Eve Fletcher is floundering. A forty-six-year-old divorcee whose beloved, clueless only child has just left for college, Eve is slowly learning to contend with life on her own when, late one night her phone lights up with a text message. Sent from an anonymous number, the mysterious sender tells Eve, “U r my MILF!” It's nothing--just an annoying prank--but she can't get it out of her head. As Eve makes new friends, takes a community college course in Gender Studies, and reaches out to a younger co-worker, the message continues to haunt her, leading her into an online fixation that threatens to upend her quiet suburban existence.
Meanwhile, Eve’s son Brendan, is discovering that the oafish frat-boy charm that impressed high school girls may not be so enticing to college women. Increasingly isolated, with mediocre grades and a confusing crush on a softball-playing social justice champion, Brendan struggles to adjust to a campus ill disposed to his brand of white-dude bravado. As the New England autumn turns cold, both mother and son find themselves enmeshed in ethically fraught situations that come to a head one fateful November night.
A coming-of-age novel about the sexual awakening of a middle-aged woman, Mrs. Fletcher is a provocative, witty look at contemporary sexual politics and timeless moral dilemmas--a moving and funny examination of sexuality, identity, and the big clarifying mistakes people can make when they're no longer sure who they are and where they belong.
Tom Perrotta is the bestselling author of nine works of fiction, including Election and Little Children, both of which were made into Oscar-nominated films, and The Leftovers, which was adapted into a critically acclaimed, Peabody Award-winning HBO series. His work has been translated into a multitude of languages. Perrotta grew up in New Jersey and lives outside of Boston.
It took me completely by surprise how much I enjoyed this book, but looking back on it, I shouldn't have.
Mrs. Fletcher follows divorcée Eve Fletcher as she sends her only child Brendan off to college, leaving her floundering with an empty nest and struggling to find a purpose. She takes a class at the community college and meets a diverse group of people, thus stumbling into some interesting potentials that slowly brighten her life. It makes her realize that being middle-aged doesn't need to be the start of a decline, but rather the beginning of something new and exciting.
Truthfully, I've always found something appealing in the narrative of the older woman's sexual reawakening, she who has been worn down by work, life, and kids. In fact, one of my favorite movies of all time is Something's Gotta Give, in which a writer played by Diane Keaton has an energizing fling with a much younger handsome doctor played by Keanu Reeves. So this story is right up my alley.
And it pretty much had me hooked from the first page. I sympathized with Eve's hope that she can still go out there and make a connection, as well as her need to be seen as a real person, not just someone's mom. I found the writing, with a bit of satire and zing mixed in, to be sharp and droll. There were plenty of relevant and timely commentary on today's dating culture, feminism, gender identity and fluidity, privilege, and porn's prevalence in people's lives.
The only parts I didn't find as compelling were the ones centered around her son, Brendan. He is clueless, self-centered, and lacking in curiosity. Every time the book turns to his point of view, I found myself hoping to get back to reading about Eve. I know Brendan's story provides a juxtaposition with Eve's, with him being handed so many opportunities and wasting them, while she works hard to create every opportunity for herself. Thankfully, his idiotic escapades did not eclipse the hopeful and heartening tenor of Eve's story.
I don't think this book is for everyone, and based on the mixed reviews, a lot of readers found it to be underwhelming. But for me, this strikes at the heart of a fascination for me. One day I will be a middle-aged woman. When that day comes, I know I will still feel young at heart, and want the same things I want today: to have a sense of purpose, to feel valued, and to be loved. That's why I found Eve and her story to be so riveting.
Question... Has anyone seen this HBO series? We started watching last night -we only watched 3 of the 7 episodes so far. Great actress as Mrs Fletcher. But so far... different from the book. Thoughts? From others?
I DEFINITELY RECOMMEND IT......for 'mature audiences'! - REGARDLESS of RATINGS!!!!
