The Other Side of the Story [NOOK Book]

Overview

Jojo Harvey is a dead ringer for Jessica Rabbit and the most ferocious literary agent in town. A former NYPD cop, she now lives in London making million-dollar book deals while trying to make partner at her firm . . . all the while sleeping with the boss man.

Lily Wright is an author who believes in karma, and is waiting for the sky to fall after stealing her former best friend's man. Though her first book failed to sell, her life turns upside ...

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The Other Side of the Story

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Overview

Jojo Harvey is a dead ringer for Jessica Rabbit and the most ferocious literary agent in town. A former NYPD cop, she now lives in London making million-dollar book deals while trying to make partner at her firm . . . all the while sleeping with the boss man.

Lily Wright is an author who believes in karma, and is waiting for the sky to fall after stealing her former best friend's man. Though her first book failed to sell, her life turns upside down when her most recent book becomes a huge bestseller.

Gemma Hogan is an event designer extraordinaire, but her personal life is nonexistent after losing the love of her life and her best friend in one fell swoop. To make matters worse, her father has just left her mother. While taking care of her mother, she e-mails a close colleague about her frustrations, who in turn forwards the hilarious e-mails to a famous literary agent named Jojo Harvey, who just happens to represent her former friend, now enemy, Lily Wright. . . .

Written in the charming and chatty voice that has become Marian Keyes's signature style, this hilarious and heartwarming novel proves there are three sides to every story . . . especially in the world of publishing!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This rambling, chatty audiobook draws listeners in slowly (sometimes painstakingly so) as it follows the lives of three dynamic women--jilted Gemma Hogan; literary agent Jojo Harvey; and bestselling English author Lily Wright, who "stole" Gemma's boyfriend Anton. Gemma, hurt and betrayed by her best friend's actions, must put her emotions on hold to care for her mam after her dad takes off with a younger woman. Reader Donnelly enthusiastically captures Mam's dour Irish voice and Gemma's younger, more innocent one. Her energetic reading style also helps sustain readers during the book's plodding moments, such as when Keyes describes the happenings of Gemma's work day, her drive home, her trips to the chemist and so on. The details don't let up when the story abruptly shifts its focus to Jojo, who works at a prestigious London firm. Donnelly doesn't quite capture Jojo's American accent, but the English accent she adopts for Lily is spot-on. On the whole, Donnelly does a fine job narrating this marathon-length audiobook, and though it takes a while for the pace to pick up, listeners will be wrapped up in the characters' lives by the story's end. Simultaneous release with the Morrow hardcover (Forecasts, Mar. 15). (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Keyes does her magic with the world of publishing. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
More plucky Irishwomen from Keyes (Sushi for Beginners, 2003, etc.). Events planner Gemma Hogan is astonished to hear that her dear old dad, a chocolate-company middle manager, has left her graying, comfy mam for a much younger, hard-faced floozy. Cherished dreams are shattered, along with a few china shepherdesses. Will her anguished mother ever get out of bed or that damned tufted bathrobe? Fancy a tranquilizer? How about a sleeping pill? Good thing that nice pharmacist stays open so late-oh, gosh, he thinks the pills are for Gemma! What's a chick-lit heroine to do? Step back and let the plot segue to hard-driving literary agent Jojo Harvey, who wangles a million-pound advance for a first novel written by an Englishman who lived as a woman in war-torn Afghanistan. (Ha-ha.) In a nod to American readers, Jojo is said to have worked for the NYPD for three years. Gee, so that's why her nickname is "Yank," even though she talks just like Bridget Jones. Jojo, a dynamo at the office, is a doormat for a middle-aged married stud who won't leave his wife and kids and is always breaking their dates (big surprise). Jojo is also the agent of Lily Wright, an anemic blond who stole Gemma's man, had a baby with him, and wrote an idiotic bestseller about a white witch who fixes unhappy lives. It's not fair, fumes Gemma. But our girl fights back, landing a book contract of her own for a much higher advance than Lily's-though the book tanks-and finding true love at last. Will her foolish dad slink home and comfort her wailing mam?Bloated, meandering plot, with lots of dull talk about the publishing business. Even the author's wonderfully eccentric sense of humor can't save this one. Agent: EmmaParry/Fletcher & Parry
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061826887
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/17/2009
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 133,887
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Marian Keyes

Marian Keyes is the author of ten bestselling novels and two essay collections. She lives in Ireland with her husband and their two imaginary dogs.

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Read an Excerpt

The Other Side of the Story


By Keyes, Marian

William Morrow & Company

ISBN: 0060520515

J O J O
Chapter 12

2:35 P.M. Monday afternoon

Manoj stuck his head around the door. "Jojo, Keith Stein is here."

"Who's Keith Stein?"

"Photographer from Book News. To accompany the piece on you."

"Oh, right. Two minutes," Jojo said. She swung her feet off the desk and tossed aside the crossword that was making her crazy. From her hair she slid out the ballpoint that had been holding it in a makeshift updo. Them auburn waves tumbled to her shoulders.

"Why, Miss Harvey, you're beautiful," Manoj said. "Except your mascara's gone flaky."

He passed her her handbag. "Put your best face forward."

Jojo needed no encouragement. Everyone in publishing read the questionnaire in Book News; it was the first thing they went to.

She snapped open her compact and reapplied her trademark vamp-red lipstick. She wished it wasn't her trademark; she'd love to wear pale pink lip gloss and great neutral taupes. But the one time she'd come to work in Crushed Sorbet, people looked at her oddly. Mark Avery told her she was looking "a little peaky" and Richie Gant had accused her of having a hangover.

Same with the hair; it just didn't suit her any other way. Too long and she looked like an unkempt ceramicist, and too short, well . . . In her early twenties, shortly after she'd arrived in London, she'd got what she'd thought was a gamine crop and the next time she went into a pub, the barman looked at her suspiciously and demanded, "What age are you, sonny?"

That had been it for the short-hair experiment -- and the fresh-faced look.

"More mascara," Manoj suggested.

"You're so gay," Jojo said, indulgently.

"And you're so politically incorrect. I mean it about the mascara. Two words: Richie Gant. Let's sicken him."

Jojo found she was applying her mascara with renewed vigor.

After a speedy color-by-numbers circuit through the rest of her face-blush, concealer, glow -- Jojo pulled the brush through her hair a final time and was good to go.

"Very sexy, boss. Very noir."

"Send him in."

Laden with equipment, Keith came into the office, stopped, and laughed out loud. "You look like Jessica Rabbit!" he said in admiration. "Or that redhead from the fifties movies. What's her name?" He stamped his foot a few times. "Katharine Hepburn? No."

"Spencer Tracy?"

"Wasn't he a bloke?"

Jojo gave in. "Rita Hayworth."

"Yes! Anyone ever say that to you before?"

"No."She smiled."No one." He was so bright-eyed it was hard to be mean.

Keith unloaded his camera equipment, surveyed the tiny book-lined room, considered Jojo, then looked around again. "Let's do something a bit different," he suggested. "Instead of the usual shot of the desk and you sitting behind it like Winston Churchill, let's sex it up a bit."

Jojo stared stonily at Manoj. "What have you been saying to him? For the last time, read my lips. I am not taking my top off."

Keith lit up. "Would you be prepared to do that? It would be very discreet. Two carefully placed thumbs and -- "

A look from Jojo silenced him abruptly, and when he spoke again, he was a little less buoyant. "This is a great desk you have here, Jojo. What about lying on it, on your side, giving a big wink?"

"I'm a literary agent. Have a little respect!" And she was too tall; she'd spill over the ends.

"I've an idea," Manoj said. "How about we copy that famous shot of Christine Keeler. You know it?"

"Where she's sitting backward on a kitchen chair?" Keith said. "Classic pose. Nice one."

"She was naked."

"You don't have to be."

"Okay." Jojo guessed it was better than sprawling full-length on her desk, resting her elbow on empty air. Let's get this done; she had tons of work and she'd already wasted half an hour on the crossword. Manoj went racing off and returned with a kitchen chair, which Jojo straddled, feeling like a dumbass.

