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Straight Talking: A Novel

Straight Talking: A Novel

4.0 73
by Jane Green

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Meet Tasha—single and still searching. A producer for Britain’s most popular morning show working under a nightmare boss, Tash is well-versed in the trials and tribulations of twenty-first century dating. She and her three best friends certainly haven’t lived the fairy tale they thought they would: there’s Andy, who’s hooked on passion,


Meet Tasha—single and still searching. A producer for Britain’s most popular morning show working under a nightmare boss, Tash is well-versed in the trials and tribulations of twenty-first century dating. She and her three best friends certainly haven’t lived the fairy tale they thought they would: there’s Andy, who’s hooked on passion, but too much of a tomboy to have moved much beyond the beer-drinking contest stage; Mel, stuck in a steady but loveless relationship; and Emma, endlessly waiting for her other half to propose. Their love lives are only complicated by the sort of men who seem to drift in and out: Andrew—suave, good-looking and head over heels in love . . . with himself; Simon, who is allergic to commitment but has a bad-boy nature that’s impossible to resist; and Adam—perfectly attractive, but too sweet to be sexy.

The bestselling first novel that launched Jane Green, one of the brightest stars in contemporary women’s fiction, Straight Talking sets the record straight regarding the real world of dating, and follows the adventures of Tash and her friends as they search for fulfillment and the right kind of love. Funny, flirty, and ultimately tender, Straight Talking gets at the heart of modern romance.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Native Brit Green (Jemima J; Mr. Maybe) had a hit in England with her first novel when it was published there in 1997; it follows the lives of four women (or "ladettes") through lunch dates, new mates and heartbreaks. Career-minded Tasha, who has clawed her way up the ladder of British television to be a producer for a popular a.m. chat-fest, narrates in a brisk, snappy monologue. Although she prides herself on her stylish clothes and glamorous job ("I'm generally thought of as strikingly attractive," she notes), what she really needs is the love of a good man. The problem? She's a sucker for rakes who make her pulse race, treat her horribly and break her heart. Smitten with commitment-phobic Simon, Tasha gets to know his best friend, Adam, to whom she turns for support when Simon calls it quits. Adam and Tasha become great friends-until he announces he loves her. "These are the words I've longed to hear. For years I've dreamed, of being in this situation, of sitting on a terrace, lit by candlelight, facing a man who I love, who tells me he love me too. But this is Adam," Tasha moans. "I love Adam but I don't want his tongue in my mouth, his hand on my breast, his body in my bed." Eventually, Tasha decides to give dating Adam a try, but her desire for passion continues to haunt her until she's forced to choose between warm stability with Adam and scorching hot sex with a handsome stranger. Though this volume has some of the familiar Sex in the City/Bridget Jones's Diary spark, it's neither as charismatic nor humorous as Green's later works. (Sept. 23) Forecast: Jemima J has sold more than 330,000 copies to date in the U.S.; Mr. Maybe more than 195,000; and Bookends more than 66,000. Green's latest may lag behind, but it should still do solid numbers. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Before Jemima J, Mr. Maybe, Bookends, and Babyville, there was Green's first novel, which is finally being released stateside. Anastasia (Tasha to her friends) is 30 and single. She has a glamorous job as producer of a morning call-in show in London, three great friends, and something of a commitment problem. Her girlfriends' relationships are troubled as well. Andrea is just one of the guys to most men, so she has to settle for one-night stands. Mel is stuck in a dependable but loveless relationship. Emma, who has been engaged three times, is dying to get married but can't get a man to make it to the altar. As for Tasha, she finally has to give up on her jerky boyfriend, Simons, when she finds out that he has been cheating on her. Then, instead of realizing that the perfect man is right under her nose in the form of Adam, a sweet friend of Simon who is hopelessly in love with her, Tasha goes on a dating frenzy. When Adam confesses his love, Tasha freaks out a bit but finally comes around and understands how lucky she is. Fun to read and full of keen relationship observations, this novel is sure to be demanded by Green's numerous fans. Recommended for all public libraries.-Karen Core, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
London girlfriends. Tasha is intelligent, sophisticated, and successful-just like her best pals Mel, Emma, and Andy, who meet for lunch once a week and chat incessantly. Alas, a dreary but inescapable truth has cast a pall over their sunny fantasies of lifelong love: Men Are Bastards. Especially the handsome ones. Oh, bloody hell-why are these four brave women such fools? Are all males of the species cruel and selfish? Yet handsome bastards remain must-have accessories. Television producer Tasha still pines for Simon, a fabulously witty editor who dumped her for a blond model. Therapist Mel-so good, so genuine-must cope with the antics of Daniel, a lecherous lawyer. Emma simply cannot get Richard, her significant other, to commit. And Andy, the youngest, happily flirts with all comers, sadly unaware that she too is doomed to suffer the pain of unrequited passion. Different kinds of pain are explored in exhausting detail: the Pain of Being Single, of a Meaningless Relationship, of Divorce, of Marriage. Perhaps, muses Tasha, it's all the fault of her mother, who endured her handsome husband's infidelities for too long. Her irritating shrink, Louise, concurs. Could it be that Tasha's childhood plumpness was an effort to comfort herself with food? Louise is quick at making these connections and repeatedly pointing out the obvious. When not soaking dozens of Kleenexes in Louise's office, Tasha goes out with Simon's friend Adam, a kindly bear of a man who is unfortunately far too normal and unexciting. And so she finds herself inexorably drawn to a suave heartbreaker (see above: unresolved Oedipal issues), as if searching for more proof that men are indeed no good. The girlfriends weigh in withtheir opinions-so many insights! Pages of them! But Adam soldiers on, determined to demonstrate his fundamental decency-and surprising skill in bed. Happy ending. Not previously published in the US, this is Green's first outing, precursor to the much more entertaining Jemima J (2000) and Mr. Maybe (2001). Agent: Deborah Schneider/Gelfman Schneider

