The Glow: A Novel (Hardcover)
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A desperate young publicist tries to save her career by turning the charismatic leader of a grungy retreat center into the hot new self-care brand in this “wildly funny, laser-eyed” (Michael Cunningham) debut novel.
“A satire both cutting and careful in its approach, The Glow is a triumph.”—Elle (Best New Books to Read in Summer 2023)
Jane Dorner has two modes: PR Jane, twenty-five, chummy, and eager to sell you a feminist vibrator or a self-care/bereavement subscription box; and Actual Jane, twenty-nine, drifting through mediocre workdays and lackluster dates while paralyzed by her crushing mountain of overdue medical bills. When her job performance is called into question, Jane’s last-ditch effort to preserve her livelihood and pay off her debt is to land a white whale of a client.
Enter the impossibly gorgeous Cass—whom Jane discovers scrolling through Instagram—and her unassuming husband, Tom—proprietors of a “wellness retreat” based out of a ramshackle country house that may or may not be giving off cult vibes. Suddenly Jane realizes she might have found the one ladder she can climb—if she can convince them that transforming Cass herself into a high-end wellness brand is the key to all three of their futures. Magnetic yet mysterious, Cass is primed to be an influencer: She speaks in a mix of inspirational quotes and Zen koans, eats only zucchini (the most spiritually nourishing vegetable), and has baby-perfect skin. Despite Tom’s reticence about selling out, Jane sets out to mold Cass into the kind of guru who can offer inner peace and make your skin glow—all at a hefty price, of course. As Jane reckons with her own long-dormant ambitions, she wonders: Can a person really “do good” for others while profiting off them? And what parts of our selves do we lose when we trade power, influence, and beauty?
Sparklingly plotted, deliciously deadpan, and irresistibly entertaining, The Glow is a razor-sharp sendup of an industry built on the peculiar intersection of money and wellness, where health is a commodity and self-care a luxury.
About the Author
Jessie Gaynor’s work has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The New Yorker, WSJ Magazine, and elsewhere. She is a senior editor at Literary Hub and she has an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Rona Jaffe fellow. Jessie Gaynor lives in Richmond, Virginia with her family.
“[M]oney, influence, and perfect skin do not always make for good chemistry.”—Elle, “Best New Books to Read in Summer 2023”
“Gaynor is a great writer who’s turned her critical eye to the self-care industry in her debut novel, The Glow. . . . Get ready to laugh (at ourselves and modern society too, of course)!”—Lit Hub, “Most Anticipated Books of 2023”
“I have been personally privy to [Jessie Gaynor’s] sharp wit and slantwise observations for some time. And now you can be too, via her very funny debut novel. . . . Gaynor’s humor is deadpan and piercing, the world she lambasts particular and oh-so-familiar, and there is One Particular Scene that will stick in your memory forever—but my favorite thing about the novel is that it doesn’t at all go where you think it’s going to go, and instead winds up being much more contemplative and subtle than most of the books to which it will inevitably be compared. It’s the perfect summer read for literary people who still want great skin.”—Lit Hub “Novels You Need to Read This Summer”
“A welcome dose of satire for anyone who’s been duped by yoni eggs, vagina scented candles, or those TikTok tarot readers that keep saying the man ignoring your texts is actually in love with you (me, by all three).”–i-D, “Fiction to Be Excited For in 2023”
“Jessie Gaynor’s wildly funny, laser-eyed novel is Jane Austen on steroids. It’s that sharp, that wicked, that laceratingly true.”—Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hours
“Deliciously tart and fizzy and absolutely intoxicating, The Glow is like a slim can of hard kombucha: a wellness tonic for people who like to make fun of the wellness industry.”—Leigh Stein, author of Self Care
“Jessie Gaynor’s writing is wickedly funny and sly in its observations, pairing human truths with a setting that can only belong to our present moment. I tore through the book in a state of pure delight, pining to return to it whenever trivialities like ‘work’ or ‘sleep’ so rudely interrupted.”—Julia Pierpont, author of Among the Ten Thousand Things
“The Glow is the first truly dead-on satire of wellness culture, understanding it as not just a consumer trend but a way of thinking and speaking. With terrifying wit, Jessie Gaynor shreds the overrated virtues of prosperity and healthy moisture barriers and extols the underrated virtues of irony and sanity.”—Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens
“Sparkling like dewy skin and laugh-out-loud funny, The Glow announces Jessie Gaynor as a compelling new novelist.”—Anna Dorn, author of Exalted
“A witty sendup of wellness culture and the perils of transforming people into brands . . . An amusing story . . . about the pratfalls of idol worship. With pithy and poignant observations about the costs of treating people like products, Gaynor makes this shine.”—Publishers Weekly