"Fantastic." Keith knelt before her to start snapping. "Big smile, now." But before he pressed the shutter, he lowered the camera from his face and got to his feet again. "You don't look very comfortable," he said. "It's your suit. Could you take off your jacket. Only your jacket," he added quickly.

Jojo didn't want to, not at work. Her pin-striped suit held her like a safety harness, and without it she felt way too busty. Released from the confines of the jacket her body's behavior made her think of a spilled mug of coffee -- so much comes out it was impossible to believe that once upon a time, it had all fitted in.

But her boobs would be hidden by the chairback so she slipped the jacket off and restraddled the chair, pulling its back to her chest.

"One other thing," Keith said. "Could you roll up the sleeves of your shirt. And open just one more button at the neck. Just one, that's all I'm asking for. And, you know, shake your hair about, loosen up a little."

"Think sultry," Manoj urged.

"Think unemployment line, you."

"Let's get going," Keith interrupted." Jojo, eyes to me." SNAP! "They were saying back in the office that you used to be a cop in New York before you got into this game. Is that right?" SNAP!

"What is with you guys?" They all loved that she'd been a cop. Even Mark Avery admitted to sexy imaginings of Jojo kicking down doors, snapping on the cuffs, and murmuring, "I'm taking you in."

"Like, don't you have any women police of your own?"

"It's not the same here, they have .at shoes and greasy hair. So you really were one?"

"For a couple of years."

SNAP!

"Cool."

Not cool. It was a shitty job and she blamed TV for making it look glamorous.

"Ever kick any doors down?"

"Hundreds."

SNAP!

"Ever go undercover?"

"Oh, always. I had to seduce Mafia bosses. Sleep with them and get all their secrets."

"REALLY?

"

SNAP!

"No." She laughed.

"Hold that look. Ever get shot at?"

SNAP!

"Always."

"Tilt the head slightly. Ever shoot someone?"

SNAP!

"Yeah."

"Big smile now. Ever kill someone?"

SNAP! SNAP! SNAP!

Chapter 13

Later Monday afternoon
Keith left, and Jojo fastened herself back into her jacket and was about to start work when Manoj buzzed her." Eamonn Farrell on the line."

"What now?"

"Apparently Larson Koza got a blinding review in today's Independent and why didn't he? Shall I jerk him off and get rid of him?"

"You love saying that. I should never have taught it to you. No, put him through."

With a click, Eamonn's rage streamed down the phone line and into the room. "Jojo, I've had it with this Koza fucker."

He let it all out as Jojo "Uh-uh"d sympathetically and scanned her emails. One from Mark;sh e'd save it until she was off the phone.

". . . plagiarism . . . I was the first . . ." Eamonn was saying. ". . . owes everything to me . . . thinks it's all about image . . . good-looking prick . . ." Jojo held her receiver away from her head for a second, just to see if it was foaming. On he went. "And d'you know what they called him? 'A Young Turk.' I'm the Young fucking Turk around here."

Poor guy, Jojo thought. She'd been here before with other authors. After their first flush of joy at being published, the craven gratitude dissipated to make room for jealousy. Suddenly they noticed they weren't the only new writers in the world -- there were others! Who got good reviews and high advances!

It was hard to take on board, especially for someone like Eamonn who had enjoyed a lot of early success. He'd been described as a "Young Turk," a wunderkind. Now it was cuckoo-in-the-nest Larson Koza who was getting the plaudits.

Eamonn drew his rant to a close.

"So what are you going to do about it? Let's not forget you're walking around with twenty-five thousand pounds of my money in commission."

I wish.

She had got Eamonn an advance of a quarter of a million pounds for his book. One of her biggest deals and pretty impressive by most standards -- especially as Young Turks got great reviews but didn't tend to sell in commercial quantities.

"That ten percent you're skimming off me is paying your salary."

That's where you're wrong, buddy. Jojo didn't get any of it. You had to be a partner before you pocketed a percentage of any deal; even so it was never more than five.

But she kept it zipped. He was angry and insecure and she didn't take it personally. Anyway, a few more insults later, he stopped abruptly and said, "Aw, Jojo, I'm sorry, I'm as sorry as anything. I'm a stupid bastard, doing this to you. It's just the competition is so fierce in this business, worse than any other, it really gets to me."

He'd want to try being an agent, she thought. Then he'd really know about competition. But all she said was, "I know, I totally understand. Don't even think about it."

"You're a gem, Jojo Harvey. The best. Can you forget all that shite I said?"

"It's forgotten."

TO: Jojo.harvey@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
FROM: Mark.avery@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
SUBJECT: Miss
Miss (v) 1. Feel the want of. 2. Not have. 3. Notice esp with regret the absence of ~ e.g. I miss you.
M xx

TO: Mark.avery@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
FROM: Jojo.harvey@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
SUBJECT: Tough
Tough (adj) 1. Hard, severe, unpleasant~ e.g., tough luck, you shouldn't have gone away for whole week to book fair.
(Joke [n] 1. Thing said or done to excite laughter.)
JJ xx
P.S. I notice esp with regret the absence of you too.

Ten minutes later
Manoj buzzed again. "On the line we have your cousin Becky, who looks like you, only not so fabulous, if the photo on your desk is anything to go by. I think she wants to hook up with you tonight, she was muttering brokenly about Pizza Express. And if you ladies are requirous of male company, I'd be happy to cancel your order with the male escort agency and volunteer myself. Do you accept or decline this call?"

"Put her through."

"No, you have to say, 'I accept.' "

Jojo sighed. "I accept."

Chapter 14

7:10 P.M. Monday evening
Most people had already gone home when Jojo started to fill in the Book News questionnaire.

NAME
Jojo Harvey

AGE
32

CAREER PATH?
Three years in the NYPD (no, really). A few months barmaiding when I first came to London, six months as reader in Clarice Inc., before being promoted to assistant, then junior agent. Made full agent four years ago and moved to Lipman Haigh Agents a year and a half later.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE SMELL?
Mark Avery

Jojo scribbled, wishing she could inhale him right then.

No, wait; she could not write that. Quickly she scored so many lines through it the page almost tore. What had others put? A quick flick through previous editions showed that some bow-tied old guy had written "The aged must of a rare first edition." Another, his tie even bigger and floppier, "The fresh ink of a new author's first novel."

Richie Gant (no tie at all because who wears ties with a T-shirt) had written "Money" and his crassness had had all of publishing buzzing. But, Jojo thought reluctantly, she had to admire the guy's honesty . . .

Next question.

WHAT MAKES YOU DEPRESSED?
Richie Gant

A pause, then more heavy pen scoring.

WHAT'S YOUR MOTTO?
Richie Gant must die!

Nope, couldn't put that either.

Jesus. She'd wanted, really badly, to be asked to do this questionnaire, but it was way harder than she had expected.

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
Mark Avery

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST DESPISE?
Mark Avery's wife? No, no, no. It's got to be me -- see next question.

WHAT TRAITS DO YOU DISLIKE MOST IN OTHERS?
Women who hit on married men.

WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOURSELF?
Apart from my boyfriend having a wife and two children?

How about her perfectionism? she wondered. Her tenacity? No, she thought: it had to be her calves. They were too hefty and leather kneeboots were a no-no for Jo-jo. Even stretchy sock boots were a bit of a struggle. A common enough complaint perhaps, but on Jojo, the zip wouldn't go all the way up even on ankle boots. Worse still, she insisted her calves had the mottled consistency of corned beef. As a result she nearly always wore tailored trouser suits to work. They had become her trademark. (Another goddamn one.)

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
Sex with Mark Avery. Or, if he's not around, a bottle of merlot and a wildlife program, especially the ones about baby seals.

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
A bottle of merlot and a wildlife program, especially the ones about baby seals.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MONOGAMY?
Yes. Yeah, I know, how can I? I'm a hypocrite. But I never meant for this thing with Mark to happen. I'm not that kind of person.

WHICH BOOK DO YOU WISH YOU HAD AGENTED?

Easy, she thought. Not that she'd ever fess up, even under torture. It was Fast Cars, the current talk of the town. A great novel except that Richie Gant was the agent -- not Jojo -- and he'd secured a £1.1 million advance at auction. Jojo had had similar coups but nothing as high, and she had been disgustingly envious even before Richie Gant made a special trip down the hall to her office to wave the contract at her and crow, "Read it and weep, Yank."

