Saturday, April 14, 2012
Leaving Sophie Dean by Alexandra Whitaker
Adam and Sophie Dean's good-enough marriage could easily have lasted forever, with them making the best of its mixture of satisfaction and affectatioin, resignation and melancholy. But a complex series of events - instigated not by Adam, or his mistress, but by her best friend - topples the couple into divorce.
In the course of Adam's carefully prepared farewell speech, Sophie has a revelation: There is only one way to make sure that he will continue to play a significant role in the lives of their two sons.
Sophie's solution to the problem of how to best organize life after separation is an unconventional one. For the children, it's ideal; for Adam's mistress, markedly less so.
But as Sophie and Adam grow into their new roles, they discover that acting in their children's best interests does not mean sacrificing their own happiness - on the contrary, they may be creating a happy ending after all.
I very much enjoyed Leaving Sophie Dean. It had been a while since I'd read women's fiction set in a neighborhood that I know so well. The characters live in the South End, Back Bay and Jamaica Plain areas of Boston, and Alexandra Whitaker captures the places so well that they are another character in the story.
If you're looking for fun and witty women's fiction, consider how these elements work together: A good-enough marriage that breaks apart when the young mistress lays down an ultimatum - in response to her best friend's dare/taunt. The best friend is a formerly childhood friend who has her own issues with the glamorous, successful, aggressive mistress. The mistress is a little predictable, but her dilemma is certainly novel and makes for great comedy. Sophie Dean blossoms as a character and, in the best tradition of women's fiction, she keeps us laughing as she reclaims her identity and her life. It helps that Sophie's husband remains likable throughout the novel.
If you're looking for a fun, romantic comedic escape, I highly recommend Leaving Sophie Dean.
ISBN-10: 0446583944 - Paperback $13.99
Publisher: 5 Spot; Original edition (March 26, 2012), 352 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher.
About the Author:
A nomadic upbringing traveling through North America and Europe made Alexandra Whitaker a perpetual "new girl" who developed survival skills of observation and mimicry that would later prove to be useful writing tools. The elder daughter of the internationally bestselling writer Trevanian, she collaborated with him on various projects over the years. She has settled down at last in southwestern Europe with her British husband and daughter. She writes fiction and runs a one-room hotel for solitary travelers.