Between the Blurb, and Larry Hoffer's review- (Goodreads member) - all the important information is at a readers fingertips. Larry's review is EXCELLENT -- covers more than anyone needs to know in order to choose to read this book or not. His rating may be lower than mine -- but if you read his review-- he expresses enjoying this book-- and like me, feels it's always great to read *Tom Perrotta's* work!!!!
My review -is only going to contain random Thoughts - Memories - and Memorable stand-out moments....( trying not to repeat what has already been written).
..... FOR STARTERS.... I'm giving this book the FULL 5 stars. It's at LEAST a 4 star book in my opinion ( but I can understand the FULL RANGE of RATINGS that we might see from this novel).... It gets 5 stars from me for 2 main reasons: 1. I read it in one sitting -- did not want to put it down ---was reacting with feelings and thoughts the entire time - it held my interest!!!! 2. Another reason for the 5 stars: Great book-club discussion pick!!!!
I loved how incredibly contemporary this novel is. The taboo topics press against our our morals, judgements, prejudices, thoughts about being privileged and entitled, righteousness, arrogance, anger, erotic thoughts, integrity, ethics, flexible and/or rigid points of view, profanity and crude language, empty sex, and frivolous fantasy vs. conciliatory responsible choices.
Major and minor themes are all worthy of discussions with interesting characters: .....The Milf.....DIRECTOR of the SENIOR CENTER, DIVORCED, a PORN HABIT, attends night classes twice a week taking a "Gender and Society" class: Eve Fletcher. .....There is the college JOCK - Brendan Fletcher. --- Lacrosse player ...a lifetime jock since a child... party guy! .....A High School petite cheerleader -Becca Dilulio. .....A model employee at the Senior Center, works for Mrs. Fletcher: Amanda Olney:..... Amanda is covered with tattoos. She has a cobra wrapped around her leg, a grenade on her breast, the anarchist bomb on her thigh, and the meat cleaver---"the only one she truly regretted -- dripping blood on her upper arm". .....A feminist who was attracted to jocks: Amber: who was involved with an organization for Austism Awareness. .....A FUNNY SCENE.....( I won't give it away) >> is when Amanda takes a Bikram Yoga class. I was laughing sooooo HARD. Anybody who has taken years of Bikram Yoga is in for a treat. TOM PERROTTA impressed the hell out of me - from the class - to the ladies locker room. He not only knows ...'details' - of details - about the 26 postures -the chatter and looks in the ladies locker room, about the front row yoga goddesses ( hey-- I was a front-row Bikram girl... does that make me a goddess, too...haha), .... but he knew precisely about the sweaty-speedo-men...."dripping like faucets" throughout the 90 minute class. I was in hysterics..... wondering if Tom Perrotta was one of these men? He could NOT have known 'women' any better - if he 'were' a woman!!! ......OH MY GOSH.... THIS BOOK IS A RIOT OF FUN... the more I think about it. My husband was getting a little 'too' turned on with me describing a few of the naughty scenes.... ALL IN FUN.....but a SERIOUS UNDERSCORE worth talking about!!? .....A transgender Professor, .....A girl in a wheelchair, .....A handsome black man .....A brilliant Indian College Student, .....A Bro' college roommate, .....Duct-tape and a Port-A-Potty... .....Way too many Vodka shots...pizza and beer. .....A Fat guy, thin college white girls in bikinis with long straight silky hair .....Julian Spitzer.... an 18 year old skateboarding guy who lusts after Mrs. Fletcher .....Ted..... Mrs. Fletcher's ex husband ..... ( he has a wife and little boy Jon Jon with autism) .....More themes ... politics... feminism....racism....rapist...people with disabilities....the LGBT Community, diversity of all types. Amber .... for example ....was "a passionate opponent for capitalism, patriarchy, racism, homophobia, transphobia, rape culture, bullying, and micro aggression in all forms"!!!! AMEN AMBER!!! .....In one scene -- I started singing Katy Perry's song..."I KISSED A GIRL".... then could not stop singing.... so I put on the music for a little sing&dance break!
