She is one of America's most successful novelists, but she sometimes despairs of her country.
As she releases her 24th novel, Jodi Picoult tells Bryony Gordon why Americans should be made to travel.
Photo: Andrew Crowley/The Telegraph
Before meeting Jodi Picoult, I had it in my mind that she wrote big, sweeping romance novels, guilty pleasures for hot beach holidays, and so set about my research with barely concealed glee.
This glee did not last long. The backdrop to Picture Perfect may be Hollywood, but only as the setting for a tale of horrific domestic violence. The Pact is billed as a teenage love story – only it is one that ends with a bullet in the girl’s head. My Sister’s Keeper, turned into a Cameron Diaz movie, is about childhood leukaemia and stem-cell research. Second Glance: eugenics. The Storyteller: the Holocaust. Nineteen Minutes: a high-school shooting. Lone Wolf: assisted dying. I felt quite bleak by the time I got round to reading her latest, Leaving Time, whose ending I have been banned from revealing, but suffice to say, it didn’t leave me feeling particularly cheery.
We meet in a hotel off Sloane Square, me feeling miserable, her a bundle of all-American energy, ready to seize the day, or at the very least an interview with The Telegraph followed by an appearance on Loose Women. She is to the point, no-nonsense, as I had started to suspect from reading her books. She has still-wet curls and a fresh-faced, healthy glow about her; it is the kind of healthy glow that exudes from people that have sold more books this century than William Shakespeare or Ian McEwan or Charles Dickens.
Yet despite this success – 23 novels in 22 years, eight of which have been number one on the New York Times bestseller list – she struggles to be taken seriously. “I write women’s fiction,” she says, an 'apparently’ hanging in the air. “And women’s fiction doesn’t mean that’s your audience. Unfortunately, it means you have lady parts.”
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