As you know, I’ve confessed before to my forays into “chick lit.” While I have favorite authors in this genre (Elizabeth Noble and Marian Keyes come immediately to mind), most of my experiences are courtesy of my friend Tal who buys and devours random chick lit books at an alarming pace, especially when travelling. Every time I visit her, I come away with 3 or 4 new books. And you know what? They are always good. Really. I don’t know how she does it.
My latest treat was “The Starter Marriage” by Kate Harrison. In The Starter Marriage, “Tip Top Tess” is completely thrown off her game when her husband of 7 years, soul mate of 15+, leaves her on Boxing Day for “The Curved One” – his younger, blonde, curvy secretary.
Tess, a fifth grade teacher, plummets into despair and extreme slovenliness at home – a 180 degree turn from her former tip-top self. Her best friend Mel intervenes and suggests she go to a “Divorce Survival Course.” She resists, but the paper with the phone number keeps surfacing amongst the pizza boxes and dirty clothes lining her apartment. She gives in.
The Divorce Survival Course is an 8 week course designed to get over it and get out there. The course is attended by Tess; Carol-Ann, a loud, brazen, big-haired widow; Natalie, a super in control gym owner and mother; Jo, a journalist lying low; a calm, caring Indian matron; an aging musician; a single dad and a “nothing was wrong with my marriage, I am perfect” PITA. It is presided over by their fearful course leader William.
“The Starter Marriage” makes you feel for Tess almost immediately, but as Harrison takes you through Tess’s meltdown, realization and recovery you become more invested until you are literally cheering her on. She quickly forms a pack with three of the other women in the group and you can’t help loving the “girl power” that ensues. Each of the central characters in the novel grows and transforms and it is finding out how they came to be where they are and moving to a better, stronger them that makes “The Starter Marriage” so engaging.
This is a quick engaging read, perfect for a rainy day or a few long baths.
“The Starter Marriage” is Kate Harrison’s debut novel and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.