The Other Woman

The Other Woman

by Jane Green


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From the New York Times bestselling author of Falling comes a novel about marrying your dream man—and his mother. 
When Ellie meets Dan, she thinks she’s found the perfect man, complete with a loving, close-knit family. Having lost her own mother young, Ellie looks forward to gaining the mother she never had. But first signs of trouble appear when their intimate civil wedding ceremony is transformed into a full-fledged black-tie affair, and Ellie starts to wonder if Dan’s boundary-hating mother, Linda, might be a little too involved.
As troubles between them mount, Ellie turns to her friends—glamorous Lisa and wonderful frazzled Trish—to help her recapture the independence she once had, and the man she still loves. But having her own child makes Ellie realize that the unconditional, sometimes overwhelming love of a mother is something that can’t—and shouldn’t—be ignored...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780452287143
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/06/2006
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 308,739
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.83(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

A former journalist in the UK and a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York, Jane Green has written many novels (including Jemima J, The Beach House, and, most recently, Falling), most of which have been New York Times bestsellers, and one cookbook, Good Taste. Her novels are published in more than twenty-five languages, and she has over ten million books in print worldwide. She lives in Westport, Connecticut, with her husband and a small army of children and animals.


Westport, Connecticut

Date of Birth:

May 31, 1968

Place of Birth:

London, England


"Managed to drop out of Fine Art Degree at University."

Read an Excerpt


Pulling a sickie is not something Iím prone to do. And, while Iíd like to say I feel sick, I donít. Not unless prewedding nerves, last-minute jitters, and horrific amounts of stress count.

But nevertheless this morning I decided I deserved a day offóhell, possibly even twoó so I phoned in first thing, knowing that as bad a liar as I am, it would be far easier to lie to Penny, the receptionist, than to my boss.

ìOh, poor you.î Pennyís voice was full of sympathy. ìBut itís not surprising, given the wedding. Must be all the stress. You should just go to bed in a darkened room.î

ìI will,î I said huskily, swiftly catching myself in the lieómigraine symptoms not including sore throats or fake sneezesóand getting off the phone as quickly as possible. I did think vaguely about doing something delicious for myself today, something Iíd never normally do. Manicures, pedicures, facials, things like that. But of course guilt has managed to prevail, and even though I live nowhere near my office in trendy Soho, I still know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that should I venture outside on the one day Iím pretending to be sick, someone from work will just happen to be at the end of my street. So here I am. Watching dreadful daytime television on a cold January morning (although I did just manage to catch an item on ìupdos for weddings,î which may turn out to be incredibly useful), eating my way through a packet of custard creams (my last chance before the wedding diet goes into full acceleration), and wondering whether there would be any chance of finding a masseuseóa proper oneóto come to the house at the last minute to soothe the knots of tension away.

I manage to waste forty-five minutes flicking through the small ads in the local magazines, but somehow I donít think any of those masseuses are what Iím looking for: ìguaranteed discretion,î ìsensual and intimate.î And then I reach the personal ads at the back.

I smile to myself reading through. Of course Iím reading through. I may be about to get married but Iím still interested in seeing whatís out there, not that, I have to admit, Iíve ever actually gone down the personal-ad route. But I know a friend who has. Honestly. And a wave of warmth, and yes, Iíll admit it, smugness, comes over me. I donít ever have to tell anyone that I have a good sense of humor or that I look a bit like RenÈe Zellwegeróbut only if I pout and squint my eyes up very, very smallóor that I love the requisite walks in the country and curling up by a log fire.

Not that any of thatís not true, but how lovely, how lucky am I, that I donít have to explain myself, or describe myself, or pretend to be someone other than myself ever again.

Thank God for Dan. Thank you, God, for Dan. I slide my feet into huge fluffy slippers, scrape my hair back into a ponytail, and wrap Danís huge, voluminous toweling robe around me as I skate my way down the hallway to the kitchen.

Dan and Ellie. Ellie and Dan. Mrs. Dan Cooper. Mrs. Ellie Cooper. Ellie Cooper. I trill the words out, thrilling at how unfamiliar they sound, how they will be true in just over a month, how I got to have a fairy-tale ending after all.

And, despite the cloudy sky, the drizzle that seems to be omnipresent throughout this winter, I feel myself light up, as if the sun suddenly appeared at the living-room window specifically to shine its warmth upon me.

The problem with feeling guilty about pulling sickies, as I now discover, is that you end up too terrified to leave the house, and therefore waste the entire day. And of course the less you do, the less you want to do, so by two oíclock Iím bored, listless, and sleepy. Rather than taking the easy option and going back to bed, I decide to wake myself up with strong coffee, have a shower, and finally get dressed.

