on October 4th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women, Family Life, Humorous, General, Literary
Format: Paperback ARC
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action-life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office-but not Eleanor-that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret.
Eleanor Flood, the main character in Maria Semple’s new novel Today Will Be Different, is self absorbed, overprivileged, whiny, bitchy, and awful. I love her. In Today Will Be Different Semple manages to capture all the first world difficulties of being a white, upper-middle class woman with humor, grace, and a touch of zaniness. There is a delicate balance that this novel straddles between chick-lit and literary fiction and Semple does it perfectly.
Eleanor is a well fleshed out and fairly dynamic character, she has feelings that are tangible and completely relatable to me. The scene where she takes her son to the doctor after the school calls her (again!) to tell her he has a stomachache. The doctor’s judgmental gaze that causes her to change her plans from lunch (with a friend she hates) to ‘Mommy time!’ I have been there. Complete with avoiding my friends that I hate. The boring (wo)men that you meet through networking or play dates who have nothing of any interest to talk about. I know those (wo)men!
Today Will Be Different had me nodding along at every turn, empathizing with Eleanor’s moods and feelings. Semple throws in some of the craziness that made Bernadette such a lovable book and capitalizes on that style with a fun story, easy reading, and likable characters. My sole complaint with Today Will Be Different is the ending. It’s such a minor complaint but it takes just a touch of the polish off of what otherwise is an excellent and enjoyable book.
Months after writing this review I had a chat with Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books about it. She pointed out some of the flaws in the book – some of which I remembered and some of which after all this time – that I didn’t. The conclusion that I came to after our discussion was that I found Eleanor to be so relatable… the weird little plot flaws just didn’t matter for me.
I devoured Today Will Be Different in about a day and a half. It is highly readable, very enjoyable, and overall a great time. Recommended for anyone looking for some fun, light reading where you might recognize yourself.
Anyone out there who loved this book? Who loved Where’d You Go Bernadette?? Hated it? Thoughts, Reader?