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS' TIME?
As a partner in Lipman Haigh Agents. And hopefully a lot sooner than five years. Like, as soon as someone retires.

At Lipman Haigh there were seven partners -- five based in London and two in the Edinburgh satellite. Then there were a further eight agents who weren't partners, and while there was no way of knowing who the board would pick to replace the next retiree, Jojo had hopes that it might be her. Although three agents had been there longer than she had, she brought in a lot of income to the agency -- for the last two years she'd generated more than any of the other agents.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PHRASE?
What doesn't kill us makes us funnier

WHAT ARE YOUR DISTINGUISHING QUALITIES?
I can whistle for a taxi and swear in Italian. I do a great Donald Duck impression and I can fix bikes.

WHAT FIVE THINGS COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT?
Cigarettes, coffee, vodkatinis, The Simpsons . . .

What else? A regular heartbeat? More cigarettes.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU PROUDEST OF?
Quitting smoking. I think. It hasn't happened yet.

WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON LIFE HAS TAUGHT YOU?
Bad hair happens to good people.

She paused. This is total crap, she thought, sticking her pen back in her hair where it was more useful. Manoj would have to do it. It was time to meet Becky.

Chapter 15

8.45 P.M. Monday evening
Out on wardour Street it was still busy, even on a iron-cold night in late January. Jojo clipped along so quickly she caused a homeless man to mutter, "Where's the fire, love?"

Jojo hurried on -- she didn't want to be late for Becky.

Jojo and Becky were very close, as close as sisters. When she first arrived from New York and was earning a pittance, first as a barmaid, then as an agent's reader, Jojo had bunked down in Becky's bedroom. Squashed together in such close quarters, it could have been a bloodbath. Instead they had bonded in a million different ways, thrilled and enchanted by their similarities, despite having been brought up thousands of miles apart. They discovered that their mothers (who were sisters) both kept the plastic coverings on new upholstery for up to a year. And when their daughters were out of line, both mothers said, "I'm not angry with you, I'm disappointed," then cuffed them upside the head in a way that looked much more like anger than disappointment.

Becky and Jojo even looked alike. But Jojo, taller and curvier, was like a 25% EXTRA FREE! version of Becky. (Although both of them had naturally auburn hair, Becky's was short and highlighted to bits and as a result she was almost never accused of looking like Jessica Rabbit.)

After months of living on top of each other, they had eventually moved into a flat where they had a bedroom each and cohabited in harmony for several years, until Jojo bought her own place and Becky met Andy.

Even though Becky was eight months older, Jojo seemed like the big sister. Somehow she attracted a lot more attention than Becky, who was at heart a gentle soul.

In Pizza Express, Becky was drinking red wine and picking at garlic bread. She waved and beckoned Jojo over.

They hugged, then Becky pulled back and bared her teeth at Jojo in a silent snarl. "Are my teeth black?"

"No." Jojo was alarmed. "Why, are mine?"

"No, but I'm on the red wine. Keep an eye on me."

"Okay, but I will be too, so you better keep an eye on me also."

They scanned the menu and Becky said, "If I get the Veneziana will you tell me if I get spinach caught in my teeth? Can you believe that Mick Jagger once got an emerald set into his teeth? What was he thinking of? Bad enough to have real food trapped in there, but to put something fake . . ."

After they ordered, Jojo said, "So what's up?"

Becky was an administrator in private health care, responsible for the schemes of large companies, and was going through hell.

" You're not going to believe this -- she gave me four new clients today."

"She" was Elise, Becky's boss and tormentor. "Four! And each of them have dozens of employees, all of them needing health plans. I've more than I can handle already. I've started making stupid mistakes and they're going to get worse because I don't have the time to check my stuff properly."

"Becky, you've got to tell her it's too much."

"You can't do that. It makes you look like you can't cope."

"You've got to."

"I can't."

"If she's giving you more clients, she must think you're good."

"No way! She's overloading me so that I'll crack and leave. She's a bitch and I hate her."

Caught up in the stress of Becky's tale, Jojo produced a box of cigarettes from her bag. "Back on them."

"What happened with your acupuncture?"

"Every time I twiddled the pin in my ear, I got a craving for mashed potatoes. Like, really bad. But I'm going to be hypnotized on Friday night. One of the partners, Jim Sweetman, gave me the number. He was a forty-a-day man and now he's on his third cig-free week."

"We all need a vice," Becky said virtuously.

"I know, but they make it so hard for smokers. If I want to smoke at work I have to stand on the street and sometimes men mistake me for a prostitute."

Becky swigged some wine, then checked her teeth in her spoon. Upside down but not black. Good. "I feel better," she said. "You can't beat a good vent. Now, your go, Jojo. Share the joy."

"Well . . . okay, I haven't sold anything in a while. Nothing good has come my way. Like, nothing, and Skanky Boy Gant has done two big deals in the past two months and it scares the pants off me."

Becky wagged a finger. "Now, now, didn't you just do a deal last week? The reason you bought the celebratory Marc Jacobs wallet?"

"Which? Oh, that was just for Eamonn Farrell. I'm not talking about my existing authors. I need to keep adding to my client list. If things don't pick up soon I won't make this year's bonus."

"And then how will you keep yourself in Marc Jacobs wallets? Bonus, my bum. You should get some of the percentage you negotiate. Become a partner!"

"I'm working on it."

"Are you still talking to the wallet?"

"Not as much."

"So how's your new guy working out?"

"Manoj? . . . Young,keen, smart as a whip, but . . . well,he's not Louisa. Why did she have to get pregnant and leave me?"

"She'll be back in four months."

"You think? You don't think she'll love her baby too much to leave it?"

"Louisa? Not bloody likely."

Louisa was a heel-wearing, vodkatini-drinking, razor-brained babe. She'd knocked off the vodkatinis when she'd got pregnant but not much else had changed.

"I really miss her." Jojo sighed. "I've no one to talk to now." Louisa was the only person at work who knew about her and Mark.

"What does Manoj look like?"

"Oh, no, Becky. Oh, no, no, no. Seventy-five pounds, soaking wet. A bit of a fussy britches. Likes me to look great, thinks it's his job to keep me that way."

"Gay?"

"No."

"JGE?"

"Huh?"

"Just Gay Enough."

"Right! And like I say, he's smart. After two weeks, he already knows about me and Richie Gant."

"Does he know about Mark?"

"No! Are you insane?"

"When's Mark back from the book fair? Where is it this time?"

"Friday. Jerusalem."

"Why didn't you just go with him?" Becky asked.

"And miss a whole week of work hanging around in a hotel room waiting for him to come back from meetings?" Jojo tried to look indignant but couldn't sustain it. "Omigod, think of it. Five whole days in bed. Room service, movies, fresh sheets every day, there's something about hotel sheets . . .

"But there were too many others from Lipman Haigh going and staying in the same hotel. Someone would have seen us." Jojo looked at her pizza a little sadly.

Becky offered solidarity by squeezing her hand but there was nothing new to say. Since it had started, about four months ago, they'd analyzed the situation so much that sometimes softhearted Becky began to regret ever getting involved.

Received wisdom has it that something must have already been lacking in the marriage for Mark to have strayed. But it was different when you were actually having an affair, Jojo thought. You can't help but feel ashamed. Well, she couldn't anyway.

But she hadn't liked a man so much in the longest time. Her last boyfriend ("Poor Craig") had become rather needy, then went a tad stalkery when she broke up with him. The relationship before that had started well until the bloke ("Richard the Dick") discovered that Jojo earned more than he did, then the criticism began: the speed she walked at, the fact she wore heels even though she was already five nine, the way she never wore skirts.

"What's the rest of your week like?" Becky asked.

"Tomorrow night, launch party for Miranda England's fourth novel."

"Oh, will you get me a copy? I love her. And what are you up to on Wednesday night?"

"Ohhh." Jojo put her face in her hands. "A dinner. Biography of Churchill launch. Old guys talking Second World War stuff and me face down in my soup, passed out with boredom."

"Why are you going? That's not one of your books."

"Dan Swann asked me along."

