Jill Zarin accused of reviewing her own book, threatening a reviewer on Amazon

Real Housewives of New York cast member Jill Zarin has been accused of reviewing her own book on Amazon, and responding to negative reviews with threats posted under a pseudonym. Jill’s book, which has been featured on the Bravo show this season as a storyline, is Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love, and was released April 15. Already, it has a two-star Amazon rating based on 103 reviews; it also has a two-star rating on Barnes & Noble, but that’s based on fewer reviews.

A scathing Amazon.com review by A. Chandler, who is Amazon’s most helpful reviewer, said the book “seemed more like a doctrine in many cases that isn’t loving and could be detrimental on several levels.” That review resulted in this comment, posted by someone identified as Susan Saunders:

“There is something wrong with you. Anyone with that much time on their hands to HATE will have bad things happen to them. You are a jealous person who likes to gang up on people. I feel sorry for you but more for your cat. Someone needs to take your cat away from you and give to a loving person. Jealous of Jill? You are just making her more famous and people are buying the book because it is a GREAT book about Jewish Mother’s. You are ANTISEMETIC and it shows.”

That comment was posted last Sunday but deleted Friday night, after subsequent commenters discovered that the wish list page for Susan Saunders says it belongs to Jill Shapiro, whose birthday is Nov. 30 and has a daughter named Allyson Paige Shapiro, and includes items added as far back as 1999, including one that says “For Bobby.” Jill’s daughter Allyson has her pre-marriage last name of Shapiro, and her Facebook profile previously said she was born Nov. 30, 1963. On her own blog, Jill posted several positive Amazon reviews that were apparently copied from Amazon.com, indicating she’s reading those reviews.

There’s more drama in the nearly 200-comment thread, but more interestingly, Susan Saunders also reviewed the book, although that review was later deleted (Reality Tea has a screenshot). It said, in part, “I felt like I was hearing my own mother give me the advice I need. I will have this in my library forever.” Since Susan Saunders appears to be Jill, that prompted Jill to respond on Facebook:

“Some crazy fans are saying I wrote my own review. I love the book, of course. People in my life have written wonderful things about the book. Some fans of the show need to find something else to do then write hateful things about me and my family. It is sad and I feel sorry for them. If you read the book and liked it, …please write positive reviews.”

By the way, Susan Saunders/Jill Shapiro’s Amazon profile also shows that she reviewed The Real Housewives in 2008, after the first season aired, writing, “I love Jill because she is the connector and an honest character. I don’t think I will watch the show if at least Jill and Ramona and Bethenny don’t come back. This is one of the few great shows on TV. It reminds me of the Dallas and Dynasty rivalry’s but real life. I will not watch if they don’t come back.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.