I LIKED IT!!! Disarmingly brave.....tackles serious topics and is totally engaging!!
With books like Election, The Abstinence Teacher, The Leftovers, and Little Children, Tom Perrotta has proven to be a master commentator on the foibles of society, on people's attitudes toward love, sex, relationships, religion, parenthood, and morality. He has a wry wit and isn't afraid to expose his characters' flaws, and he does so again in his newest novel, Mrs. Fletcher.
A divorcee in her mid-40s, Eve Fletcher is at a bit of a crossroads. Her only son has left for college, leaving her completely alone for the first time. As she starts trying to figure out how to fill that loneliness, she gets a random text one night from a number she doesn't recognize, which tells her, "U R my MILF!" The text throws her for quite a loop, and as she tries to figure out who might have sent it to her, she suddenly finds herself on the internet, following an interesting chain which leads her to milfateria.com, a porn website she can't seem to tear herself away from.
"What that meant, Eve realized, was that you couldn't really say, I'm not a MILF, because a MILF was in the eye of the beholder. The other thing she'd learned was that you shouldn't google the term if you didn't want to find yourself swimming in an ocean of porn."
As Eve tries to fight her growing porn habit (or is it an addiction?), the videos she watches every day sends her mind into territory she had never thought about before, territory which has the potential to make things difficult in her job as executive director of a local senior center, as well as make her look at people and situations with a very different eye. She isn't sure which end is up, or with whom she wants to end up.
Meanwhile, Eve's son Brendan, a jock and, quite simply, a bit of a douchebag, is having a tough time adjusting to college. He's the type of guy who has multiple shirtless pictures of himself on his Facebook page, because if you look good shirtless, shouldn't you show your body off? Brendan had thought college would be an endless parade of parties, drinking, drugs, and, perhaps most importantly, sex with a wide assortment of women. But with his roommate mostly AWOL, and most of his friends into their own things, it turns out girls don't like it when you call them things like "slut" and "bitch," and college doesn't go so well when you barely concentrate on your classes.
Eve and Brendan both find themselves confronting the after-effects of mistakes they make, mistakes which cause both of them to despair in very different ways. Can Eve overcome her porn habit and find her way to a "real" relationship? Is college the right path for Brendan, and if so, will he find people who think the way he does, or will he need to be the one who changes?
Mrs. Fletcher is a fascinating, fairly explicit look at how our attitudes toward sex, sexuality, relationships, and morality are formed, and how they change. It shows that when sex is all you think about, and you think with your libido instead of your brain or your heart, the direction you move in is probably going to get you in trouble. It's also a book about finding happiness with yourself before you can find someone else.
I love the way Perrotta combines humor with social commentary. While his books have dealt with sexuality before, this was a pretty frank book, and it touched on some very interesting territory, territory which may make some uncomfortable. It's definitely very thought-provoking.
These characters, particularly Brendan, aren't particularly sympathetic—they make a lot of stupid mistakes and sometimes don't even realize they're doing so. I found myself amazed at what Eve got herself into, and how she thought, but at the same time, she wasn't willing to speak up to her son about the way he was behaving.
I enjoyed this book, but I don't think this ranks up there among Perrotta's best. Still, he writes like very few other authors out there, and it's always great to read his work.
NetGalley and Scribner provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!
I have no clue how to rate this book. I'm just gonna go straight down the line with a three. It's one of those that have characters that you really don't like..but you cannot look away. I wanted all the juicy dirt on them.
Eva is sending off her son Brendan to college. She is facing a empty nest since she was recently divorced and is unsure of what to do with herself. She gets a text one night that says "U R my MILF!"..so she googles. And ends up on a porn site called MILFateria.com, that she promptly becomes addicted to watching every night.
You also get viewpoints of her son Brendan. Who is a total little turdhead. He has so much white privilege going that I just wanted to jump in this book and smack the snit out of him. For example, his teenage girl friend (that he recently broke up with) shows up the morning he leaves to go to college for a surprise blowy. His mom over hears him saying "suck it bitch"..among other things. Now if that triggers your feminist rant..just stay away from this book. You ain't gonna be happy.