"But he's not your boss. Tell him to shove it."

Jojo laughed at the idea of telling intellectual old Dan to shove anything.

"He's a senior partner and he's been real good to me. It's an honor to be asked.

"Thursday night I'll go to yoga." A pause. "Maybe. Friday night I'm going to be hypnotized and Saturday I'll see Mark."

"So come round on Sunday. Andy says he hasn't seen you in ages."

"Less than two weeks. Hey, Becky, am I spending too much time being third wheel with you and Andy? It's just because you're family and you know about Mark so I can talk for as long as I like and you won't tell me to shut up. Well, only sometimes."

"No way, we love it. Come over and we'll read the papers, eat ice cream, and complain."

"About what?"

"Whatever you like," she said magnanimously. "The weather. Your job. The way cream eggs have got smaller. The choice is yours."

An hour later, as they kissed good night, Becky asked, "Are my teeth black?"

"No. Are mine?"

"No."

"We didn't drink enough. Too bad. See you Sunday."

Chapter 16

Tuesday afternoon

TO: Jojo.harvey@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
FROM: Mark.avery@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
SUBJECT: Miss
To pine, yearn, long, wish, want to remove clothing from and sleep with.
M xx

TO: Mark.avery@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
FROM: Jojo.harvey@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
SUBJECT: Tough
Hard, harsh, severe, stringent, unpleasant, but has to be endured as result of great stupidity involved in going away to book fair for an entire week.
JJ xx

Wednesday afternoon

TO: Mark.avery@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
FROM: Jojo.harvey@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
SUBJECT: Crossword
I'm stuck.
Attractive affirmative back around ten? Four letters.
JJ xx

TO: Jojo.harvey@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
FROM:Mark.avery@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
SUBJECT: Sexy!
(ten = × in Roman numerals. Affimative is yes. Yes back is sey. Attractive = sexy.)
Please confirm soonest: When will I see you again? When will we share precious moments?
M xx

TO: Jojo.harvey@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
FROM: Mark.avery@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
SUBJECT: When will I see you again?
Saturday, Saturday, Saaaturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saaaturday, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday night's all right. (So is the daytime.)
JJ xx

TO: Jojo.harvey@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
FROM: Mark.avery@LIPMAN HAIGH.co
SUBJECT: Saturday
Good. The bed's too big without you.
M xx

Chapter 17

8:57 A.M. Friday morning
She heard them before she saw them -- the assistants and readers gathered around the latest Book News and exclaiming like a flock of sparrows.

Pam was the first to spot her.

"Your questionnaire is in!"

"You look great!"

A copy was thrust into her line of vision and Jojo jumped back. The photo! She looked like a fifties B-movie siren-wavy auburn hair swept over one eye, dark pouting lips -- and she was winking. Keith had used the winking photo! It had only been a joke and he had promised not to run it.

"Your answers are great. So funny!"

"Thank you," Manoj said. "Er . . . on behalf of Jojo."

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SMELL?
Success.

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
Myself.

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST CHANGE ABOUT YOURSELF?
My lack of modesty.

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST DESPISE?
Myself -- for my lack of modesty.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
In bed. I like seven hours a night.

WHAT TRAITS DO YOU DISLIKE MOST IN OTHERS?
Their filthy minds.

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Chopping onions.

WHAT MAKES YOU DEPRESSED?
My lack of psychic ability.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS' TIME?
See previous answer.

WHICH BOOK DO YOU WISH YOU HAD AGENTED?
The Bible.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MONOGAMY?
It's a board game, right?

WHAT ARE YOUR DISTINGUISHING QUALITIES?
I can whistle for a taxi and swear in Italian. I do a great Donald Duck impression and I can fix bikes.

(The only one of the original answers that Manoj had permitted to remain -- not that she'd shared the more personal ones with him.)

WHAT FIVE THINGS COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT?
Fresh air, sleep, food, a circulatory system -- and books.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PHRASE?
Do you take Visa?

WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
When the answer is yes.

WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON LIFE HAS TAUGHT YOU?
Nice girls finish last.

It was a good note to end on. Jojo exchanged a wink with Manoj, and Pam watched carefully. She had once tried to copy Jojo's sexy wink -- drink had been taken -- but she had simply succeeded in dislodging her contact lens, which had made her eyelid flutter like a trapped butterfly. By the time she'd managed to calm the spasms the man she'd been trying to hook had bought someone else a Slippery Nipple.

But not everyone was happy for Jojo. On the walk back to her office, she passed Lobelia French and Aurora Hall, who'd been Golden Girls One and Two until Jojo joined. Both of them ignored her. As did Tarquin Wentworth, a so-so agent who'd thought the "Hon." in front of his name would guarantee automatic partnership -- until Jojo's arrival.

Eleven minutes later
Jojo hadn't even started getting her e-mails when Jocelyn Forsyth, one of the senior partners, rapped on her door and said, "Permission to enter." English as Beefeater gin, he was hitting his palm with his rolled-up copy of Book News, which he unfurled to display Jojo's picture. "My dear girl, you're literary Viagra.May I?" He indicated a chair. Omigod. "Sure."

He pulled up the knees of his hand-tailored suit and sat down. "You're quite the comer, aren't you?"

Just then Manoj stuck his head around the door and nodded at Jocelyn. "Wotcha Jock. Sorry, Jojo, Eamonn Farrell is on, going mental. He was in Waterstone's and they had twelve copies of Larson Koza's book and only three of his. He's talking about changing publishers. Shall I jerk him off and get rid of him?"

"Shall you what?" Jocelyn asked.

"Jerk him off -- "

Jojo interrupted. "It means, like, to humor him and send him away happy. Tell him that there are twelve copies of Larson Koza's because no one bought any. You know the drill."

"And what is the provenance of this pithy adage?" Jocelyn asked. "Your law-enforcement days?"

"Um, yeah."

"Please explain."

Feeling like a performing seal, Jojo obliged. "Let's see. Well, people sometimes came by the precinct, kvetching that there weren't enough cops on their street. And they were totally right, there weren't enough to go around. But we'd say, 'Don't worry, we've got lots of plainclothes and undercover. You can't see them, but take it from me, they're there.' And they went away happy."

"An exercise in psychology."

"You got it."

"Another example, please."

Jojo itched to get to her e-mails but he was a nice old guy. And a partner.

"Let me think. Okay, a woman came into the precinct and said the CIA were spying on her through her plug sockets."

"Something similar happened to an aunt of mine," Jocelyn murmured. "MI5 instead of the CIA, but not a million miles away."

"That's gotta hurt."

"I must admit, my dear -- and it's not something I'm proud of -- I found it terribly funny."

"Okay.Well, my poor woman was a crazy and should have been in the hospital. When we took her home, she lived opposite a dress shop that had, like, mannequins in the window, so we told her that one of the mannequins was a plainclothes police and she'd look out for her."

"And she believed this?"

"Sure."

"I see. 'Jerk them off and get rid of them,' " Jocelyn said, rolling the phrase around on his tongue. "Quite marvelous. I shall use it in future. Well, I must get on, my dear. Needs must, but perhaps you'll join me for lunch someday soon."

"Sure."

"I think he likes you," Manoj said quietly, once he'd left.

"Um."

"It's good for the senior partners to like you."

"Um."

"I bet he wears his vest when he's on the job."

"You're gross."

Two minutes later
"Louisa's husband rang." Manoj said. "Her water has broken."

"What, already? She's not due -- "

"Two weeks early." Manoj confirmed.

Good, Jojo thought. The sooner Louisa had her baby, the sooner she'd be back at her desk, no?

"She'll still take her full maternity leave." Manoj read her mind. "They always do. Now, we ought to send flowers."

"Who's 'we,' Paleface?"

"You, I mean. Shall I organize it?"

Lunchtime
Manoj had gone out to buy a hot water bottle and the whole floor was quiet. Jojo was eating an apple and reading Eamonn Farrell's "difficult second novel."

She didn't hear anyone come in, but somehow she sensed she was being watched and she jerked her head up from the manuscript.

It was Mark.

"You're back!"

