And Consider These
THE REST OF HER LIFE
By Laura Moriarty, © 2007
Published by Hyperion Books, hardback, 303 pp
The Rest of Her Life is an event-driven novel about a family’s reaction to tragedy. Kara, the eldest child of Leigh and Gary Churchill, is a golden girl, attractive, intelligent, and on her way to college — until the day she drives downtown with a friend, and, while on her cell phone, hits and kills a teenager girl walking (in the crosswalk) across the street.
The fact that Bethany, the dead girl, was once a student taught English by Kara’s mother, complicates the tragedy. So does the antagonism that Kara has come to feel for her mother.
Moriarty has given us a careful, honest examination of this family’s dynamics, and of Leigh’s vulnerability as she tries to avoid falling into the hurtful patterns of her relationship to her own mother. The portrayal of Kara’s father and brother isn’t as fully fleshed-out as is Leigh’s and Kara’s, but even the tangential figures in this book have dimension and resonance.
There is no happy ending, here, nor should there be, but the reader finds deep satisfaction in the possibility of progress as Kara and her family gather strength and discover strategies to move along with their lives.
GETTING RID OF MATTHEW
By Jane Fallon, © 2007
Published by Hyperion Books, hardback, 322 pp
This jazzy, breezy little novel is a fun read that manages also to be quite touching. It is a story about Helen, a woman in her late 30’s, whose desired career in public relations has been short-circuited into being a Personal Assistant (read: secretary) to Matthew, a man who has extended their office relationship and made her his mistress. He not only uses her body: he picks her brain and gives her little credit for the successes she enables.
Helen falls for all the old lines about the wife who doesn’t fill his needs, whom he will leave once the children are grown, etc. But Getting Rid of Matthew escapes being the traditional cautionary tale, because this time The Other Woman (Helen) wins, and winds up with Matthew permanently in her apartment.
Alas, she soon discovers that she doesn’t really want him there. The tale of her disillusionment is just plain funny, as is her desperate desire to keep their relationship a secret from the harpies at work.
Throw in her stalking of Matthew’s ex-wife and their eventual friendship, and the tale becomes complicated indeed. Ultimately, both the ex-wife and Helen come out of this stew well ahead of the game.
One word of warning: if you’re of a mindset offended by the younger generation’s fondness for four letter words beginning with f and c, you should give this book a skip. Otherwise, you might enjoy a lighthearted novel that so perfectly exemplifies that old adage: “Be careful what you wish for.”