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Life Swap [Paperback]

Jane Green
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 1 2007
What if a successful, single Londoner and a comfortable, Connecticut mother of two were to walk in each other’s shoes for a month? Vicky Townsley is the director of Poise! magazine and lives a glamorous London life. She has everything she wants—except marriage, children, and a house in the country. Amber Winslow has a stone mansion in Connecticut, two kids, and a nanny, but she hasn’t found the fulfillment she had expected from being a wife and mother. When she spots an intriguing contest in Poise! Amber impulsively enters, never expecting to be picked.

A must-read for every modern woman who’s ever considered the road not taken, Swapping Lives is a warm and realistic chronicle of two women who do more than wonder if the grass is greener on the other side of the Atlantic.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Vicky Townsley, single and successful features director of Poise! magazine in London, thinks that marriage and children are all she needs to be happy. Amber Winslow, wife and mother living in Highfield, Conn., feels like her life is out of control. When Poise! offers to help them switch lives in the interest of a magazine article, Vicky and Amber eagerly agree. What they find is that their own lives aren't so bad, and that happiness comes from within (nothing startling here). Landor's overly affected takes on British and American accents are more distracting than enhancing. Her high-pitched children's voices are annoying and her male characters ring false. The lightweight story is enjoyable but overlong. An abridged version that trimmed back on the nonstop inner dialogue and detail-filled scenes would have probably made for a less draggy audiobook.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

Reality shows and contests are a hot topic for fiction these days, and Green (The Other Woman, 2005) is the latest writer to jump on the bandwagon. Green's vehicle is a Poise! magazine contest that gives a married woman the opportunity to switch places with Poise! features director Vicky Townsley, who at 35 is professionally fulfilled but unhappy that she's not yet found a man. She's hoping she may have met the one in Jamie Donnelly, a handsome Irish comedian who has a reputation as a womanizer. Across the pond in Highfield, Connecticut, Amber Winslow has what seems like the perfect life with her husband, Richard, and her two adorable children. But Amber is tired of keeping up with her competitive friends, and she sends a letter in to Poise! never expecting to win. Readers probably won't be surprised that Vicky and Amber learn to appreciate their own lives thanks to the switch, but they will enjoy watching Green peel the layers of the women's lives back, highlighting that both women have issues they need to change and others they need to accept. Green is a popular chick-lit writer, so expect demand. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother July 3 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Normally I really enjoy Jane Green's books but this one was not great. It's very slow to start and extremely repeative. There was also nothing new in the subject matter and the ending was overly predictable. Jane Green is a good author, she just screwed the pooch on this one. Try Jemima J instead.
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Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  100 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Aug. 17 2006
By Ellis Bell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Swapping Lives is a story whose theme covers an often-discussed topic: what would it be like to step into the shoes of someone else?

Vicky is 35, has a job as Features Editor at Poise Magazine in London, and seems to have the perfect single life. Deep down, however, she's unhappy. She wants to be married, to have the comfort and safety of a large country home.

On the other side of the pond is Amber, a housewife in Connecticuit who keeps being compared to the characters from Desperate Housewives. She's married to a Wall Street broker and has two children, and spends her free time doing events for the local Ladies' League. She also has a huge wardrobe full of designer clothes. Her life, too seems perfect. But Amber is tired of keeping up with the Joneses, and wants to have a taste of what its like to be single again.

And idea is hatched: Poise will hold a Life Swap, in which Vicky will switch lives with a housewife for a month. She'll wear the women's clothes and do all the tings the housewife would normally do. When none of the candidates from England proove to be acceptable, Vicky responds to a letter from Amber--and ends up falling in love, briefly, with the life she leads. Therein follows a string of interesting occurences in which Vicky tries to be the typical American housewife and mother and Amber attempts to live the life of a single woman in London--in the process fending off Vicky's old admirers.