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I was never supposed to be single at thirty years old. I was supposed to be like my mother, wasn't I? Married, a couple of kids, a nice home with Colefax and Fowler wallpaper and a husband with a sports car and a mistress or two.

Well, to be honest I would mind about the mistresses, but not as much as I mind being single. What I'd really, really love is a chance to walk down that aisle dressed in a cloud of white, and let's face it, I'm up there at the top, gathering dust.

It can't be that unusual, surely, to be thirty years old and to spend most of your spare time dreaming about the most important day of your life? I don't know, perhaps it's just me, perhaps other women redirect their energies into their careers. Perhaps I'm just a desperately sad example of womanhood. Oh God, I hope not.

It's not as if I haven't had relationships, although, admittedly, none of them have come close to proposing. I've come close to thinking they were my potential husband. A bit too close. Every time. But hey, if you're going to go into it you may as well go into it thinking this time he might be Mr. Right, as opposed to Mr. Right-for-three-weeks-before-he-does-his-usual-disappearing-act.

Sometimes I think it's me. I think I must be doing something wrong, giving out subliminal messages so they can smell the desperation, read the neon lights on my forehead . . . "keep away from this woman, she is looking for commitment," but most of the time I think it's them. Bastards. All of them.

But I never quite lose hope that my perfect man, my soulmate, is out there waiting for me, and every time my heart gets broken I think that next time it's going to be different.

And I'm a sucker for big, strong, handsome men. Exactly the type my mother always told me to avoid. "Go for the ugly ones," she always used to say, "then they'll be grateful." But she landed up with my handsome father, so she's never had the pleasure of that particular experience.

And the problem with small men is they make you feel like an Amazonian giant. At least they do if you're five feet, eight and a half inches, and a size twelve, or thereabouts, the product of constant dieting in public, and constant bingeing in private.

Big men are far better. They put their arms around you, their head resting on yours and you feel like a little girl; safe from the big bad world; as if nothing could ever go wrong again.

So here I am, and for your information I am neither fat, ugly, nor socially dysfunctional. Most people think I'm twenty-six, which secretly annoys the hell out of me, because I like to think of myself as mature and sophisticated, and I'm generally thought of as strikingly attractive.

I know this because the men--when they're still in the stages of being kind to me--say this, but unfortunately I've always longed to be strikingly pretty. I've tried being pretty, painting on big eyes and looking coyly out from under my fringe, but pretty can't be attained. Pretty, you either are or you aren't.

