If you were to judge Snow Falling by its cover, you’d never guess that its author, Jane Gloriana Villanueva, doesn’t exist. Jane Gloriana Villanueva is the fictional heroine of the CW show Jane the Virgin, who, after toiling away at a career as a writer for several seasons, has finally published her debut novel on the show, a historical romance based loosely on her own (very dramatic) life. And thanks to Simon & Schuster, you can read Snow Falling for yourself in the real world.
Jane didn’t actually write the book, of course, because she isn’t a real person—although Simon & Schuster is so committed to the bit that you could be forgiven for not knowing that. Jane even has an author bio and photograph, while the novel’s real writer, Caridad Piñero, is quoted in a cheeky blurb on the back: “Jane’s novel is so much fun I wish I’d written it myself!”
That little bit of back-patting is well-deserved: Snow Falling doesn’t revolutionize the genre, but it really is fun. The book’s plot is essentially the same as the first two seasons of Jane the Virgin, and all the characters even have names that are based on their “real” counterparts. Jane Gloriana Villanueva, for instance, becomes Josephine Galena Valencia, a hotel employee caught in a love triangle after she becomes unexpectedly pregnant, all while a sinister crime lord threatens the people she loves.
OK, so now you can read Snow Falling—but should you? Here are our recommendations, whether you’re a die-hard fan of the show or a Jane the Virgin virgin.
If You’ve Never Seen the Show
Read it—if you’re a fan of historical romances, that is. Given how closely the plot of Snow Falling mirrors the plot of Jane the Virgin, you’ll probably appreciate the twists and turns of the novel better than someone who’s seen the show and knows what’s coming. The characters’ sensibilities are pretty modern, but Snow Falling is set in 1902 Miami, which makes for some fun window dressing: women in petticoats, a traveling theater troupe, a hotelier-turned-rum-runner. It’s not without its flaws, but the love triangle is solid, the sex scenes are suitably sexy, and the takedown of the notorious crime lord, Sin Sombra, is satisfying.
And if you like Snow Falling, you’ll probably want to consider giving Jane the Virgin a try—not only does it feature 21st-century versions of the same characters, but it also boasts a healthy appreciation for romance novels and their tropes. Isabel Allende even makes a cameo appearance.
If You’re a Casual Jane the Virgin Fan
Skip it. The book is good, but not great (sorry, Jane) and you’ll already know all the juicy reveals, like which love interest Jane/Josephine ends up with and the identity of Sin Sombra. Plus, some of the most charming parts of Jane the Virgin just don’t translate into print very well. One of these is the narrator, who is one of the best parts of the show but gets tiresome on the page as he chimes in every so often to comment on a new development—although his worried “I hope Abeula is not reading this” during a sex scene did earn a chuckle.
If You’ve Never Missed an Episode
Read it. But what you’ll get out of it will probably depend on which Jane the Virgin character you’re most attached to …
If You Were #TeamMichael
Read it for the happy ending. Michael died very suddenly in Season 3, and for those of us who refuse to move on, Snow Falling is therapeutic, if bittersweet, reading. In the show, Michael is shot by Sin Rostro, but in the novel, Jane’s counterpart saves her own “Michael” by hurling a snow globe at Sin Sombra, and the two finally get the future together that they deserve.
If You’re #TeamRafael
Read it for the hints of future romance between Jane and Rafael. The title of Jane the Virgin comes from the show’s premise, which is that Jane, who has never had sex, is accidentally artificially inseminated. If you’re wondering how they managed to make that work in a book set in 1902—they didn’t! Instead, they do away with that part altogether, and Jane and Rake Solvino, Rafael’s analog, accidentally make a baby the old-fashioned way by having sex. The resulting scene should thrill Jafael shippers.
Plus, the “real” Rafael gets a lovely shoutout in the book’s acknowledgments:
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.
If You’re #TeamJane
Read it. You’ve spent years watching Jane grow as a writer. Why on earth wouldn’t you want to read the finished product?!
If You’re #TeamRogelio
Read it—but not for the Rogelio character, Ronaldo, who is but a pale imitation of Jaime Camil’s character on the show. Instead, read the novel on the strength of Rogelio’s blurb on the back cover: “I laughed, I sobbed, I even danced. The best novel of the century.”