This book had several major flaws. First of all, it took until more than halfway through the book for the swap to actually occur. Jane Green kept setting the mood for more than 200 pages, pages that could have been devoted more to the experiences the women have when they switch. Also, Vicky and Amber decide, after all of this and only two weeks in their new lives, to switch back again! After all the energy that was put into building the characters, there's this anticlimax that is disappointing. The subject of this book is rehashed material and the ending is predictable; the women find that they prefer their own lives, after all. Jane Green should stick to writing about single girls--even though, as a mother of four, I suspect that getting into that mindset would be difficult. However, Green's earlier books were much more fun to read.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Okay but pretty cliched May 14 2008
By Bookphile - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This novel had some moments that were greatly entertaining and even interesting at times. The photo of the author on the jacket made me think that she has some personal experience with the "Desperate Housewives" lifestyle. Still, it's a lifestyle that has really been done to death and I found it a bit far-fetched that in her quest to experience the married with children life, Vicky chose Amber's. If Vicky really wanted an accurate picture of married with children life, shouldn't she have chosen a household that was rather more middle class, where the kids weren't being raised by a nanny and where the mother wasn't out buying designer bag after designer bag? How much reality can anyone get from that sort of lifestyle? This particular plot thread was complicated by the fact that the author seems to be condemning the lifestyle but not entirely. While criticizing it, she's also glorifying it. The author really only skims the surface with this issue and I think she'd have been better served if she'd delved a bit deeper and gave some more insight into what made these women behave the way they were.

This goes doubly for Amber. The character was a prime opportunity for Green to dissect what goes on in the head of a woman caught up in this lifestyle but she pretty much throws the opportunity away. Amber felt pretty two-dimensional to me in general. She was symbolic of the woman who comes from nothing, marries for money, and then loses herself in the competition to prove that she is more affluent than the rest, but that's it. The reader never gets a real feel for what's going on in Amber's head, of what her hopes and dreams once were. Green makes her seem mercenary when describing how Amber pursued her husband but then tries to soften this so that Amber doesn't totally sound like a gold digger. It's not really effective and to me it didn't make sense, given that Amber was supposedly ambitious and had her own successful career.

As for Vicky, I also found her to be a rather stereotypical character. The clubbing, drinking single girl really has been done to death and it would have been nice to see a character who broke out of this mold a bit. I could understand Vicky's worry that she would be alone for the rest of her life but she mostly came across as desperate. She was also very judgmental when it came to men and I didn't think this was entirely realistic for a woman who is supposedly so consumed with worry about not finding a mate for life.

All in all, this novel was a pretty typical work of chick lit and I found that disappointing. I read Jemima J several years ago and really liked how Green got into the head of her character. I don't think I'll be in a rush to read more from the author.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't put this in your shopping cart! Aug. 24 2006
By Amy Leo! - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was so looking forward to this book, like I look forward to all of Jane Green's books. Sadly however, the book is not nearly as good as the summary provided by Amazon. None of the characters really pulled you in, the first 150 pages just rambled on and on about how their lives appeared to be golden but so many things were missing - a man (seriously, come on) for the British swap and an actual grasp on reality for the American Swap. We are literally forced to listen to the main characters complain on and on and on... It gave me a headache.

Put this book back on the shelf, unclick it from your shopping, cart, return it to the library, save your self some time, and read Baby Proof or Something Borrowed/Something Blue.

And you, Jane Green, start writing witty novels again!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too one dimensional and predictable to be worthwhile March 19 2007
By Chicago Book Addict - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Usually I would pick up each of Jane Green's books right when they came out. I loved her development of characters, and the general storyline that followed in her earlier books. However, this book was definitely not one of my favorites. Though I do find that most chick lit is a tad bit predictable, this one was exceedingly so. As other reviewers mention, the story ends up in exactly the place that you would think it would: each prefers their old lives. There are a couple of twists, as others mention, but they hardly qualify as twists. They emerge extremely late in the book and are wrapped up too neatly. Also, the characters to me seem like the stereotypes of the single gal who just wants to get married and the married woman who misses aspects of her old life. I just didn't feel like these characters, or the others that surrounded them, were interesting enough to really feel for them in the way I had for some of Jane Green's other characters. They just felt very one dimensional and flat. I also agree that there is so much set up in this book (I read half way through and felt like nothing had happened) and that the swap takes place very late and doesn't seem to cause much of a transformation in the women. In general, this book felt dull to me and lacked the life and relative depth of most of her earlier books. I would check out one of her earlier books instead or get this from the library.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed Jane Green fan... Sept. 25 2006
By C. Boyd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a huge Jane Green fan and was very disappointed with this novel. The story had interesting possibilities, but also left a bitter taste in my mouth. The thing I found the most disturbing is that every man in the book was a remarkable cad...even Amber's "devoted" husband. Call me naive, but not every man that is attracted to another woman other than his wife is going to act on that attraction. Also, the story seemed to drag and then ended abruptly. Doesn't even compare with The Other Woman.
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