I’m writing this while it is 34 degrees outside. Thirty four! Did I blink and miss fall? It really feels like I did. It’s a good thing there are so many books that go well with a cozy blanket. It’s also a good thing that I bought four new books on a trip to visit my sister and brother-in-law in New York City (shout out to the Strand!).
Book Read: Mrs. Everything
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Number of Books Read, 2019 Edition: 41
Growing up in the 1950s in Detroit, Jo and Bethie Kaufman are living a cookie cutter life. Their mother stays home; their father is the breadwinner, and they are expected to grow into ladies who marry and raise a family.
But, Jo is a tomboy, who prefers pants over dresses and wants to see a fair world; a world where she and her secret girlfriend can be open about who they are. Bethie is the feminine one, who dreams of a traditional family life. But after tragedy and trauma strike, the roles seem to have reversed. Jo marries and has a traditional family; Bethie is the free spirit, roaming from place to place as a result of what’s happened to her.
As each moves through life, their past never seems to be far away. Along with the stories of the past, the traditional role of a woman is always chirping in their ear.
In Weiner’s multi-decade novel, spreading across generations, Jo and Bethie each must find their truth, and forgive the actions of the past, as best they can. Both will face endless comments and criticism of their future relationships, and each will need to decide what’s worth fighting for.
I wanted to read this book for a few reasons. First, it was a read of the week from the Skimm. Second, I have read and enjoyed Weiner’s novels in the past (seriously go read then watch In Her Shoes).
While ultimately I did enjoy Mrs. Everything, I struggled at first to get into it. Finally, in the 1970s or so, it started to pick up. The pace quickened, the story improved, and I wanted to keep reading. But, boy, it felt like forever before I got there. Once I did, I finished the book in no time.
Some blurbs have suggested that this is Weiner’s best novel yet. I can’t agree with them (again, In Her Shoes). But it was a novel that discussed how the traditional role of a woman, particularly in other generations, defined the choices women (and men) made; a discussion that seems to be popping up more and more recently in these books.
While Mrs. Everything has its merits and Weiner ends up with a decent novel, it leaves something to be desired and there are better reads to be had.
Pick a book (doesn’t have to be this one), light a candle, and start reading. ‘Tis the season.
Next Read: The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland