Semple returns to ground she covered in Where'd You Go, Bernadette? (2012), with an artistic antiheroine fumbling through her life of privilege as an NYC transplant to Seattle. Married to a celebrity hand doctor and 10 years separated from her career as a groundbreaking animator, Eleanor Flood spends her days studying poetry with an untenured professor and thinking acerbic thoughts about the other moms at her precocious son's private school. Having lunch with a former minion breaks something free in Eleanor's past, and her life falls apart over the course of an afternoon. Readers learn details of her backstory and will sympathize despite the seemingly trivial nature of her troubles (Sticking her foot in her mouth with her poetry teacher! Estrangement from her sister! Her husband's absence from his practice! Her son's enjoyment of makeup!). Hilarious and touching, this will satisfy Semple's numerous fans and gain her new ones. Give this to readers of women's fiction, Seattle denizens and aspiring residents, and people reviewing their lives and choices. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
On the fateful day she decides to be her "best self," Eleanor Flood—cult-famous cartoonist, mother, wife, cynic—spirals from one catastrophe to the next. Her day quickly turns hectic when her son, Timby, comes home sick from school. Hoping his father might help, Eleanor instead begins to suspect her surgeon husband is having an affair when his receptionist acts cagey. Eleanor's ego is bruised when she realizes an underling she fired years ago is now a famous artist, she dodges calls from her publisher about a long-passed deadline for her graphic memoir, and, finally, she suffers what may be a concussion after crashing headfirst into a sculpture. The latest from Semple (Where'd You Go, Bernadette?) is a sharp, funny read, and the author injects quirky elements—drawings, a comic book, photocopies of poems—to add another layer of enjoyment. Though Eleanor is snarky, her troubles and growing calamities are engaging. Some of her encounters are a bit too convenient, and the trope of a "day from hell" makes for shallow interactions between characters, but Semple augments these first-person antics with third-person sections that dig deep into Eleanor's past, finding particular resonance when telling the story of Ivy, the sister Eleanor feels she has lost to a wealthy husband in New Orleans. In the end, the novel wraps up too neatly, but the ride is consistently entertaining. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners. (Oct.)
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