I'm successful, in a fashion. I earn enough money to go on shopping binges at Joseph every three months or so, and I own my own flat. OK, it's not in the smartest part of London, but if you closed your eyes between the car and the front door, you might--only might, mind--just think you were in Belgravia. Apart from the lingering smell of cat pee that is.

Of course I have cats. What self-respecting single career woman of thirty who's secretly desperately longing to give it all up for the tall, rich stranger of her dreams doesn't have cats? They're my babies. Harvey and Stanley.

They might be stupid names, but I quite like the idea of cats having human names, particularly ones you don't expect. The greatest name I ever heard was Dave the cat. A cat called Dave--brilliant, isn't it? I can't stand Fluffys, or Squeaks, or Snowys. And then people wonder why their cats are arrogant. I'd be supercilious, too, if my mother had called me Fluffy.

Luckily she didn't. She called me Anastasia, Nasty to my enemies, Tasia, Tasha, to my friends, of which I have many.

Because just in case you're reading this and you happen to be happily married with other couples as friends, doing cozy couply things together, let me tell you that when you're a single girl, friends are vital.

I always thought the women's magazines were talking a load of crap when they told you to forget about men, crack open a bottle of wine, and sit around with your girlfriends cackling about sex, but it's true.

I still can't quite believe it's true because it's only recently--well, within the last three years--that I've discovered this group of female friends, but that's exactly what we do, once a week, and just in case you're thinking it's sad and lonely, it's not. It's great.

There's me, naturally; Andrea, commonly known as "Andy"; Mel; and Emma.

And I suppose, much as I hate the term ladettes, that's exactly what we are, except we all despise football. Actually Andy says she loves football, and she claims to support Liverpool, but she only says it for two reasons: She fancies Stan Collymore, and she thinks it impresses men.

They are impressed, but they don't fancy her because Andrea is everything I dread. She's more "blokeish" than most of the blokes I know. If a guy's drinking beer, Andrea will instantly challenge him to a drinking competition, and she usually wins. Attractive? I don't think so. They all think she's a great laugh but they wouldn't want to wake up next to her.

You think I'm bitter? If you'd been dumped from a great height by what feels like practically every single man in London, you'd be slightly bitter. But bear with me and you'll discover I'm not quite as bitter as I sound.

In case you're wondering how I earn my money, I'm a television producer. A bit of a joke, isn't it? I who leads such an exciting glamorous life, producing a daytime television show, I who rubs shoulders with the stars every day of her life, I who can't find a bloody man.

But I've had some fun on the show, I grant you. I remember one time an actor came on as a guest--can't tell you who he is, much as I'd like to, because he's very famous, and very famously married to an equally famous wife. The night before the show I had to go to his hotel to brief him, you know, just to check my researcher had got the right stuff, and there we were, drinking gin and tonics in the hotel bar, with him rubbing my leg under the table.

I can't deny I fancied him rotten and I followed him upstairs to make sure we "hadn't left anything out." Gave him the blow job to end all blow jobs. I'll admit it didn't do a lot for me, but then again, I've dined out on that story for nearly four years. I would tell you too, you understand, but we're not exactly close friends, and I haven't decided whether or not I can trust you.

But what I have decided is to tell you about my life, and for all this hard, career-type stuff, I'm a real softie inside. The classic scratch-the-surface-and-you'll-find-marshmallow stuff. You've got to be hard in television--I didn't make it this far just by dishing out the odd blow job--but put me in a room with a man I could love, a man who could take care of me, and I'm jelly, bloody jelly.

That's my problem, you see. They meet me and think I spell danger, glamour, excitement, and then two weeks down the line, right about the time I'm trying to move my toothbrush into their bathroom cabinet and my silk nightdress under their pillow, they realize I'm not so different after all.

And after I've cooked them gourmet meals, because I'm an excellent cook, and added a few flowers and feminine touches to their bachelor pads, they know I could make a good wife. Actually I'd make a bloody superb wife; and they're off, like shit from a shovel.

