Wednesday, March 19, 2014

That Part Was True, by Deborah McKinlay

Eve is a near-agoraphobic middle-aged and lonely British divorcee whose daughter Izzy's engagement is forcing her into a variety of uncomfortable situations. She writes a fan letter to American thriller writer Jack, who is in the midst of his second divorce and suffering doubts about his work. The two strike up a correspondence centered around their interest in food--eating, cooking, and talking about it. The letters documenting their growing friendship are interspersed with more traditional narrative describing events in their lives over the course of a few months.

Many aspects of the story seem unrealistic (e.g., Izzy has never noticed that her mother has an anxiety disorder, a bestselling author answers his own fan mail) and the book hardly breaks fresh stylistic or thematic ground, but parts are quite funny (the interchanges between foodie Jack and his vegan/borderline anorexic girlfriend are priceless--she thinks he has an eating disorder because he enjoys food). The most notable feature of the book is that, as one reviewer said, it is "chick-lit for the baby boomer crowd." In truth, Jack and Eve are a bit younger than baby boomers, but I do think us old folks deserve some light-hearted fiction featuring people our own age.

Warning:  Despite the Eiffel Tower on the cover, the book is not about Paris; nor is it truly an epistolary novel, since much of the book is straight narrative.

Favorite passage:
Too many men your age shack up with some bland jellyfish, or worse, a nurse, just because they're scared. They're scared of rattling 'round on their own with egg on their ties waiting for the mailman to find 'em dead on the doorstep after they've tried to pee in the open some frosty night. Jack, if you don't find the right woman, live alone and write and cook a lot. That's what you're good at, and in the end it's the stuff you're good at that brings you joy . . .

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