Do we need another novel about rich New Yorkers and their troubled children? Probably not, but Fleishman Is In Trouble is awfully entertaining, as we follow Dr. Fleishman’s struggling with his children following his soon-to-be ex-wife’s sudden disappearance while caring for high-profile patients. And we learn that he was, in fact, the almost house husband to his financially successful talent agent wife, so their marriage was a little more complicated than we thought. And, in fact, she has her own tale to tell. So don’t dismiss the story too soon or too easily as a standard beach read.
Tag Archives: divorce
The author of Joy Enough was unlucky enough to see her mother sicken and die and her husband walk out on her at the same time. Such bad luck! And there are a few heart-melting moments in the memoir, as when the members of her mother’s book club show up, spontaneously, to clean the house after her death. But the story, however tragic, seems rather ordinary otherwise.
Speaking about awkwardly intimate family memoirs, here’s Leaving Before the Rains Come, the author’s third memoir (I reviewed the others here) and the most personal since it focuses on her own marriage, with many digressions into the colorful history of her father’s family. Although she has lived in Wyoming for years, it seems that much of the stories take place in the South of African of her youth, and where she met her husband.
After her great success publishing her memoirs, it’s interesting to learn how much she struggled to write novels that were never accepted for publication, causing much financial misery for her and her family.
It may be fitting that I read The Divorce Papers immediately after Love Illuminated, but this is pure, light fiction, cunningly rendered through the correspondence between an aggrieved wife and her divorce lawyer, a criminal law specialist who has never worked on a divorce, but who gets assigned to it after the wife specifically requests her. Beside the divorce case, there are intrigues at the law firm, partially caused by the unusual assignment of lawyer, and personal issues with the lawyer’s family (rather more ponderous and forgettable). A fun, undemanding story in an unusual format that works.
Love Illuminated: Exploring Life’s Most Mystifying Subject (with the Help of 50,000 Strangers) is a distillation of many. many letters read by the editor of the Modern Love column in the New York Times. His many anecdotes flow fluently and often, happily, against received wisdom — except when he argues in favor of arranged marriages… And his riffing on selecting last names is hilarious.
What happens when you are divorcing, are raising three boys, have no money, but want to hang on to your dream of living in a half-renovated farmhouse? Find out in Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm. You will find the author tackling aggressive roosters, a failed well pump, and bone-freezing cold. Her love for her boys is heartwarming and her adventures are always told with a sense of humor — even if we occasionally wonder how she puts herself in difficult situations. Why raise chickens for meat if you are afraid of killing them? And why hang on to the farmhouse that is the root of all financial issues she has to face?
On the surface, Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home is a standard story of growing up between two divorced parents — but one lives in Alaska, where she was born, and takes her on wondrous and dangerous adventures in the wilderness, which gives the book a memorable spiciness. But it’s more than the exotic locale that makes the book a delightful experience. The author does a great job of telling the story from the perspective of the child she was, whether she is listening to her parents’ guests’ tall tales of wilderness mishaps, trying to escape her mother’s budgeting woes, or the joy of shooting guns. And she also captures the essential awkwardness she has always felt when she gets close to others, whether a friend’s parents or her own husband. Used to being on her own, shuffled between two parents who could not get too close to her for too long, she finds close relationships rather disorienting. A great book about families and children.
Labor Day describes a hot weekend in New Hampshire that starts with a prison escapee hitching a ride with a depressed single mom and her wise teenage son. Of course the escapee turns out to be a perfect gentleman, who cooks breakfast, teaches the son to play baseball, fixes the rotting floor, romances the mom, and was the victim of a tragic betrayal rather than a cold-blooded murderer. There will not be a happy ending because that would be a little too much, and the book is easy to read even if the over-wise son is a bit too much at times.
Publishing an intimate diary, or what passes as one, is tricky (see Accidentally, on Purpose.) Split proposes to do just that for a very painful divorce: the author’s husband came home one evening, paid her a compliment (nice), went upstairs to change as usual, then came down to announce he was leaving and got into the car. All that with a two-year old in the house. Wow.
The book is the story of what happens in the year following that lovely day, from rage to depression to recovery. Not having been in that boat myself I can’t quite understand how weird it must all feel, but weird behaviors are observed, most notably her sleeping with him, multiple times, even though she knows he is seeing someone else and has been for a long time. Why? I would be so very angry… And while I understand her affection for her mother-in-law (who shares my first name, so must be a wonderful woman) and I understand that she wants to preserve her son’s relationship with her, wouldn’t it be better to put a little distance between them? Her own mother is nearby and very generous with help, so it’s not like she’s all alone in the world.
There are funny parts in the book, most notably when a massive transgendered woman (assistant to one of her good friends) swoops in to help her cope, including digging up many tangible pieces of evidence that her husband cheated on her for years. She had seen all the signs but somehow refused to put two and two together, and even the copious credit card receipts require additional persuasion from the massive and kind woman to finally paint the picture.
A puzzling book for me.