Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel by Tom Perrotta

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“Birthdays, holidays, weddings, graduations, funerals – they were all too loaded with expectations, and the important people in her life rarely acted the way they were supposed to.”

The above quote could be true for any of us and the people in our lives. Things never seem to go just as we expect them to. The story begins with Eve and the last day with her son before he leaves for college. 46, divorcee and her only child is flying the coop leaving her to herself and just what the heck is she going to do with that ‘self’? Who is that self when she isn’t mother? Apparently, she is a total MILF, according to a text message. Her life feels stagnant, what is more dusty and depressing than working as an Executive Director for a senior center, how is someone her age to feel taking college classes surrounded by fresh young students?  But not everyone finds her crusty and old, not by far. That the class she is taking is taught  by a transgender professor takes this novel to even stranger territory but it works! How does Eve become addicted to MILFateria.com, a porn site dedicated to the erotic side of middle aged women? Well you have to read, because before long these ‘fantasies’ become more reality. Eve is going to explore and re-discover she is still a sexual being. Some of these moments are downright embarrassing, as she seems to read signals wrong and later feels shame for letting her freak flag fly. Some people will be terribly embarrassed by her sexuality, it has something to do with how we see mothers, I think. Old women (which at 41 and a mother of college aged young adults I suppose I now am) aren’t supposed to be sexual creatures, right? Something to question there, I think.

Brendan is waking up to the real world while at college, discovering it’s not going to be all wild times, the days of partying hard, discarding girls and acting like a general pig isn’t going to work anymore. Times they are changing and this isn’t the college experience he hungered for. He is the sort of guy we warn our daughters about, the ones we regret ever being attracted to.  The reader is privy to his attitude early on when Eve overhears a sexual encounter between him and his current (maybe ex) girlfriend.

With a full of  cast characters, as his novels always are, no one exposes all the things we don’t want others to know about ourselves quite like Perrotta. My favorite novel by him is still Little Children because damn if everyone isn’t a wreck. It’s strangely comforting to realize that inside, the majority are sloppy and disturbed. I personally loved Eve’s thoughts when her ex and his new woman have a child with Autism, because her initial feeling is so ugly, petty… human. It’s such a small moment in the novel but yes, I imagine that is exactly the sort of reaction many burned women would have.

This porn site is really confusing her, and to make things more complicated a 19 year old boy, a kid her own son went to school with is hot for her. For a lonely woman, the temptation is such a taboo (forget that men have been hooking up just in this very way since the dawn of time) and yet… “His desire- the simple fact of it- exerted a kind of gravity on her that she hadn’t anticipated, and found surprisingly difficult to resist.”  Will she or won’t she? Hmmmmm…… Some people are going to stop reading once they touch on the sexuality. It just makes some people incredibly uncomfortable and hey, that’s okay. I can’t fathom being remotely attracted to ‘boys’ my children’s age, yeah they’re adults at 18 but that’s a flimsy argument. But that’s me. She explores an attraction to a woman too. Yet it’s a provocative subject and that a man has taken a woman and written from her ‘sexual’ perspective makes the novel that much more interesting. More so with her being middle aged, not such an easy character for a man to possess. We women are complicated, darn it we are!  So how did he get into the female psyche? I do not relate to her mess, per say but I could easily get into her head and understand why she is doing everything she is. I think this book is more an exploration on sexuality than some big moving metamorphosis. I didn’t love it, but I wanted to see where Eve would end up. Brendan is a bit of a depressing character, because if he represents all young men of this current generation, then lock up your daughters.

I couldn’t help but laugh at Eve’s desire/repulsion for Julian- because it’s so ridiculous and yet, how come it’s not seen as such when the sexes are reversed? There were parts of the novel that pulled me in and yet, I felt equally disinterested in others. It was always humorous, but I didn’t particularly like anyone. He writes the hell out of characters, that cannot be denied. I think I wanted more story, and it sometimes felt more about being taboo with too much thrown in. It’s still good just not quite what I like to read. Eve isn’t so shocking, which is hard to believe for some. The world is full of all sorts of sexual proclivities that would disturb others, she is just a woman who is suddenly alone and ill defined in herself. In fact, her son is more of a shock than anything she can get up to. What people decide to do behind closed doors… well, I am far more offended by his disgusting behavior towards women.

With the subject of  the transgender character… I wonder how differently people will read this book say… 15 years from now.  I won’t reveal much more about this novel, there are deeper reviews on goodreads and with this book not out until August, I don’t want to spoil anything. This book is one for the adults.

Publication Date: August 1, 2017

Scribner

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