Charming English tale about a newly divorced English mother with ungrateful children and a lying, wretched, smarmy ex-husband. She talks to her neighbor about renting her lovely old house, and finds a job selling pretty cottages for a land developer… Sweet tale about moving on.
Imagine three divorced fairy godmothers wearing red hats feeding you yellow cake, laying out your new life, and getting you ready for the charity ball by teaching you how to play bridge. There you have it. The almost penniless newly divorced matron with good manners sets up a home decorating business, stops crying, and learns to negotiate and win.
“John has left me his town. Although now that his town didn’t have the children in it..”
The demented but funny* ex-wife of a husband who should have come with instructions on how to load the dishwasher invites our sympathy because:
1. the ex-person has custody of the children
2. she is vaguely overweight
3. her mother doesn’t recognize her voice on the phone [“Your father could talk to anybody, to Osama Bin Laden” as though there was another Bin Laden who was a better conversationalist.]
4. she opens a cat-house for middle-aged women with nothing to do but paint their bathrooms and get pedicures
She finds an old delapidated lodge just outside of the dull little University town of Onkwedo, hires the men’s crew team as research assistants for a science experiment on female sexual response, and launches her career as a Madame while she finishes a novel by Nabokov on the side.
She interviews with a potential sex-worker:
Sydney Walker carefully arranged a tiny ipod system with speakers …on the mantle above the fireplace. He turned on a Los Lonely Boys song, Heaven, and began to strip. It was the most interesting thing I’d watched since they put a mirror up for the birth of [my daughter].
She looks for a new place to live:
It looked as if a young architect, fresh from Onkwedo’s own Wainwright University, had fallen in love with Frank Lloyd Wright, bought himself a pile of wood, borrowed a hammer and set to work. Like the Second Little Pig had been schooled at the Bauhaus.
She goes to New York City to meet with a lawyer:
I wondered if his real name was Max or whether the company had merely insisted on something mono-syllabic.
She goes out on a date:
I used to be a catch. Dated three or four at a time. I burned out. And when they show up with those big pocketbooks I know I am in trouble… They bring their own sex toys. Is that progress? I feel like the Hoover guy….
“Don’t you know I’m going to live happily ever after anyway?”
After painting, waxing, polishing, wallpapering, and flowering up her old Nantucket house, Nan tells Sara about a man she met and loved. Sarah replies: but wouldn’t it be nice if you met him again and fell in love and lived happily ever after…?
It is then that Nan replies: “Don’t you know I’m going to live happily ever after anyway?” Thus an overgrammatical, nervously detailed book about women becomes a different kind of woman’s book. For it is a woman’s book. Men do not want to read about hypercritical wives with unemotional husbands. No, men do not want to read about the thousand layers of feelings baked into 3 women with marital problems. But then neither do women.
This is not just another old-woman-who-turns-an-old-house-into-a-bed-and-breakfast-and-finds-X (money, god, sex, success) book. This is a book about Nan, a lovely, lipsticked, free and sentimental gardener who smokes and bikes and lives in a big old house alone. Nan gathers around herself an assemblage of half couples, gay, divorced, confused and lonely. Somehow they mix and change each other — if only for the duration of a summer.