She sat up straight. Happiness, she thought. A positive emotion triggered by seeing Mark Avery. Which was kind of nuts because, on paper, Mark Avery wasn't so much of a catch. He didn't have the tall, dark, and handsome specifications usually required for the role of romantic hero. He was maybe five ten, but seemed shorter because he was bulky. Though his hair was darkish, there was no exotic olive coloring, just ordinary English skin and eyes. But it didn't matter . . .

He was smiling his head off. "I saw your questionnaire. You're a class act, Jojo." He softened his voice. "And seven full hours, eh? Well, I'll do what I can."

But before she got a chance to reply, there was the sound of chattering -- some of the others back from lunch -- and Mark was gone. They were so paranoid about being seen together that she was often left talking to his slipstream, the words dying in her mouth.

The foregoing is excerpted from The Other Side of the Storyby Marian Keyes. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022 Continues...

Excerpted from The Other Side of the Story by Keyes, Marian Excerpted by permission.
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First Chapter

The Other Side of the Story
A Novel

J O J O
Chapter 12

2:35 P.M. Monday afternoon

Manoj stuck his head around the door. "Jojo, Keith Stein is here."

"Who's Keith Stein?"

"Photographer from Book News. To accompany the piece on you."

"Oh, right. Two minutes," Jojo said. She swung her feet off the desk and tossed aside the crossword that was making her crazy. From her hair she slid out the ballpoint that had been holding it in a makeshift updo. Them auburn waves tumbled to her shoulders.

"Why, Miss Harvey, you're beautiful," Manoj said. "Except your mascara's gone flaky."

He passed her her handbag. "Put your best face forward."

Jojo needed no encouragement. Everyone in publishing read the questionnaire in Book News; it was the first thing they went to.

She snapped open her compact and reapplied her trademark vamp-red lipstick. She wished it wasn't her trademark; she'd love to wear pale pink lip gloss and great neutral taupes. But the one time she'd come to work in Crushed Sorbet, people looked at her oddly. Mark Avery told her she was looking "a little peaky" and Richie Gant had accused her of having a hangover.

Same with the hair; it just didn't suit her any other way. Too long and she looked like an unkempt ceramicist, and too short, well . . . In her early twenties, shortly after she'd arrived in London, she'd got what she'd thought was a gamine crop and the next time she went into a pub, the barman looked at her suspiciously and demanded, "What age are you, sonny?"

That had been it for the short-hair experiment -- and the fresh-faced look.

"More mascara," Manoj suggested.

"You're so gay," Jojo said, indulgently.

"And you're so politically incorrect. I mean it about the mascara. Two words: Richie Gant. Let's sicken him."

Jojo found she was applying her mascara with renewed vigor.

After a speedy color-by-numbers circuit through the rest of her face-blush, concealer, glow -- Jojo pulled the brush through her hair a final time and was good to go.

"Very sexy, boss. Very noir."

"Send him in."

Laden with equipment, Keith came into the office, stopped, and laughed out loud. "You look like Jessica Rabbit!" he said in admiration. "Or that redhead from the fifties movies. What's her name?" He stamped his foot a few times. "Katharine Hepburn? No."

"Spencer Tracy?"

"Wasn't he a bloke?"

Jojo gave in. "Rita Hayworth."

"Yes! Anyone ever say that to you before?"

"No."She smiled."No one." He was so bright-eyed it was hard to be mean.

Keith unloaded his camera equipment, surveyed the tiny book-lined room, considered Jojo, then looked around again. "Let's do something a bit different," he suggested. "Instead of the usual shot of the desk and you sitting behind it like Winston Churchill, let's sex it up a bit."

Jojo stared stonily at Manoj. "What have you been saying to him? For the last time, read my lips. I am not taking my top off."

Keith lit up. "Would you be prepared to do that? It would be very discreet. Two carefully placed thumbs and -- "

A look from Jojo silenced him abruptly, and when he spoke again, he was a little less buoyant. "This is a great desk you have here, Jojo. What about lying on it, on your side, giving a big wink?"

"I'm a literary agent. Have a little respect!" And she was too tall; she'd spill over the ends.

"I've an idea," Manoj said. "How about we copy that famous shot of Christine Keeler. You know it?"

"Where she's sitting backward on a kitchen chair?" Keith said. "Classic pose. Nice one."

"She was naked."

"You don't have to be."

"Okay." Jojo guessed it was better than sprawling full-length on her desk, resting her elbow on empty air. Let's get this done; she had tons of work and she'd already wasted half an hour on the crossword. Manoj went racing off and returned with a kitchen chair, which Jojo straddled, feeling like a dumbass.

"Fantastic." Keith knelt before her to start snapping. "Big smile, now." But before he pressed the shutter, he lowered the camera from his face and got to his feet again. "You don't look very comfortable," he said. "It's your suit. Could you take off your jacket. Only your jacket," he added quickly.

Jojo didn't want to, not at work. Her pin-striped suit held her like a safety harness, and without it she felt way too busty. Released from the confines of the jacket her body's behavior made her think of a spilled mug of coffee -- so much comes out it was impossible to believe that once upon a time, it had all fitted in.

But her boobs would be hidden by the chairback so she slipped the jacket off and restraddled the chair, pulling its back to her chest.

"One other thing," Keith said. "Could you roll up the sleeves of your shirt. And open just one more button at the neck. Just one, that's all I'm asking for. And, you know, shake your hair about, loosen up a little."

"Think sultry," Manoj urged.

"Think unemployment line, you."

"Let's get going," Keith interrupted." Jojo, eyes to me." SNAP! "They were saying back in the office that you used to be a cop in New York before you got into this game. Is that right?" SNAP!

"What is with you guys?" They all loved that she'd been a cop. Even Mark Avery admitted to sexy imaginings of Jojo kicking down doors, snapping on the cuffs, and murmuring, "I'm taking you in."

"Like, don't you have any women police of your own?"

"It's not the same here, they have .at shoes and greasy hair. So you really were one?"

"For a couple of years."

SNAP!

"Cool."

Not cool. It was a shitty job and she blamed TV for making it look glamorous.

"Ever kick any doors down?"

"Hundreds."

SNAP!

"Ever go undercover?"

"Oh, always. I had to seduce Mafia bosses. Sleep with them and get all their secrets."

"REALLY?

"

SNAP!

"No." She laughed.

"Hold that look. Ever get shot at?"

SNAP!

"Always."

"Tilt the head slightly. Ever shoot someone?"

SNAP!

"Yeah."

"Big smile now. Ever kill someone?"

SNAP! SNAP! SNAP!

Chapter 13

Later Monday afternoon
Keith left, and Jojo fastened herself back into her jacket and was about to start work when Manoj buzzed her." Eamonn Farrell on the line."

"What now?"

"Apparently Larson Koza got a blinding review in today's Independent and why didn't he? Shall I jerk him off and get rid of him?"

"You love saying that. I should never have taught it to you. No, put him through."

With a click, Eamonn's rage streamed down the phone line and into the room. "Jojo, I've had it with this Koza fucker."

He let it all out as Jojo "Uh-uh"d sympathetically and scanned her emails. One from Mark;sh e'd save it until she was off the phone.

". . . plagiarism . . . I was the first . . ." Eamonn was saying. ". . . owes everything to me . . . thinks it's all about image . . . good-looking prick . . ." Jojo held her receiver away from her head for a second, just to see if it was foaming. On he went. "And d'you know what they called him? 'A Young Turk.' I'm the Young fucking Turk around here."

Poor guy, Jojo thought. She'd been here before with other authors. After their first flush of joy at being published, the craven gratitude dissipated to make room for jealousy. Suddenly they noticed they weren't the only new writers in the world -- there were others! Who got good reviews and high advances!

It was hard to take on board, especially for someone like Eamonn who had enjoyed a lot of early success. He'd been described as a "Young Turk," a wunderkind. Now it was cuckoo-in-the-nest Larson Koza who was getting the plaudits.

Eamonn drew his rant to a close.

"So what are you going to do about it? Let's not forget you're walking around with twenty-five thousand pounds of my money in commission."

I wish.

She had got Eamonn an advance of a quarter of a million pounds for his book. One of her biggest deals and pretty impressive by most standards -- especially as Young Turks got great reviews but didn't tend to sell in commercial quantities.

