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Dull, lazy and anodyne
on 9 November 2010
Conspicuously lacking in the poetry, anger and independence that powered her first novel, Good in Bed, Jennifer Weiner's eighth book treads well-travelled territory for those familiar with her work. I've read them all. I can't stop myself. Even though it's like hanging out for drinks with one of your friends who's only talked about recipes and house prices since they had kids, some misguided loyalty keeps me hanging on. At least it wasn't a hardback.
Fly Away Home (awful TV-movie title) is well written and chugs along at a reasonable pace considering that not much happens, but seems very much like a rehash of her usual themes- pregnancy, infidelity, unreliable and uninspiring menfolk, and lots of delicious-sounding food to pad out the narrative and soften the blows of her female characters' unsatisfactory lives (don't read this book if you're hungry. Or easily bored).
Under all the detailed descriptions of dinner and recycled wisecracks that land with all the punch of a pillow, the picture she paints of her character's futures- and their men- is bleak and un-special, calling for endless compromises while not really seeming to be worth sacrificing anything for.
The end of 'Good in Bed' hints at some kind of transcendence and shows us a woman capable of saving herself, but the follow-up 'Certain Girls,' and everything else Weiner's written since then just makes me feel like women don't really have that much to look forward to, apart from dessert. There have to be better messages than this. I just hope my self-control kicks in before she busts out book nine.