Jane Gloriana Villanueva is now a published author. Jane’s debut novel, Snow Falling, was finally released in the latest episode of Jane the Virgin, and it came with all the fanfare of a dramatic book party and a romantic break-up. (And Isabel Allende, who showed up at the party to share some wisdom about grief and passion, and who was also there because she’d seen some cute nude selfies on Twitter advertising the event.)
In keeping with Jane the Virgin’s over-the-top metafictional winking, Snow Falling is not just a fictional book from inside Jane Villanueva’s fictional world — it’s also an actual book you can buy, and read! It’s not a great book, to be clear. If you’re a Jane the Virgin fan, though, it’s sort of fun. And there are a few things in Snow Falling that feel like intriguing suggestions about where the show is going.
Spoilers for Snow Falling ahead.
1. It’s a faithful representation of the book we see on the show, from cover art to author bio to celebratory blurbs, and from the outside nothing about it would betray that it’s actually written by anyone other than Jane Villanueva. In fact, this stuff is really the highlight of the book, and the most fun parts are the little things intended for faithful viewers of the show. For instance: Jane gets a really lovely blurb from her former writing professor Marlene Donaldson. And Professor Donaldson is credited as the author of a book called ReVulva: Locked and Loaded. Please, please make ReVulva the next Jane the Virgin tie-in publication.
2. Rogelio is a fan of Jane’s novel. You can tell by the nice things he says on the book’s back cover: “BRILLIANT. MOVING. MASTERFUL. I laughed, I sobbed, I even danced. The best novel of the century.” Never change, Rogelio.
3. Snow Falling is exactly like Jane the Virgin! The protagonist Josephine has an identical arc to early parts of the Jane the Virgin TV show: She’s caught in a love triangle between the well-to-do but possibly criminal hotelier, Rake, and the dashing, compassionate Pinkerton detective, Martin. Martin suspects Rake is the crime lord Sin Sombre! Josephine’s mother, Zara, once again stumbles across her father, the famous stage actor Ronaldo! Basically every piece of it will feel familiar, except that it’s set in 1900.
4. It’s so like the TV show that even the Jane the Virgin Narrator shows up, making regular appearances to interrupt and comment on the action of the plot. At one memorable moment, he butts in to frantically hope that Josephine’s abuela isn’t watching Josephine get hot and heavy with one of her romantic interests.
5. The extreme similarities between the show and the book are the book’s greatest weakness. It seems unlikely that people who don’t know the show will be reading the book, so there’s not much room for surprise. And the bigger issue is that novelizations of TV or movies usually give you more — more side plots, more inner monologue, more information about the characters. Snow Falling is distinctly less. It moves through many episodes of the Jane story very, very quickly, and inevitably a lot gets lost. The Petra analogue (Penelope) is very thin. The Rogelio analogue (Ronaldo) takes forever to show up, and does not hold a candle to the original version.
6. The few places where Snow Falling is forced to differentiate from Jane the Virgin are also its most interesting, and they all have to do with time period. There’s just no way Josephine, hotel concierge from 1900, can accidentally find herself pregnant after a mishap at an ob-gyn appointment. So instead, she has sex. With Rake! Right at the beginning! It’s a shift that completely changes the way we feel about Josephine and her love triangle. The story feels very different when she’s been unfaithful to the ever-steady Martin rather than been a victim of unlikely events; it makes Martin more sympathetic, and it also makes the appeal of Rake much stronger. And of course, unlike the series, Josephine is not a virgin!
7. While the 1900s setting forces some of the biggest and most interesting changes from the TV show, it’s also really unconvincing. The hypermodernity of the Jane the Virgin story and characters may not be immediately clear when watching it, but when you try to translate all of their behavior into the year 1900, it’s painfully apparent. It’s very, very hard to imagine a circumstance under which a lowly hotel employee would get pregnant with the boss and then keep working her job at the front desk of the hotel while nine months pregnant. It’s even harder to imagine a hotel employee working out a mutually amicable child-custody agreement between herself, her fiancé, and her baby’s wealthy father in turn-of-the-20th-century Miami.
8. The book is very much #TeamMichael … er … #TeamMartin. Martin is understandably dismayed by Josephine’s infidelity, but it’s mostly a book about how they work around that obstacle. At the end, at the moment where things took an important turn for the show’s Michael, Martin manages to avoid that fate, meaning that he and Josephine have a chance to live happily ever after. As a corollary, things do not work out particularly happily for Rake. And yet…
9. There’s plenty about Snow Falling that suggests things on Jane the Virgin could end up more happily for Rafael. For one, although Jane does not want to be with Rafael at the time of her book publication, Josephine really enjoys the night she spends with Rake. Really. A lot. If you get what I’m saying. She may end up with Martin in the end, but there’s plenty there to keep the Rake/Rafael stans excited.
10. Maybe the most moving moment of the book, and certainly the one that seems most likely to have an impact on Jane the Virgin, has nothing to do with the plot of Snow Falling. It’s the acknowledgements at the end, and there’s a part that’s so suggestive that they actually read some of it in the most recent episode of Jane the Virgin. It’s Jane, thanking Rafael for all his support and help after Michael’s death. Here it is, and I think you’ll see why it feels like Jane-Rafael fans may have some reason for hope:
And finally, my deepest gratitude to Rafael Solano, without whom this book wouldn’t have been written. Thank you for being the first person who believed in me as a writer. Thank you for teaching me how to be brave.