"That ten percent you're skimming off me is paying your salary."

That's where you're wrong, buddy. Jojo didn't get any of it. You had to be a partner before you pocketed a percentage of any deal; even so it was never more than five.

But she kept it zipped. He was angry and insecure and she didn't take it personally. Anyway, a few more insults later, he stopped abruptly and said, "Aw, Jojo, I'm sorry, I'm as sorry as anything. I'm a stupid bastard, doing this to you. It's just the competition is so fierce in this business, worse than any other, it really gets to me."

He'd want to try being an agent, she thought. Then he'd really know about competition. But all she said was, "I know, I totally understand. Don't even think about it."

"You're a gem, Jojo Harvey. The best. Can you forget all that shite I said?"

"It's forgotten."

Ten minutes later
Manoj buzzed again. "On the line we have your cousin Becky, who looks like you, only not so fabulous, if the photo on your desk is anything to go by. I think she wants to hook up with you tonight, she was muttering brokenly about Pizza Express. And if you ladies are requirous of male company, I'd be happy to cancel your order with the male escort agency and volunteer myself. Do you accept or decline this call?"

"Put her through."

"No, you have to say, 'I accept.' "

Jojo sighed. "I accept."

Chapter 14

7:10 P.M. Monday evening
Most people had already gone home when Jojo started to fill in the Book News questionnaire.

NAME
Jojo Harvey

AGE
32

CAREER PATH?
Three years in the NYPD (no, really). A few months barmaiding when I first came to London, six months as reader in Clarice Inc., before being promoted to assistant, then junior agent. Made full agent four years ago and moved to Lipman Haigh Agents a year and a half later.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE SMELL?
Mark Avery

Jojo scribbled, wishing she could inhale him right then.

No, wait; she could not write that. Quickly she scored so many lines through it the page almost tore. What had others put? A quick flick through previous editions showed that some bow-tied old guy had written "The aged must of a rare first edition." Another, his tie even bigger and floppier, "The fresh ink of a new author's first novel."

Richie Gant (no tie at all because who wears ties with a T-shirt) had written "Money" and his crassness had had all of publishing buzzing. But, Jojo thought reluctantly, she had to admire the guy's honesty . . .

Next question.

WHAT MAKES YOU DEPRESSED?
Richie Gant

A pause, then more heavy pen scoring.

WHAT'S YOUR MOTTO?
Richie Gant must die!

Nope, couldn't put that either.

Jesus. She'd wanted, really badly, to be asked to do this questionnaire, but it was way harder than she had expected.

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
Mark Avery

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST DESPISE?
Mark Avery's wife? No, no, no. It's got to be me -- see next question.

WHAT TRAITS DO YOU DISLIKE MOST IN OTHERS?
Women who hit on married men.

WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOURSELF?
Apart from my boyfriend having a wife and two children?

How about her perfectionism? she wondered. Her tenacity? No, she thought: it had to be her calves. They were too hefty and leather kneeboots were a no-no for Jo-jo. Even stretchy sock boots were a bit of a struggle. A common enough complaint perhaps, but on Jojo, the zip wouldn't go all the way up even on ankle boots. Worse still, she insisted her calves had the mottled consistency of corned beef. As a result she nearly always wore tailored trouser suits to work. They had become her trademark. (Another goddamn one.)

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
Sex with Mark Avery. Or, if he's not around, a bottle of merlot and a wildlife program, especially the ones about baby seals.

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
A bottle of merlot and a wildlife program, especially the ones about baby seals.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MONOGAMY?
Yes. Yeah, I know, how can I? I'm a hypocrite. But I never meant for this thing with Mark to happen. I'm not that kind of person.

WHICH BOOK DO YOU WISH YOU HAD AGENTED?

Easy, she thought. Not that she'd ever fess up, even under torture. It was Fast Cars, the current talk of the town. A great novel except that Richie Gant was the agent -- not Jojo -- and he'd secured a £1.1 million advance at auction. Jojo had had similar coups but nothing as high, and she had been disgustingly envious even before Richie Gant made a special trip down the hall to her office to wave the contract at her and crow, "Read it and weep, Yank."

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS' TIME?
As a partner in Lipman Haigh Agents. And hopefully a lot sooner than five years. Like, as soon as someone retires.

At Lipman Haigh there were seven partners -- five based in London and two in the Edinburgh satellite. Then there were a further eight agents who weren't partners, and while there was no way of knowing who the board would pick to replace the next retiree, Jojo had hopes that it might be her. Although three agents had been there longer than she had, she brought in a lot of income to the agency -- for the last two years she'd generated more than any of the other agents.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PHRASE?
What doesn't kill us makes us funnier

WHAT ARE YOUR DISTINGUISHING QUALITIES?
I can whistle for a taxi and swear in Italian. I do a great Donald Duck impression and I can fix bikes.

WHAT FIVE THINGS COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT?
Cigarettes, coffee, vodkatinis, The Simpsons . . .

What else? A regular heartbeat? More cigarettes.

WHAT ACHIEVEMENT ARE YOU PROUDEST OF?
Quitting smoking. I think. It hasn't happened yet.

WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON LIFE HAS TAUGHT YOU?
Bad hair happens to good people.

She paused. This is total crap, she thought, sticking her pen back in her hair where it was more useful. Manoj would have to do it. It was time to meet Becky.

Chapter 15

8.45 P.M. Monday evening
Out on wardour Street it was still busy, even on a iron-cold night in late January. Jojo clipped along so quickly she caused a homeless man to mutter, "Where's the fire, love?"

Jojo hurried on -- she didn't want to be late for Becky.

Jojo and Becky were very close, as close as sisters. When she first arrived from New York and was earning a pittance, first as a barmaid, then as an agent's reader, Jojo had bunked down in Becky's bedroom. Squashed together in such close quarters, it could have been a bloodbath. Instead they had bonded in a million different ways, thrilled and enchanted by their similarities, despite having been brought up thousands of miles apart. They discovered that their mothers (who were sisters) both kept the plastic coverings on new upholstery for up to a year. And when their daughters were out of line, both mothers said, "I'm not angry with you, I'm disappointed," then cuffed them upside the head in a way that looked much more like anger than disappointment.

Becky and Jojo even looked alike. But Jojo, taller and curvier, was like a 25% EXTRA FREE! version of Becky. (Although both of them had naturally auburn hair, Becky's was short and highlighted to bits and as a result she was almost never accused of looking like Jessica Rabbit.)

After months of living on top of each other, they had eventually moved into a flat where they had a bedroom each and cohabited in harmony for several years, until Jojo bought her own place and Becky met Andy.

Even though Becky was eight months older, Jojo seemed like the big sister. Somehow she attracted a lot more attention than Becky, who was at heart a gentle soul.

In Pizza Express, Becky was drinking red wine and picking at garlic bread. She waved and beckoned Jojo over.

They hugged, then Becky pulled back and bared her teeth at Jojo in a silent snarl. "Are my teeth black?"

"No." Jojo was alarmed. "Why, are mine?"

"No, but I'm on the red wine. Keep an eye on me."

"Okay, but I will be too, so you better keep an eye on me also."

They scanned the menu and Becky said, "If I get the Veneziana will you tell me if I get spinach caught in my teeth? Can you believe that Mick Jagger once got an emerald set into his teeth? What was he thinking of? Bad enough to have real food trapped in there, but to put something fake . . ."

After they ordered, Jojo said, "So what's up?"

Becky was an administrator in private health care, responsible for the schemes of large companies, and was going through hell.

" You're not going to believe this -- she gave me four new clients today."

"She" was Elise, Becky's boss and tormentor. "Four! And each of them have dozens of employees, all of them needing health plans. I've more than I can handle already. I've started making stupid mistakes and they're going to get worse because I don't have the time to check my stuff properly."

"Becky, you've got to tell her it's too much."

"You can't do that. It makes you look like you can't cope."

"You've got to."

"I can't."

"If she's giving you more clients, she must think you're good."

"No way! She's overloading me so that I'll crack and leave. She's a bitch and I hate her."

Caught up in the stress of Becky's tale, Jojo produced a box of cigarettes from her bag. "Back on them."