I'd love to take you back over my whole life, but you probably wouldn't be that interested. Two parents, middle-class, comfortable, even wealthy I suppose, and not very interested in me.

I was the classic wild child, except I think I probably could have been a bit more wild, a bit more crazy, but underneath the good girl was always fighting to get out. Maybe that's why people think I'm a bitch now. I'd spent so many years trying to be good, being walked over by everyone, when I decided to stand up for my rights, and people started getting scared; and what do people do when they're scared of you? Exactly. They call you a bitch. But my close friends know that's not true, and I suppose they're the only ones that really matter.

Hang on, the doorbell's ringing. God, I hate people dropping in unexpectedly. This guy I used to fancy, Anthony, once came over when I was in a grubby old bathrobe with legs that were booked in for a leg wax the following week. I looked a state, and I had to sit there and talk to him, trying to hide my gorilla legs. We never got it together, unsurprisingly.

It's OK though, it's Andy. She probably wants to hear about the last one, the three-monther, bit of a record for me. For all her faults, Andy's great, always makes you feel better. Every time I get dumped I turn first to Mel to ease the pain, and then to Andy to cheer me up, and inevitably I leave feeling the world's a better place. Good job she joined us now, before I get seriously depressed.

You may as well join us, sit down, kick your shoes off, and don't worry, it's a smoker's flat. Beer or Chardonnay, which would you prefer?

The hosts of my show are the biggest pair of assholes I ever came across. I used to fancy him before I worked here, but as soon as I met him I realized he fancied himself more than anyone else ever could, and that was that, turned my stomach.

Whether it's fortunate or unfortunate, he likes blondes. Being blonde, albeit a Daniel Galvin special that costs me a small fortune and has to be redone every six weeks, he likes me. He doesn't actually flirt overtly, doesn't David, just gives me the odd wink when he thinks no one's looking.

And I play up to him, as long as she's not around; his on-screen partner, the woman who plays wife, mother, sister, daughter to the macho inanity he spouts every morning from 10:20 to twelve noon.

She's not crazy about me, but Annalise Richie, the female star of Breakfast Break, knows I'm good and she knows David likes me, not to mention the editor of the program, who, for what it's worth, I slept with on and off for about two years.

Oh, and by the way, don't get these two confused with the other hosts. They're not the sickly sweet pair on the BBC, who paw each other all morning like a pair of rampant lovebirds, nor are they the married couple on the other side who, granted, are as slick as they come.

David and Annalise, you know the ones. He's the one with the perfect looks, if you're into Ken dolls, and she's the dyed blonde who looks like she needs a bloody good scrub with carbolic soap.

Off camera of course; because on camera she's poured into a chic little number from wardrobe, and Jesus, wouldn't I love to tell her adoring public that underneath the silk Equipment shirt is a Marks & Spencer bra that's gone gray. Horrible.

And this morning I need her whining voice like a hole in my head, sitting in the gallery above the studio, trying to turn down the earpiece so her nasal tones sound halfway bearable.

"Tasha, I'm not sure I like these questions, I don't understand what point we're trying to make here."

"Annie," I say, gritting my teeth until I practically grind them down in one easy movement, and calling her by the nickname she prefers because it makes her feel like a friend to the crew, "Annie, we're back on air in three minutes, the woman's an expert on relationships, she's a good talker, just press Play and she's off."

From the monitors above me I see Annalise visibly relax. Stupid cow. Every time a guest comes on who's a pseudo-intellectual, Annalise gets in a panic, quite rightly, because she hasn't got the brains to cope.

The guest is Ruby Everest, larger-than-life stand-up comedienne who specializes in degrading men. My kind of gal. She also happens to have a degree from Cambridge in psychology, and dealing with hecklers is her forte. I met her earlier in the Green Room, and immediately warmed to her.

"Vain bastard, isn't he?" are her first words to me, gesturing at David, preening himself in a pane of glass that happened to have a shadow behind it at the time.

"Isn't that the bloody truth," I respond, suddenly blushing as I remember my vow not to swear in front of guests, or people I don't know well, which I suppose includes you so I'll try to mind my p's and q's. But Ruby just grins, so I grin back.

