And compelling fiction, too.
CBS has a hit with The Good Wife, and now in Jennifer Weiner‘s luscious new novel, Fly Away Home, a political wife’s predicament is the catalyst for a highly entertaining story.
And so we meet poor, poor Sylvie Woodruff, who joins the “unhappy sorority” of put-upon wives when her husband, Richard, a U.S. senator, has a fling with a woman half his age.
Most galling for 57-year-old Sylvie: She has devoted her life to her husband as a man and a politician, even at the expense of her daughters, Diana and Lizzie, and her own self-worth.
Sylvie has been Botoxed, liposuctioned, nipped and tucked. Her normally curly hair has been straightened and highlighted and sculpted into the classic political-wife hair helmet.
But rather than stick with Richard after the initial humiliating walk of shame for the TV cameras, Sylvia kicks off her high heels, sheds her girdles and too-tight designer suits in favor of soft sweaters and yoga pants, and heads to the beach.
So what if most mistreated wives can’t run away to a homey beach house situated on a bluff above the Atlantic Ocean. And so what if, unlike most women with unfaithful husbands, Silvie doesn’t have to worry about having a job or paying the bills.
It’s all because Weiner, beloved by readers for Good in Bedand In Her Shoes, makes us like Sylvie so much. We cheer her on as she devolves from her role as a fantastic but plastic political wife into a happy, confident woman who cooks and bakes her way to a new self-understanding and makes up for lost time with her grown daughters.
And Diana and Lizzie’s stories are equally intriguing. The married Diana, a doctor, is having a heated affair with an intern five years younger. Scenes in which Weiner describes Diana having sex with her mopey, mouth-breathing husband, Gary, are hilarious. The adorable Lizzie struggles with addiction. A tragic event from her childhood offers a sorrowful example of how Sylvie sacrificed her daughters’ well-being for her husband’s career.
In the end, it’s not Sylvie’s choices that are important as much as the fact that she chooses to do what’s best for her. The message is choosing to live an authentic life. As always, Weiner gives us a woman who stands taller, curvier and happier when she does just that.
Joanna Pulcini Literary Management
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