"What happened with your acupuncture?"

"Every time I twiddled the pin in my ear, I got a craving for mashed potatoes. Like, really bad. But I'm going to be hypnotized on Friday night. One of the partners, Jim Sweetman, gave me the number. He was a forty-a-day man and now he's on his third cig-free week."

"We all need a vice," Becky said virtuously.

"I know, but they make it so hard for smokers. If I want to smoke at work I have to stand on the street and sometimes men mistake me for a prostitute."

Becky swigged some wine, then checked her teeth in her spoon. Upside down but not black. Good. "I feel better," she said. "You can't beat a good vent. Now, your go, Jojo. Share the joy."

"Well . . . okay, I haven't sold anything in a while. Nothing good has come my way. Like, nothing, and Skanky Boy Gant has done two big deals in the past two months and it scares the pants off me."

Becky wagged a finger. "Now, now, didn't you just do a deal last week? The reason you bought the celebratory Marc Jacobs wallet?"

"Which? Oh, that was just for Eamonn Farrell. I'm not talking about my existing authors. I need to keep adding to my client list. If things don't pick up soon I won't make this year's bonus."

"And then how will you keep yourself in Marc Jacobs wallets? Bonus, my bum. You should get some of the percentage you negotiate. Become a partner!"

"I'm working on it."

"Are you still talking to the wallet?"

"Not as much."

"So how's your new guy working out?"

"Manoj? . . . Young,keen, smart as a whip, but . . . well,he's not Louisa. Why did she have to get pregnant and leave me?"

"She'll be back in four months."

"You think? You don't think she'll love her baby too much to leave it?"

"Louisa? Not bloody likely."

Louisa was a heel-wearing, vodkatini-drinking, razor-brained babe. She'd knocked off the vodkatinis when she'd got pregnant but not much else had changed.

"I really miss her." Jojo sighed. "I've no one to talk to now." Louisa was the only person at work who knew about her and Mark.

"What does Manoj look like?"

"Oh, no, Becky. Oh, no, no, no. Seventy-five pounds, soaking wet. A bit of a fussy britches. Likes me to look great, thinks it's his job to keep me that way."

"Gay?"

"No."

"JGE?"

"Huh?"

"Just Gay Enough."

"Right! And like I say, he's smart. After two weeks, he already knows about me and Richie Gant."

"Does he know about Mark?"

"No! Are you insane?"

"When's Mark back from the book fair? Where is it this time?"

"Friday. Jerusalem."

"Why didn't you just go with him?" Becky asked.

"And miss a whole week of work hanging around in a hotel room waiting for him to come back from meetings?" Jojo tried to look indignant but couldn't sustain it. "Omigod, think of it. Five whole days in bed. Room service, movies, fresh sheets every day, there's something about hotel sheets . . .

"But there were too many others from Lipman Haigh going and staying in the same hotel. Someone would have seen us." Jojo looked at her pizza a little sadly.

Becky offered solidarity by squeezing her hand but there was nothing new to say. Since it had started, about four months ago, they'd analyzed the situation so much that sometimes softhearted Becky began to regret ever getting involved.

Received wisdom has it that something must have already been lacking in the marriage for Mark to have strayed. But it was different when you were actually having an affair, Jojo thought. You can't help but feel ashamed. Well, she couldn't anyway.

But she hadn't liked a man so much in the longest time. Her last boyfriend ("Poor Craig") had become rather needy, then went a tad stalkery when she broke up with him. The relationship before that had started well until the bloke ("Richard the Dick") discovered that Jojo earned more than he did, then the criticism began: the speed she walked at, the fact she wore heels even though she was already five nine, the way she never wore skirts.

"What's the rest of your week like?" Becky asked.

"Tomorrow night, launch party for Miranda England's fourth novel."

"Oh, will you get me a copy? I love her. And what are you up to on Wednesday night?"

"Ohhh." Jojo put her face in her hands. "A dinner. Biography of Churchill launch. Old guys talking Second World War stuff and me face down in my soup, passed out with boredom."

"Why are you going? That's not one of your books."

"Dan Swann asked me along."

"But he's not your boss. Tell him to shove it."

Jojo laughed at the idea of telling intellectual old Dan to shove anything.

"He's a senior partner and he's been real good to me. It's an honor to be asked.

"Thursday night I'll go to yoga." A pause. "Maybe. Friday night I'm going to be hypnotized and Saturday I'll see Mark."

"So come round on Sunday. Andy says he hasn't seen you in ages."

"Less than two weeks. Hey, Becky, am I spending too much time being third wheel with you and Andy? It's just because you're family and you know about Mark so I can talk for as long as I like and you won't tell me to shut up. Well, only sometimes."

"No way, we love it. Come over and we'll read the papers, eat ice cream, and complain."

"About what?"

"Whatever you like," she said magnanimously. "The weather. Your job. The way cream eggs have got smaller. The choice is yours."

An hour later, as they kissed good night, Becky asked, "Are my teeth black?"

"No. Are mine?"

"No."

"We didn't drink enough. Too bad. See you Sunday."

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

8:57 A.M. Friday morning
She heard them before she saw them -- the assistants and readers gathered around the latest Book News and exclaiming like a flock of sparrows.

Pam was the first to spot her.

"Your questionnaire is in!"

"You look great!"

A copy was thrust into her line of vision and Jojo jumped back. The photo! She looked like a fifties B-movie siren-wavy auburn hair swept over one eye, dark pouting lips -- and she was winking. Keith had used the winking photo! It had only been a joke and he had promised not to run it.

"Your answers are great. So funny!"

"Thank you," Manoj said. "Er . . . on behalf of Jojo."

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SMELL?
Success.

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
Myself.

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST CHANGE ABOUT YOURSELF?
My lack of modesty.

WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST DESPISE?
Myself -- for my lack of modesty.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
In bed. I like seven hours a night.

WHAT TRAITS DO YOU DISLIKE MOST IN OTHERS?
Their filthy minds.

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Chopping onions.

WHAT MAKES YOU DEPRESSED?
My lack of psychic ability.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS' TIME?
See previous answer.

WHICH BOOK DO YOU WISH YOU HAD AGENTED?
The Bible.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MONOGAMY?
It's a board game, right?

WHAT ARE YOUR DISTINGUISHING QUALITIES?
I can whistle for a taxi and swear in Italian. I do a great Donald Duck impression and I can fix bikes.

(The only one of the original answers that Manoj had permitted to remain -- not that she'd shared the more personal ones with him.)

WHAT FIVE THINGS COULD YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT?
Fresh air, sleep, food, a circulatory system -- and books.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PHRASE?
Do you take Visa?

WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
When the answer is yes.

WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON LIFE HAS TAUGHT YOU?
Nice girls finish last.

It was a good note to end on. Jojo exchanged a wink with Manoj, and Pam watched carefully. She had once tried to copy Jojo's sexy wink -- drink had been taken -- but she had simply succeeded in dislodging her contact lens, which had made her eyelid flutter like a trapped butterfly. By the time she'd managed to calm the spasms the man she'd been trying to hook had bought someone else a Slippery Nipple.

But not everyone was happy for Jojo. On the walk back to her office, she passed Lobelia French and Aurora Hall, who'd been Golden Girls One and Two until Jojo joined. Both of them ignored her. As did Tarquin Wentworth, a so-so agent who'd thought the "Hon." in front of his name would guarantee automatic partnership -- until Jojo's arrival.

Eleven minutes later
Jojo hadn't even started getting her e-mails when Jocelyn Forsyth, one of the senior partners, rapped on her door and said, "Permission to enter." English as Beefeater gin, he was hitting his palm with his rolled-up copy of Book News, which he unfurled to display Jojo's picture. "My dear girl, you're literary Viagra.May I?" He indicated a chair. Omigod. "Sure."

He pulled up the knees of his hand-tailored suit and sat down. "You're quite the comer, aren't you?"

Just then Manoj stuck his head around the door and nodded at Jocelyn. "Wotcha Jock. Sorry, Jojo, Eamonn Farrell is on, going mental. He was in Waterstone's and they had twelve copies of Larson Koza's book and only three of his. He's talking about changing publishers. Shall I jerk him off and get rid of him?"