The cappuccino machineóan early wedding present from my chief executiveóshouts a shiny hello from its corner on the kitchen worktop, by far the most glamorous and high- tech object in the kitchen, if not the entire flat. Were it not for Dan, Iíd never use the bloody thing, and thatís despite a passion for strong, milky cappuccinos. Technology and I have never got on particularly well. The only technological area in which I excel is computers, but even then, now that all my junior colleagues are messing around with iPods and MPEGs and God knows what else, Iím beginning to be left behind there too. My basic problem is not so much technology as paper: instruction manuals, to be specific. I just havenít got the patience to read through them, and almost everything in my flat works eventually if I push a few buttons and hope for the best. Admittedly, my video recorder has never actually recorded anything, but I only ever bought the machine to play rented videos on, not to record, so as far as Iím concerned it has fulfilled its purpose admirably.

Actually, come to think of it, not quite everything has worked that perfectly: The freezer has spent the last year filled with ice and icicles, although I think that somewhere behind the ice may be a year-old carton of Ben & Jerryís. And my Hoover still has the same dust bag itís had since I bought it three years ago because I havenít quite figured out how to change itóI cut a hole in it when it was full one time and hand-pulled all the dust out, then sealed it back up with tape and that seems to do the job wonderfully. If anything, just think how much money Iíve saved myself on Hoover bags.

Ah yes, there is also the superswish and superexpensive CD player that can take four hundred discs at a time, but has in fact only ever held one at a time.

So things may not work the way theyíre supposed to, or in the way the manufacturers intended, but they work for me, and now I have Dan, Dan who will not lay a finger on any new purchase until he has read the instruction manual cover to cover, until he has ingested even the smallest of the small print, until he can recite the manual from memory alone.

And so Danóbless himónow reads the manuals, and gives me demonstrations on how things like Hoovers, tumble dryers, and cappuccino machines work. The only saving grace to this, other than now being able to work the cappuccino machine, is that Dan has learned to fine-tune his demonstrations so they last no longer than one minute, by which time Iíll have completely tuned out and will be thinking either about new presentations at work, or possibly dreaming about floating on a desert island during our honeymoon. But the cappuccino machine, I have to say, is brilliant, and God, am I happy I actually paid attention when Dan was showing me how it worked. It arrived three days ago, and thus far Iíve used it nine times. Two cups in the morning before leaving for work, one cup when I get home, and one, or two, in the evening after dinner, although after 8:00 p.m. we both switch to decaf.

And as Iím tapping the coffee grains into the spoon to start making the coffee, I find myself thinking about spending the rest of my life with only one person.

I should feel scared. Apprehensive at the very least. But all I feel is pure, unadulterated joy.

Any doubts I may have about this wedding, about getting married, about spending the rest of my life with Dan have nothing whatsoever to do with Dan.

And everything to do with his mother.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Un-put-down-able. —Cosmopolitan

Unexpectedly honest. —Entertainment Weekly

Warm, convincing and eminently readable. —Booklist

Reading Group Guide

What's the only thing worse than a mother-in-law who can't stand you? One who wants to be your best friend. Ellie thinks she's marrying into the ideal family but soon realizes that her perfect mother-in-law, Linda, can be a perfect monster. What Linda thinks is generous and affectionate, Ellie sees as manipulative and invasive; from commandeering the wedding to crowding the vacation plans, Ellie can't escape her mother-in-law's meddling. To make matters worse, her husband, Dan, offers little support in the escalating struggles between mother- and daughter-in-law. Are his twice-daily phone calls to Linda really necessary—or even normal? How will the arrival of baby Tom affect the family? When will Michael, Linda's submissive husband, finally stand up to his wife? Ellie has always dreamed of having a close-knit family and now she's discovering what happens when wishes come true.

A tender, engrossing read, Jane Green's The Other Woman is the latest in her string of highly successful novels about love, family, and friendship. Her sparkling prose and lively humor have captured the hearts of readers on both sides of the Atlantic, and this newest novel highlights her wit as well as her warmth for and understanding of human relationships. With a nuanced eye for detail and expression, Green reveals not only the frustrations and compromises involved with family life, but also the ever-evolving nature of female friendship. As Ellie navigates through marriage and motherhood, she finds her friends enhancing but also complicating her life with their own desires and limitations. Yet when events take a poignant turn, Ellie finds herself reaching out to the one friend she never imagined needing: Linda.

Flawed, ambivalent but ultimately hopeful and resilient, Ellie Cooper is a heroine readers can identify with and cheer for as she moves through the stages of her life, from single woman to married mom and back—and back again. Life, with all its complications, will never be the idyll that Ellie expects, and as she learns to accept the flaws in her family and friends, she also recognizes and remedies the flaws in herself. A journey of growth, experience and forgiveness, Jane Green's novel will resonate with readers seeking an honest portrait of modern domestic life. Rather than relying on storybook cliché, Green'sThe Other Woman reveals the true give-and-take involved in building an extended family, proving that happy endings don't happen without hard work.



