slightly in love. A friend of a friend was in New York at the same time, and my girlfriend and I spent the day with him. We came back to the suite, and while she was in the bathroom, he kissed me.

We spent the next two days together, as characters in a Nora Ephron romantic chick-flick, circa 1996. It snowed as we held hands walking down Park Avenue. We had snowfights in Central Park then drank hot chocolate in a storied bar. We went up the Empire State Building, before I left for Los Angeles, itching to get back home to London, to see whether this new romance might turn into something more.

So here I am twenty one years later, a married mother, living in Connecticut, standing outside the hotel that truly epitomized my single girl adventures, and it is almost unrecognizable. A few years ago it was transformed into a sleek, stylish, trendy hotel.

The hotel is now beautiful. The party was wonderful, and the food, delicious. I spent the evening looking over my shoulder expecting to see the ghost of the love-struck girl I once was, but she, along with the shabby green carpet, had long since disappeared.

And whilst I loved everything about the evening, and whilst I am so happy and grateful for the way my life has gone and the woman I am now, I have to confess I had a few moments of yearning for just a touch of the hotel I used to know.

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4th of July

August 8th, 2017

July 4th is a very big holiday on this side of the pond. On American Independence Day we fly the flag proudly (the American one), gather with our friends and neighbors and celebrate with a barbeque, and tables filled with disgusting desserts turned red, white and blue with food coloring.

In our neighborhood, there are fireworks at the beach every year, and parties at almost all of the houses. Guests spill from the front yards across the road – closed for the day – and onto the beach. In the old days, when I lived on the other side of town, we braved the traffic to come down to the beach, with a twenty minute drive taking up to an hour. In the past I have assigned the driving to someone else, jumping out of the car and stopping at various people’s houses for glasses of wine on my way down to the beach.

The mood is celebratory, and fun. At the beach, when the children were small, we would set up picnics, and bump into everyone we had ever met. It was social, and happy, and one of my most favorite holidays.

It was crowded, but not too crowded. I have never been good with crowds. I once spent New Year’s Eve watching the ball drop in New Orleans, and as the crowd closed in on me, I had my one and only panic attack. Now I tend to avoid crowds wherever possible, even in my home town.

As the years have gone by I have become more introverted, and the beach has become busier. This year traffic was so bad, one friend drove to our house from her own, fifteen minutes away, and she sat in traffic for almost three hours. It was back-to-back traffic for miles, and the beach was so packed with people, you couldn’t see any sand. In the back, was an area for standing, and hundreds of people were crammed in there, sardine-style, for the firework display. Twin A returned from the beach saying there were so many people there this year, it was utter hell.

Happily for us, we live on a little private street just off the main beach area. We can cross the street to a private beach with a spectacular view of the fireworks, thereby avoiding the crowds entirely. We decided to eat at home with friends, then perhaps wander the beach when it got dark to experience some of the magic.

I made the obligatory barbeque food. For the first time I succumbed to one of those disgustingly decadent desserts, making brown butter Rice Krispie treats with a salted chocolate topping. I alternated spooning the stuff into the pan to set, and into my mouth. Once I had started, I didn’t seem able to stop. We ate smashburgers on pretzel rolls, and hot dogs with sauerkraut. We served corn on the cob and tomato salad. I had no room for the kale and grapefruit salad. Unsurprisingly I often find I have little room for kale.

By the time we thought about strolling along the beach, my stomach was so full, it was actually painful, and a headache was forming. I excused myself, went to bed and had Beloved bring me a mug of mint tea. Outside, I could hear our friends laughing softly, as I snuggled down, drank my tea, and drifted into sleep. All in all, it was about the most perfect July 4th I could ever have imagined. And not once did I have to brave the crowds.

Ends.

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Book Tour

July 27th, 2017

Something strange is happening on book tour this year. It used to be that after I had given a talk and read from my book, I would sit behind a small table, and sign books. The line tended to move quickly, some people having questions that took a little longer, but I signed, made small talk, and left feeling much the same way as I did when I walked in.

Now that we all travel with permanent cameras built into our phones, everyone in that line asks for a picture. For the past couple of events this year, I bounced up and down from my signing table like a jack-in-the-box for pictures to be taken. It was fun, and tiring.

Recently I had an event in Cincinnati. I could tell instantly that this was a room of devoted readers. Mostly because they laughed uproariously at all my jokes, and audibly sighed with pleasure when I mentioned some of my older novels.

It was a wonderful talk. Afterwards I went to my signing table and the first two women came up, iPhones clutched in their hand. I stood up for the photos, sat back down again, stood up, sat down, stood up, and realized (clearly I am a little slow) that this would be much easier if I stayed standing.

I moved from behind the table to in front, and the strangest, and loveliest thing happened. After each picture, every single woman gave me a huge hug.

Now I know this happens to some authors. Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Love Warrior, turns all her events into love-filled hug-fests. I have also seen videos where she sits on the laps of her fans and cuddles them. Please know that this will not be happening at my events. Glennon is teeny tiny. If I were to sit on your lap, I may very well flatten you. The hugs, however, I will gladly take.

My boring old book signing turned into a glorious love fest, and my heart felt like it was going to explode by the end. This is only strange because my mother’s childhood nickname for me was “touch-me-not”. I never liked being touched, by strangers or anyone else, but as I have grown older, I seem to have completely shed that outer protective layer I carried for so long, and now there is nothing I love quite so much as a hug. Especially from a stranger on book tour.

I am fascinated by how I am changing as I am ageing, as I shed the insecurities, the fears, the need to impress or try to be good enough. I feel like I am finally Becoming Jane: more comfortable in my skin, more myself than ever before. And it is precisely by showing those vulnerabilities that enables me to connect with my readers in the way that I do, that ends up in a hug.

And so I have decided that for my solo events, I am never going to sit behind a signing table again. I am going to be standing in front, dispensing signatures, photographs, and many, many hugs.

(Picture is with the delicious Emma Straub, who is not only extremely huggable but the author of the brilliant Modern Lovers, and now bookseller extraordinaire at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn.)

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Jane Green

Jane Green's fifteenth novel, Tempting Fate, is soon to be released; she is the author of fourteen previous New York Times Bestselling novels.

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