on 3 November 2009
I don't know what happened to the witty novelist who wrote INFERNAL AFFAIRS and THE SECRET INGREDIENT. AN EX TO GRIND was a clear departure for Ms. Heller, and a truly disappointing one at that.
Melanie Banks, a most unsympathetic character, is a financial analyst who is griping that, since she was the breadwinner in their marriage, she has to pay her husband maintenance in their divorce. She hits upon a clause in their divorce agreement that gives her a light at the end of the tunnel and she single-mindedly pursues a mean-spirited course of action to get a bit closer to that light. She doesn't care who gets hurt in the process.
There's nothing funny in this novel. There's nothing even mildly witty in the dialogue. Melanie uses her friends, shirks her real responsiblities and wastes everyone's time, not least the reader's. I kept reading because I wanted Melanie to receive her inevitable comeuppance, and while the sequence when that arrives is indeed sweet, I thought she deserved worse than she actually got. Given that she's the "heroine" of the story, I suppose that was too much to ask.
I hope that this author returns to form in future novels. I miss the crackling dialogue, intelligent styling and interesting heroines that made me a Heller fan many moons ago.