You can always recognize a fellow member of the sisterhood. Not all women belong, only those who have been prone to a little rough-and-tumble--they've been treated roughly, and then they tumble. Once upon a time, in their twenties, the sisterhood were men's women. All their friends were men, they'd go out, get drunk, shag some bloke, and kick him out in the morning. It was fun in your twenties, you knew you'd settle down eventually, and you just wanted to do as much as possible while you still could.

But now in your thirties you've changed. You've become women's women. There's a weary air about you, you're resigned to the fact that the knights in shining armor disappeared with the round table, and if married men are as good as you're going to get, then that's as good as you're going to get.

Ruby's like me, I can see it immediately. She's a woman who's had enough, a woman who's forced herself to be happy with her cats and her girlfriends, with the odd one-night stand, with the men who treat her like shit and don't come back for more.

Meet the Author

JANE GREEN's previous books include Babyville, Bookends, Mr. Maybe, and Jemima J, all of which were international bestsellers. Before the overnight success of Straight Talking, she worked as a journalist and publicist. A native of England, she now lives outside of New York City with her husband and four children.

Brief Biography

Westport, Connecticut
Date of Birth:
May 31, 1968
Place of Birth:
London, England
"Managed to drop out of Fine Art Degree at University."

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Straight Talking 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 73 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Way too much language! And a bit too much sexual info. That said, I did find it to be a page turner even though I disagreed with the main character's decisions. I wish the book had been a bit longer to wrap it up with an even happier ending. Do all Green's books have this much bad language? I can deal with some but this was a bit much.
Lindsie More than 1 year ago
Jane Green has some fantastic novels and Straight Talking was pretty well written, especially since it is Green's first novel. What I liked about most was the fact that she made this novel so personable. Tasha (the heroine) pretty much told us the story by bringing the reader in as if she were talking to us. It gives the readers a chance to kind of be a part of the story and go along through the journey with her. I also liked how a lot of woman can relate to the story; even if we didn't like all the decisions she made. The part of the book that I didnt like was the fact that the ending was so rushed. I would have liked to find out what happened with Tasha and Adam but we were left to wonder. All in all, it is a good book and any fans of Jane Green should read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good, fun, easy read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read almost all of Jane Green's books, this is another outstanding book that she has crafted. It's funny, sad, exciting, yet I feel that it leaves you wanting more at the end. That is the only reason that I gave it 4 stars. I would highly recommend this book even though the ending leaves you guessing and wanting to find out more....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exactly the same as every other book that's ever been written by Jane Green - a priviledged white lady in her 30's is unhappy with her life; she miraculously finds a man, and unrealistic romance & drama scenes soon follow. Full of dry, hollow humour and mediocre writing skills on par with those of Stephenie Meyer, the authour of Twilight. I'm not even surprised at its mediocrity; this is the norm for Green. This will be my last Jane Green novel; I've given up on her.
risuena More than 1 year ago
The group of girlfriends sitting around talking and being each other's support reminds me so much of Sex in the City. I thought this book was a really quick and fun read; there's romance, steamy sex, funny moments, etc. At the heart of it all, I liked how the author did the internal monologue to describe how self destructive one can be in the long path of self discovery and happiness. It meant letting go of the past, being comfortable with oneself, etc. You find yourself reading and thinking and wishing Tasha won't make the same mistakes, hoping she'll get the happy ending she deserves. It's also fun to see the single life again through Tasha's eyes and lots of what's thought, said, and done are dead on. Overall, this is one of my favorite's from Jane Green.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved every moment of this book. I can completely relate to so many of the situations throughout the story! Definitely a must read for young women!!
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I read this book after a friend told me how much she liked Jane Green's writing. Where better to start than with her first novel STRAIGHT TALKING. I enjoyed STRAIGHT TALKING very much. The pace was light and brisk. The characters were interesting and realistic. I liked how Tasha, the main female character, talked directly to the reader about her relationships with her girlfriends and lovers (past & present), her career, her family, and her struggle with the question of whether or not passion and friendship can exist together. Tasha was not always likable, but I couldn't help root for her as she searched for true love and happiness. I look forward to reading more of Jane Green's books.
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