Miss Popularity

Queen Village author Jennifer Weiner — whose best-seller In Her Shoes hits the big screen this month — has fame, power, and the adulation of women everywhere. So why isn't that enough?

IT’S THREE O’CLOCK Sunday afternoon, and Jennifer Weiner, clad in a bathing suit with the straps down — way down — is sunk into an enormous, bubble-filled bathtub at her Cape Cod summer house, cooing a version of "Rubber Ducky" to her two-year-old daughter, Lucy. Weiner may be a writer, but this is the quintessential movie-star shot — perfect lipstick, gorgeous views out picture windows. Still, Weiner’s husband, lawyer Adam Bonin, worries that the People magazine photographers, who are here taking pictures for an upcoming feature about Weiner, may get something a little racier than the perfect mother-daughter scene they’re shooting for.

"More suds!" he directs from his perch near the sink. "I’m starting to be able to see something!" A stylist swoops in with a kitchen whisk to whip bubbles into a foamy meringue. "Perfect!" says the photographer. "I can’t believe how good Lucy is being."

Earlier in the day, the People people photographed the best-selling author in a spangly top and cashmere wrap, standing on the impressive staircase that winds from the $1.99 million house — paid for with money from Hollywood — to the secluded beach below. Then on the beach itself, lying in the sand in a $900 Indian-inspired tunic loaned by designer Marina Rinaldi. And then, during the cinematic "magic hour," cuddled on a chaise lounge with her husband, daughter, and dog Wendell, the Cape Cod sun setting on their perfect life — the kind of life one imagines happening after the credits roll on a movie. Or after the last page turns on a novel that Jennifer Weiner herself might have written.

Ever since 2001, when Good in Bed, a novel she wrote while still slaving away at the Inquirer features desk, became an unexpected best-seller, Weiner has been, to borrow a phrase from GoPhila.com (which advertises "Jennifer Weiner’s Weekend of Indulgences," a tourist itinerary, on its website), a "celebrity author." This means not only that visitors take her spa and dining recommendations seriously, but that her name, like Stephen King’s and Barbara Taylor Bradford’s, is now trumpeted on the covers of her best-selling novels in larger type than the titles. It means that when a book of hers is published, Barnes & Noble bookstores around the country put up signs that say "New From Jennifer Weiner." This is a big deal in the book business, even if Weiner’s husband made a gross-ish joke of it by framing one of the signs and hanging it above the toilet in their Queen Village home.

Still, even for a seasoned celebrity author ("That’s a little like being a celebrity weaver," Weiner snorts), this is a particularly celebrious time. Her second novel, In Her Shoes, is Now A Major Motion Picture Starring Cameron Diaz and will hit theaters October 7th. Meanwhile, Weiner’s fourth novel and first mystery, Goodnight Nobody, synergistically hit the shelves three weeks before the film. If the movie is well-received — and advance reviews suggest it will be — it will bring Weiner not only more fame and riches, but also something more precious: power in Hollywood. Indeed, it may very well change the minds of the studio suits who initially rejected Good in Bedbecause they couldn’t see how the book’s fat protagonist could bring in fat box-office returns — even though Good in Bed has sold more than a million copies. And if it ever does become a movie, Jennifer Weiner could add "changing the image of women in film" to a résumé that already includes "changed the image of women in books."

So what more could she want? Well, a little respect would be nice.