"Shall you what?" Jocelyn asked.

"Jerk him off -- "

Jojo interrupted. "It means, like, to humor him and send him away happy. Tell him that there are twelve copies of Larson Koza's because no one bought any. You know the drill."

"And what is the provenance of this pithy adage?" Jocelyn asked. "Your law-enforcement days?"

"Um, yeah."

"Please explain."

Feeling like a performing seal, Jojo obliged. "Let's see. Well, people sometimes came by the precinct, kvetching that there weren't enough cops on their street. And they were totally right, there weren't enough to go around. But we'd say, 'Don't worry, we've got lots of plainclothes and undercover. You can't see them, but take it from me, they're there.' And they went away happy."

"An exercise in psychology."

"You got it."

"Another example, please."

Jojo itched to get to her e-mails but he was a nice old guy. And a partner.

"Let me think. Okay, a woman came into the precinct and said the CIA were spying on her through her plug sockets."

"Something similar happened to an aunt of mine," Jocelyn murmured. "MI5 instead of the CIA, but not a million miles away."

"That's gotta hurt."

"I must admit, my dear -- and it's not something I'm proud of -- I found it terribly funny."

"Okay.Well, my poor woman was a crazy and should have been in the hospital. When we took her home, she lived opposite a dress shop that had, like, mannequins in the window, so we told her that one of the mannequins was a plainclothes police and she'd look out for her."

"And she believed this?"

"Sure."

"I see. 'Jerk them off and get rid of them,' " Jocelyn said, rolling the phrase around on his tongue. "Quite marvelous. I shall use it in future. Well, I must get on, my dear. Needs must, but perhaps you'll join me for lunch someday soon."

"Sure."

"I think he likes you," Manoj said quietly, once he'd left.

"Um."

"It's good for the senior partners to like you."

"Um."

"I bet he wears his vest when he's on the job."

"You're gross."

Two minutes later
"Louisa's husband rang." Manoj said. "Her water has broken."

"What, already? She's not due -- "

"Two weeks early." Manoj confirmed.

Good, Jojo thought. The sooner Louisa had her baby, the sooner she'd be back at her desk, no?

"She'll still take her full maternity leave." Manoj read her mind. "They always do. Now, we ought to send flowers."

"Who's 'we,' Paleface?"

"You, I mean. Shall I organize it?"

Lunchtime
Manoj had gone out to buy a hot water bottle and the whole floor was quiet. Jojo was eating an apple and reading Eamonn Farrell's "difficult second novel."

She didn't hear anyone come in, but somehow she sensed she was being watched and she jerked her head up from the manuscript.

It was Mark.

"You're back!"

She sat up straight. Happiness, she thought. A positive emotion triggered by seeing Mark Avery. Which was kind of nuts because, on paper, Mark Avery wasn't so much of a catch. He didn't have the tall, dark, and handsome specifications usually required for the role of romantic hero. He was maybe five ten, but seemed shorter because he was bulky. Though his hair was darkish, there was no exotic olive coloring, just ordinary English skin and eyes. But it didn't matter . . .

He was smiling his head off. "I saw your questionnaire. You're a class act, Jojo." He softened his voice. "And seven full hours, eh? Well, I'll do what I can."

But before she got a chance to reply, there was the sound of chattering -- some of the others back from lunch -- and Mark was gone. They were so paranoid about being seen together that she was often left talking to his slipstream, the words dying in her mouth.

The foregoing is excerpted from The Other Side of the Storyby Marian Keyes. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022 The Other Side of the Story
A Novel
. Copyright © by Marian Keyes. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 65 )
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(25)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 65 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Uplifting and fun!

    "The other side of the Story" is charming, fun, and sweet. This three part story gets you from the beginning. Each tale weaves itself into the ending and gets you right in the heart. It is uplifting and fun.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not one of Marian's best

    Having read most of her fiction and prose, I can tell you that Marian Keyes has written much better stories. However, this does pull you in to see the "other side" of various people's stories. Not as funny as most of her other writing. Recommend you buy it used.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another Charmer from Keyes

    I am a huge fan of Mairian Keyes and I love all of her books. "The other side of the Story" is charming, fun, and sweet. Although the story was a bit long, it's well worth the time you take to read it. I enjoyed how Keyes made the point in her book about how hard it is for authors to get published; then basing the story on 3 woman all tied together though books. Awesome read! I reccomend it to ALL Marian Keyes fans, as well as fans of the chick lit genre!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2006

    good fun disappointing ending

    I liked the idea of having a story told by three sides was very interesting and fun, I found while I really enjoyed the Jojo and Gemma characters, I found the Lily storyline and character to be really bland and boring and was therefore disappointed to find that out of the three character she seemed to have found the most success.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2007

    Ehhhh....

    It started out with great potential and by the middle of the book, I started to fear for the ending. I suspected the character who was the most traitorous would end up the most victorious, and I was right! That made my very unhappy, coupled with the lameness of the ending. All I want to know is why did the author spend so much time with the character who was the most boring and annoying of them all. Oh, and what was the point of the Gemma character, really?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2004

    Thumbs Up!

    Though, Gemma, is by far my favorite character, all the female characters in this little gem are quite memorable. One can really sympathize with Gemma when her dad just ups and leaves her mom for a younger woman, leaving poor Gemma to handle the damage control. Keyes is a witty writer who had me bursting into laughter page after page.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2004

    This book was FUN FUN FUN to Read!

    This book was so much fun to read! Though it might look like a long read, it really isn't. Once you get started, you wont be able to put it down. I would say my favorite character from the book would be JoJo... Lily was just too weak for my taste. But great read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2013

    Loved

    As usual marian keyes did not dissapoint. Loved this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2010

    Disappointment from Reliable Author

    As a lover of most of Marian Keyes' works, I was highly disppointed by this book. My biggest problem was trying to figure out what Lily and Gemma saw in Anton that they felt the need to fight over him. Then the fact that he never got any of the responsible blame for his part in the end of their friendship left me extremely frustrated. Nothing in this book worked. There was no one to really root for and I really could have stopped reading it halfway through and saved myself the hours it took to finish it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great

    I loved the book, it shows how a book is made, and that's the surprising part. The story is a little predictable for a Marian Keyes book, it's not as surprising as This Charming Man, or Anybody Out There, but it's a lot more cheering, laughting out loud style!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good read.. not great but just good

    It was really hard for me to get into this book at first but once I got about 100 pages into to it, I was happy I gave it a shot. The story line was great and it makes you think!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2008

    Fun read

    This was a good book. I always love Marian Keyes. Was not one of my favorites, but I really did enjoy it! Can't wait to pass it on to a friend!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2008

    LOVED IT

    I love this book so much. The alternating view points kept it interesting, it was a great read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2007

    Not the best

    I always enjoy reading Marian Keyes books, but this one just wasn't on the same level as the others. And from reading the other reviews, I can see that I'm not the only only who feels this way.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2007

    UGhh!

    I loved loved loved the book throughtout...until it got to the part where Jojo became a little selfish...i felt it unlinke her and i found hard to finish i absolutley hated the ending

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2007

    A great book to read

    I absolutely loved this book. It was actually the first book I read of Marian Keyes and I am impressed. It was so good that I didn't want to stop reading. I laughed several times, the comedy was certainly delightful. I wish the endings could have been more cheerful but then again I am a sucker for happy endings. Altogether it was a great book to read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2006

    LOVED IT!!

    This is only the 3rd book I've read by Marian Keyes-but I loved it! I thought it was a bit slow to start off, but after the first few chapters I couldn't put it down. I love her more and more as an author and my list of 'books to read' mostly consists of her books that I've yet to dive into. I can not wait to start the next!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2006

    stopid

    This book was so POOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2006

    A real let-down

    I LOVED the book, until the end! I couldn't stop reading the book, so for the ending to be as disappointing as it was, was awful! It put me in a bad mood when I read the ending.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2006

    Could not believe it was over!!! =(

    I am definetely a FAN of Marian Keyes. I've enjoyed all of her books so far and I cannot wait for 'Anybody out there?'. The Other Side of the Story was well written and the end was REAL. Not everything in life is perfect. YOU WILL LOVE IT!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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