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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ladybug, Ladybug...

Fly Away Home
Jennifer Weiner

Atria Books, 2010

When Sylvie Serfer met Richard Woodruff in law school, she had wild curls, wide hips, and lots of opinions. Decades later, Sylvie has remade herself as the ideal politician’s wife—her hair dyed and straightened and her laid-back and comfortable wardrobe replaced by tailored knit suits. At fifty-seven, she ruefully acknowledges that her most important job is staying twenty pounds thinner than she was in her twenties and tending to her husband, the senator.

Lizzie, the Woodruffs’ younger daughter, is at twenty-four a recovering addict, whose mantra HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?) helps her keep her life under control. Still, trouble always seems to find her. Her older sister, Diana, an emergency room physician, has everything Lizzie failed to achieve—a husband, a young son, the perfect home—and yet she’s trapped in a loveless marriage. With temptation waiting in one of the ER’s exam rooms, she finds herself craving more and so begins an affair that is sure to end badly.

After Richard’s extramarital affair makes headlines, the three women are drawn into the painful glare of the national spotlight. Once the press conference is over, each is forced to reconsider her life, who she is and who she is meant to be. Sylvie, who has many regrets regarding her daughters, finds herself back at her childhood vacation home on the beach, cooking up a storm and eating even more, delighting in every minute of it. She decides to bring her daughters to the house in order to mend their relationships and help her find the answers she needs to go forward with her life.

I have enjoyed all of Weiner’s books, and this one is no exception. She has a way of portraying women’s thoughts and feelings no matter what their age. The characters of Lizzie, Diana and Sylvie all felt true and right, even though they each had different problems, personalities, motivations, and life experiences. And they are all portrayed sympathetically and realistically. I wasn’t so keen on the men in the book – the senator is an inept knucklehead who didn’t appreciate his wife or his children. Diana’s husband is a self-centered slob that anyone would have trouble living with, and even the nice guy that Sylvie reconnects with is a little too accommodating. In other words, the men lack some depth in character, but that’s okay – we are more concerned about finding out how these interesting and complex women work out their problems.


Other books by this author:
Good in Bed (2001) – My personal favorite!!!
In Her Shoes (2002)
Little Earthquakes (2004)
Goodnight Nobody (2005)
The Guy Not Taken: stories (2006)

Other titles you may enjoy:

The Senator’s Wife by Sue Miller
Meri is newly married, pregnant, and standing on the cusp of her life as a wife and mother, recognizing with some terror the gap between reality and expectation. Delia Naughton -- wife of the two-term liberal senator Tom Naughton -- is Meri's new neighbor in the adjacent New England town house. Delia's husband's chronic infidelity has been an open secret in Washington circles, but despite the complexity of their relationship, the bond between the two women remains strong.

Dog Days by Ana Marie Cox
Melanie has the job of her dreams and the (married) man of her dreams. She's helping to run the communications outfit of Democrat John Hillman's presidential campaign and she's having a romance with Washington's most powerful political journalist, Rick Stossel. In one of life's unhappy coincidences, a group called Citizens for Clear Heads emerges out of nowhere with scandalous information about her candidate at the same time as The Washington Post's gossip columnist begins calling her friends to try to sniff out details of her affair. When her world starts to fall apart, Melanie finds herself willing to sacrifice all of her long-held ideals to keep it together despite the consequences.

Sammy’s House by Kristin Gore
White House aide Samantha "Sammy" Joyce, now in her late 20s, is still handling crisis after crisis. She discovers the president is secretly drinking again and that his father was sexual accosted while living in a nursing home resulting in an out-of-wedlock infant.

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