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Mega-Stressed? You Need Some Alone Time – With One of These Books

Author: 31 May 2016 No Comment

The Adults by Alison Espach

In Alison Espach’s snarky The Adults we meet, at a backyard birthday party, a fruitcake of characters – dark, nutty, liberally laced with alcohol, and all wickedly observed by fourteen-year -old Emily Vidal. At the party are some truly loopy neighbors, hedge fund pals of Emily’s irascible banker dad; a smart-alecky boyfriend of Emily’s and her parents’ longtime friends, the Resnicks. They’ve all come to this gorgeous Connecticut mini-mansion to wish Victor Vidal a happy fiftieth. If only they knew. Just that morning, confrontational in just her bra and pantyhose, Emily’s mother announces she is divorcing Emily’s father. Emily’s father meanwhile bellows back suggesting she’s a slut and that he’s taking a job in Prague. But there is more to be discerned. Much more: Including that terrible moment when, as the party winds down, and most of the guests are too drunk to stand, Emily catches her father making out with Mrs. Resnick.

It’s a moment that sets in motion more than just the death of a marriage — and some terrible stuff does follow. But Emily as droll recorder of these ridiculous and tragic ‘grown up’ events makes the novel shine. Like the lol scene where Emily picks the top off a blueberry muffin and awaits her mother’s mundane wrath: “Emily are you that narcissistic to think you are the only one in the house who enjoys the tops of muffins?”

 

The Widow by Fiona Barton

It isn’t long into this taut psychological thriller, before readers get that widow, Jeanie Taylor, was emotionally abused by her clever husband, Glen. Clever being the operative word because Glen, a closet pedophile, who may or may not have snatched a toddler ‘to keep’ becomes a person of supreme interest to Bob Sparkes, a police detective long on the case. And a person, inspector Sparkes simply cannot nail. It doesn’t help that the mother of the missing toddler is herself a liar – a liar who may in fact have visited one too many chat rooms with Glen. And then there is the mousy wife herself – instinctively smart enough to keep the media circus eating out of her hand. Addictive.

 

The Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

In The Eligible, author Curtis Sittenfeld does more than spoof the reality TV show, The Bachelor. She has the chutzpah to re-imagine and update her tale within the framework of Pride and Prejudice. So, instead of Hertforshire, imagine Cincinnati. The Bennett girls are all here of course. Jane is a 40 year-old yoga instructor and Lizzie, 37, is a magazine editor. When Mrs. Bennett gets wind that TV’s recent bachelor candidate, Charles Bingley, is coming to their upscale neighborhood to stay with family, she sets to work throwing one of her elder daughters into his path.You know the drill. At least the Nineteenth Century drill. In Sittenfeld’s tale our characters all meet at a barbecue. Darcy is a brilliant neurosurgeon who disdains Lizzie as the ‘fifteen pounds overweight kind of pretty. ‘Woe to him.

Sittenfeld’s wry take, in the time of Match.com, is very funny indeed. And while she’s taken some flack from Austen purists, she’s invoked Jane’s humorous bite on marriage – as well as flying solo, just fine.

Howard County Library