Thursday, 21 August 2014

Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon

*Major Spoilers Near the End*

I am in an emotional quandary entirely of my own making. I try to stride proudly around, claiming I'll read anything once, trying to eschew the all-too-common academic trend of looking down on popular culture or books that everyone is reading. So I make sure there are one or two recently popular books on my reading list at any one time. I'm open-minded, dammit!

And yet, when it comes to chick lit, I always feel faintly ashamed. (Or James Patterson, but that's an entirely different story.) I should be proud to take any book I'm reading with me out of the house, read it in public, shoot down anyone who questions my taste with a haughty "have you seen how many books I read in a year? I deserve some fluff too!" And yet, at times, my courage fails me. How can I be a serious academic when I read chick lit in public? (It's the in public part that nags at me sometimes.)

That's one part of it. I felt faintly embarrassed reading this book.

The other part is that this particular piece of chick lit is not that good. Put aside the occasional missing comma, or the use of "disinterested" when the author means "uninterested," if you can. (I can't. Particularly the latter.)

More importantly, I get bloody impatient with these heroines who never make a single interesting decision in the entire book! They are swept along, they get into trouble because they never DO anything, and all their troubles come from their own damned passivity. It's very hard to feel sympathetic to that. If, just once, the heroine actually mulled over a painful decision and then DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT, instead of deciding to delay decision until it has been made for her by inane external circumstance, I might perk up my attention.

Difficult is interesting. A certain amount of dithering is permissible. But 410 pages of it? Too much.

So, I didn't like Getting Rid of Matthew, not because it's chick lit, but because the main character made me crazy. And at the end, the readiness of certain characters to say all is forgiven was insane. Okay, the ex-wife whose husband you cheated with but whose friend you became under false pretenses decides she wants her friend back? Maybe.

But for your ex-lover's son, who you smooched once, long before he found out you had been sleeping with his father for 4 years, to be ready to forgive and forget and make you a cake? After one coffee date? Must have been one hell of a coffee and kiss, to make up for all general ickiness and the prospect of years and years of running into his father and knowing his girlfriend used to sleep with that.


That was the sound of my credulity hitting the breaking point. And there wasn't anything in the book that made me want to ignore the nonsensical ending and remember it with anything approaching fondness. Is it to much to ask for characters that occasionally do things, and then, for anything approaching realistic consequences?

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