Jane Green is one of the preeminent names in commercial women’s fiction. Her novels have all been bestsellers in Britain. In the United States, To Have and to Hold hit the New York Times bestseller list andThe Other Woman, Bookends, and Babyville appeared on the extended bestseller list for hardcover fiction. .


Would you discuss the inspiration for this novel and how it relates to your previous books?

My books tend to have charted my life experiences and themes that crop up at different times that interest me. Being married with four children, I found it fascinating how often mothers-in-law were the topic of conversation amongst women my age and how almost everyone has a story to tell. I started thinking about what a complex and difficult relationship it is and tried to see it from both sides—the challenges of inheriting a second mother and then the converse view of suddenly not being the most important woman in your son's life anymore.

You've had a successful writing career, building a large fan base in both the UK and the United States. Is there any difference between your British and American readers in terms of their expectations of or reactions to your work?

Different books seem to be popular in the respective countries. A lot of Americans loved Bookends, which was one of the less popular books in the UK—loved partly over here, I'm sure, because it is so quintessentially British. Jemima J is still the book that inspires the strongest reactions both here and in the UK—people love it or hate it.

Do you have an ideal reader in mind as you write each novel? If so, whom did you have in mind when writing The Other Woman?

I'm constantly surprised by the people who read my books and so don't tend to have a reader in mind. I receive letters from twelve-year-olds through to women in their seventies, plus of course there are the letters from men. My aim is that my books still have an emotional honesty that resonates with women, and more so if they've experienced the things I'm writing about. But my themes tend to be universal, and my hope is that even if the girls reading my books haven't reached motherhood and mother-in-law-dom yet, at some point they will, at which point they will revisit. I don't think the absence of direct experience makes the book less enjoyable; it just becomes a different experience.

The Other Woman is narrated in Ellie's intimate yet casual voice, and her personality resonates from the very first page. Is it difficult to create that sense of instant familiarity between reader and character?

I always think it's very easy to create that sense of familiarity when you're writing in the first person, and far harder when you're writing in the third. I think people struggled more with Alice in To Have and to Hold, and mostly because that chatty, informal voice is absent.

Ellie is a charmingly flawed character, which allows readers to relate to her struggles as their own. Are there any fictional heroines whom you identify with or admire? Have they influenced the characters you create?

Whenever I'm asked questions like this I'm tempted to come up with some extraordinarily intellectual response or, at the very least, some intelligent heroines, Madame Bovary perhaps, or Jane Eyre. But the truth is I have no memory whatsoever, and although I am a voracious reader, characters rarely stay with me very long.

Both Ellie and Emma struggle with Linda's expectations and behavior. Why do you think the mother/daughter dynamic is often so challenging? Did you find in writing these conflicts that your allegiance rested more with one character than others?

The more I wrote from Linda's perspective, the more sympathetic I found her. I remember very clearly when I came up with this idea that I didn't want to do the obvious: I didn't want to write about a mother-in-law who thought the daughter-in-law wasn't good enough for the darling son. I think it is far more common to find mothers-in-law who have all the right intentions, who think they are doing the right thing in welcoming a new daughter into the bosom of the family, in phoning all the time in a bid to befriend her, in being what they perceive to be simply a warm, loving mother, and for the daughter-in-law to feel completely overwhelmed by this unwanted attention. And I do also think it true that we so rarely realize that we are never just marrying the man, we are always marrying his family.

Where do you see Ellie progressing after the end of the novel? What is the main experience you'd like your readers to gain from their time with her?

Forgiveness. That all of us are human, and all of us are flawed, and that it shouldn't be held against us. Ellie is so angry when we first meet her, and, as with so many women, is softened by motherhood, but not before experiencing some of that awful hormonal postpartum madness. I also love the idea of acceptance. That everything is exactly how it is supposed to be, and once you stop fighting it and accept it, life inevitably runs far more smoothly.

Do you organize your novels in advance or do they develop of their own accord?

I tend to organize them in thirds. I always start off with a theme, an underlying message, and have a rough idea of the beginning, middle and end. I only plot them out in thirds, though, because generally by the time I've reached the end of the first third the story has gone in a completely different direction: characters who I thought were crucial often turn out to be irrelevant and naturally vice versa.

Are you currently writing anything? What are your plans for the future?

I have just finished a novella that will be coming out as part of a three-author collection just before Christmas 2005 and am trying to work up the discipline to sit down and start my next novel. I have my idea, my theme, and even my title and am in the middle of jotting notes about the characters. Occasionally I have written books with no idea of where the story is going—Straight Talking and Bookends come to mind—but these days I have to have more of an idea as I have to be more disciplined—I don't have the luxury of spending all day idling at my computer as I let my imagination pour forth. These days I'm lucky if I can squeeze in three hours.


