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Chick Lit for the Good Girl

7/29/2007 - 7:00 AM PST

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Chick Lit for the Good Girl
Book Spotlight: The Book of Jane
By Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
Reviewed by Lisa M. Hendey

Broadway Books, June 2007, paperback, 304 pages
ISBN-10: 0767926552
ISBN-13: 978-0767926553

Your chance to win! Publisher Broadway Books has generously offered several promotional copies of this book for our readers. To enter to win, simply send an email with the subject line “The Book of Jane Contest” to lisa@catholicmom.com by August 31. Please be sure to include your full name and mailing address. Winners will be selected by random drawing and will be notified by email on September 1.

Chick lit based on the Old Testament character Job? Who comes up with an idea like this? The answer is writing partners and cool chicks Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt. The Book of Jane is the duo’s third outing into the world of “Good Girl Lit”, a squeaky clean take on the popular women’s genre.

The thing is, it works. I’ve been known to pick up a chick lit book from time to time, guiltily turning a blind eye to the “adult themes” that run so rampant in these tomes. But I’d much rather just read good, clean, fun fiction. This is where Dayton and Vanderbilt come in. The Book of Jane is a great book about a young woman named Jane Williams who seems to have the world by the tail. She has the perfect career, the perfect Manhattan apartment, and the perfect boyfriend. She’s also a faith-filled person who wears her values on her sleeve. But the thing is, Jane’s faith has never truly been tested. Sure, it’s easy to profess a profound belief when everything is going according to her perfectly scheduled agenda for life. But will the same hold true when the wheels start to fall off the cart? Who among us hasn’t faced this same dilemma? It’s easy to say we are believers when life is smooth sailing, but when the going gets tough we may begin to question whether or not our loving God is paying attention to our prayers.

The Book of Jane is a page turner from start to finish. With a non-denominational approach to religion, the book will appeal to women of any faith background. I loved the book’s message about searching for what you truly want in life – it turns out that sometimes what seems “perfect” on the surface is not really what’s best after all. Finding the strength to emerge through life’s myriad challenges seems easier if you have a solid relationship with God to help you through. Sometimes you have to step away from what may be considered the safest path in order to find satisfaction in this life. So often, the greatest happiness comes in being of service to others.

I’m pleased to share the following interview with Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt, authors of The Book of Jane.

Q: Please briefly introduce yourselves to our readers.

Hi! We're Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt. We write fun, frothy fiction with a Christian world view. Our books are modern-day re-tellings of classic Bible stories. Our first book, Emily Ever After, is the story of Esther. Our second book, Consider Lily, is the story of Samson and Delilah. And our third book, The Book of Jane, is the story of Job.

Anne Dayton lives in New York, where she is an editor full-time and goes to grad school part-time. May Vanderbilt moved from New York to San Francisco a year ago and is now a writer for an Internet company. We met when we both worked together at a publishing company.

Q: How does the process of writing as a team work for you logistically, with the two of you living in different cities? What are some of the advantages of writing collaboratively?

Anne: Now that we live on opposite coasts, it is a bit more difficult to write together than when we worked together. Luckily, we have a great foundation to build upon. We were friends and writing partners for several years in New York before May moved to California.

May: But our method is quite simple. We meet once a week (now we just talk on the phone) and plot out what should happen in 10 pages. Then one person writes those 10 pages and turns them in to the other at the end of the week. The other person edits her work and then it's her turn to write 10 pages. This swapping back and forth happens all the way until the end of the book!

There are so many advantages to writing together. For one, you always have a very honest friend who is looking over your shoulder and helping to guide your path. Plus, there's always someone to help out with writer's block.

Q: What was the inspiration behind The Book of Jane? Did the Job parallels come before the plot or afterwards?

May: We definitely started with the Job idea. We love to base our books on the heart-pounding, gut-wrenching stories of the Bible, the kind of stories that really ...

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