REVIEW: MRS. FLETCHER, BY TOM PERROTTA

 

Eve Fletcher is trying to figure out what comes next. A forty-six-year-old divorcee whose beloved only child has just left for college, Eve is struggling to adjust to her empty nest when one night her phone lights up with a text message. Sent from an anonymous number, the mysterious sender tells Eve, “U R my MILF!” Over the months that follow, that message comes to obsess Eve. While leading her all-too-placid life—serving as Executive Director of the local senior center by day and taking a community college course on Gender and Society at night—Eve can’t curtail her own interest in a porn website called MILFateria.com, which features the erotic exploits of ordinary, middle-aged women like herself. Before long, Eve’s online fixations begin to spill over into real life, revealing new romantic possibilities that threaten to upend her quiet suburban existence.

Meanwhile, miles away at the state college, Eve’s son Brendan—a jock and aspiring frat boy—discovers that his new campus isn’t nearly as welcoming to his hard-partying lifestyle as he had imagined. Only a few weeks into his freshman year, Brendan is floundering in a college environment that challenges his white-dude privilege and shames him for his outmoded, chauvinistic ideas of sex. As the New England autumn turns cold, both mother and son find themselves enmeshed in morally fraught situations that come to a head on one fateful November night.

My Thoughts: Mrs. Fletcher is a story that delves into the lives of ordinary people, situations that could happen to anyone, and I love how the author often takes us to places that we don’t expect to go.

At first I wasn’t that interested in what was happening to Brendan, the college son, who was kind of a jerk, IMO. But then I started to see his perspective, probably because he was the only first person narrator throughout the novel. Could some of his actions stem from inexperience? Was he really as crude as he seemed, or had he simply had poor role models?

Then there was Eve, the attractive mother who was still struggling after her divorce, and now had an empty nest to ponder. As she starts spreading her wings, finding new people and situations to explore, I just knew that where she was going might end up being regrettable. Could her new addiction to porn lead her down questionable pathways? I also enjoyed how a middle-aged woman like Eve was navigating dating life for the first time after her divorce via social networking.

Supporting characters like Margo, the transgender professor; Amanda, the young woman who worked for Eve at the Senior Center; and Julian Spitzer, the young guy who had been bullied by Brendan in high school…all kept my interest as I followed along with their adventures and how their lives connected with Eve. A 5 star read.***An e-ARC came to me from the publisher via NetGalley.

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REVIEW: DUNE ROAD, BY JANE GREEN

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Kit Hargrove is starting over. After her divorce from Adam, a Wall Street executive, she sells the big fancy house in Highfield, Connecticut, and settles comfortably into a smaller Cape Cod in another part of town. Her two children, Tory, 13, and Buckley, 8, show some signs of the stress of transition, but other than the usual issues, they seem to be doing fine.

She hasn’t downsized to poverty…she is just not in the same social set. But Kit never enjoyed that scene anyway. She takes a job as an assistant to a best-selling author, Robert McClore, and finds a new mother figure in her next-door neighbor Edie. She still regularly socializes with her best friend Charlie, even though Charlie is still married and living in the big house.

Then along comes Tracy, and this is where things start getting interesting. Tracy seems like a con artist to me, and she is making some very questionable moves. What will we learn about her?

A new man suddenly pops up…compliments of Tracy pointing him out. Is there more to this story?

What appeared to be just the usual novel about new beginnings starts to take on a different premise, as more and more unexpected events are triggered, and Kit’s new life begins unfolding in unpredictable ways.

How do secrets from Kit’s mother’s past suddenly reveal themselves and begin to change everything Kit thought she knew about her and about her own life?

The characters that populate Dune Road were interesting, like real people who do annoying things to one another, while keeping potentially dangerous secrets. We see their vulnerabilities, their flaws, and watch how they deal with financial set-backs in the worst economic downturn in recent history. They are forced to question their attitudes, beliefs, and plans, and they must struggle to redefine who they are. The conclusion left me with a feeling of positivity. 4.5 stars.

MIX A SPLASH OF BETRAYAL WITH A FEW DROPS OF OUTRAGE….– A REVIEW

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When I first read the blurb for Ladies’ Night, I was especially drawn to the fact that the main character, Grace, was a “lifestyle blogger.” Yes, the author had me at “blogger.”

Also as a fan of all things cozy and beautiful, I was hooked immediately by this aspect of the story. But what kept me turning those pages were the events that changed Grace’s life in innumerable ways, and how, despite what seemed like her powerlessness, she rose above it. And then she began to take control. And reinvent herself.

Wouldn’t you, if your husband betrayed you, locked you out of your home and your blog, along with your bank accounts? The outrage I felt on her behalf, especially since he was the one who betrayed her…well, you can imagine the emotions engendered. But emotions like these can turn lives around in new directions.

And this is what makes this author’s work so readable. She grabs us emotionally and takes us along for the ride with the characters.

What will Grace do to jumpstart her new life? How will she manage to turn the most infuriating and even humiliating experiences into True Gold…or True Grace, if you will? And when she is presented with obstacles over and over, will she give up? Or will she find a way to turn everything around?

I could not put this book down. I loved the characters, the settings in beautiful Florida, and how the story kept me rooting for Grace and her new friends, Wyatt and Camryn; and I started to feel empathy and compassion for some of the unlikeable ones, too. This delightful tale follows a somewhat predictable path, in that we know that the characters will find a way to win out in the end. The fun is figuring out how they will do that. 4.5 stars.