  • The "other woman" in Ellie's marriage is her mother-in-law, Linda, but there are many types of "other" women in her life as well. Discuss conflicts of loyalty in the novel in terms of family, marriage and friendship.
  • Use one relationship triangle (e.g., Lisa, Trish, and Ellie) to demonstrate how relationships evolve through the course of the book. Can you draw any parallels between this and your own life? Which character do you most identify with? Why?
  • Ellie initially idealizes Dan's family as a substitute for her childhood experiences. How do her expectations of marriage and family affect her happiness? Did you ever have similar feelings?
  • How does Ellie's identity shift as she moves from single woman to wife to mother? How does her choice of friends reflect these changes? What does she learn?
  • We see Ellie's relationship with Linda through Ellie's perspective. How do you think Linda would describe the events of the book? Were there moments when you sympathized with Linda instead of Ellie?
  • What is your opinion of Dan's behavior toward the conflicts between his mother and his wife? Did your feelings for Dan's father change from the beginning of the novel to the end?
  • Compare the portrayal of marriage and family in this novel with another book or film you have enjoyed recently. What similarities or differences do you notice in the depiction of the relationships? Is Dan and Ellie's experience typical of marriage today?
  • There is a large cast of supporting characters in The Other Woman. Were there any that you wished played a more prominent role in the novel? If so, briefly describe how you would have included them in the plot. If not, explain which character you could have eliminated completely.
  • Take turns describing Ellie physically and psychologically. If the novel were a movie, whom would you cast in the starring roles?
  • Customer Reviews

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    The Other Woman 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 86 reviews.
    enemyanniemae on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This is not my usual fare, but after listening to a portion of the book on audio and then having to give it up, I found myself curious to know how it all turned out. Thank God for the library! It was fairly predictable but fairly interesting. I found the ending to be a little anti-climactic but it was probably very true to the way things would happen in real life. An OK read.
    krystalsbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This was good. Not as steamy as i like a romance novel but it had some good lessons for a successful marriage and truly showed the importance of open communication.
    dkg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    My favorite of her books!
    KatKealy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Definitely not as good as her other books, but worth reading...
    csanta40376 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    My sister left this book for me to read and it was painful. The main character was so awful and such a drama queen that it was difficult to feel sympathy for her.
    shanyn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Since my first Jane Green read was a success (Jemima J), the next time I went to the library I picked up "The Other Woman," which was the only other one they had. I was skeptical of the title, because I didn't really want to read about some relationship where a girl was stealing someone else's boyfriend/husband, but I made sure to read the synopsis where it clearly states that a mother is "The Other Woman."I found myself frustrated through most of the book. While I can understand the situation presented, it felt to me like the main character's husband was too weak for a real life character. I was beginning to get bored with all of the ways the mom would butt into their lives until the climax of the book, which changed things around a bit (one of the reasons I liked Jemima J)... but it did still frustrate me a little with the way things were going. At least one of the characters ended up getting a backbone. Definitely did not like this one as much as Jemima J, but liked it enough to finish it - maybe if I had a different in-law situation I would have felt differently - it just seemed too unrealistic to me. I still look for new Jane Green books at the library when I go, but I would not recommend this one as a first read for anyone starting out with this author.
    krsball on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This book was very topical for me and I couldn't put it down. My mother-in-law and I have a difficult relationship and so this felt very true to life for me. I loved the twists and the ending was delightful. Good book.
    ErinSeeger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I actually listened to this on audiobook, and while I enjoyed listening to it, I hardly think I would have gotten finished reading it.
    hklibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Actually, I bought this book thinking I had not read it, when I actually had. I have to say it was just too much passive aggressiveness on the part of the main character, and reading a whole book about babies made me want to puke! I was hoping she would end up with the sexy actor!
    wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Readable chick-lit from Jane Green where the other woman is the Mother-In-Law. It wraps up a bit pat.
    rainbowdarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I devoured this novel. The main character was interesting to me, as well as the family she married into. It turns a bit tragic in places but I found the change in plot type interesting and would name this up among my favorite of Green's novels.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed the author's style of writing, even though I despised her main character Ellie and her constant whining. I really felt she didn't deserve a happy ending. Everything was always about her and I wanted to slap her most of the time. That saying, I still mostly enjoyed he book.
    bookloverfl12 More than 1 year ago
    4.5 stars - This was a great book with a very touching storyline. I wouldn't know how to react if placed in the situation as Ellie was with her mother-in-law. It would be nice to have an active mother-in-law but not to the point where you feel she is a part of the marriage. This would be a great summer read on the beach with a nice cool drink next to you. Loss of 1/2 star due to me not being thrilled with the narrator of the CD audio book.
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