This book takes on all kinds of hot topics, including one story-line of a trans-gendered professor. She has became a woman after many years of denying who she really was. (She was one of the few characters in this book that I actually liked) She is very open about her transition and is open to talking about her experiences. AND she faces some small minded flack because of it. See that's something I see as real world. I think that talking about this sort of thing makes it more acceptable. I'll get bashed for that I'm sure, because a few years ago there was someone who was undergoing changes on frigging GR and if someone asked a question they got their internet hand smacked? I kept wondering why????! That's how people learn! You can't ask questions..it's all just supposed to be accepted from the get go even though the whole thing gets twisted and confusing. They can talk about it but no questions can be asked? I wonder about the world sometimes. There probably needs to be a stamp that you get...
This book breaks some of those barriers about several subjects. AND it does a good job of making you question your preconceived notions. Even when some of them are sorta dumb (and yes, dumb happens in this book also.) Throw that shit to the wind and dive into this book. Some of the stuff in it will make you cringe and some of it will make you think. AND thinking ain't bad. This was my first Tom Perrotta book and if this is how the guy writes line me up for some more.
Perrota is whimsy and hard core realism in equal measure and I loved The Leftovers and Little Children, but this slice of life story about a middle aged woman who seeks sex and companionship in all the wrong places after her self obsessed son goes off to college, left me feeling unsettled. It is as if the author discovered the acronym MILF, found it hilarious, and wanted to repeat it ad nauseum. Poor Mrs. Fletcher, she deserves better, because you know all women care about is their sons and getting a new husband. Ugh!
I'm not sure what it was about Mrs. Fletcher, but I found it completely satisfying. It felt smart, with a touch of humour, dealing with real emotions and contemporary issues, without being pretentious or condescending. Mrs. Fletcher -- Eve -- is 47, divorced and the mother 19 year old Brendan. The story is told from a few points of view, but mostly through Eve and Brendan's eyes. Eve is a great character -- nice, good looking on the outside but with an inner psychic and sexual restlessness that get her into complex situations. Brendan is not so nice on the outside -- a bit nicer on the inside than he lets on -- and he too is having trouble finding his footing. The end is a bit predictable but I found myself happily entertained by this one -- awed at how well Perrotta gets into all of his characters' heads. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta is a 2017 Scribner publication.
Suburbia at its most sardonic-
I haven’t read Tom Perrotta’s previous novels, although I have seen the movie, ‘Election’, so I was marginally familiar with the name.
Reading the blurb, I had the impression this book was humorous, maybe satirical, and certainly offbeat. It was all those things, for me at least, but I wasn’t prepared for the path the novel took me on.
Mrs. Fletcher, is Eve Fletcher, a divorced single mother in her mid- upper forties, who is sending her only child, Brenden, off to college, and finding herself at a crossroads in life she has not prepared herself for.
We hear the story from both Eve and Brendan’s perspectives, exposing an ironic juxtaposition.
Eve goes through a sexual awakening of sorts after a crude text message inadvertently introduces her to amateur porn, which turns into a mild addiction.
Meanwhile, Brendan, in contrast, is obviously quite familiar with porn vernacular, but finds college isn’t all it is cracked up to be, when it becomes clear his attitudes do not match up with his fellow students on campus.
I don’t know how seriously we are supposed to take this novel, but to me, it was written in a satirical format, and let’s be honest, satire doesn’t work unless there is a ring of truth to it…
The empty nest, the boredom, the search for a place to belong, for connections, and the almost blasé addition to porn into the average American’s life, via the internet and technology, which as become commonplace.
The novel explores a variety of suburban paradoxes and realities, as well the effects of porn, from Brenden’s horrific entitlement to his mother’s new realization there is an entire world of possibilities out there she has yet to explore… or participate in.
While I perceived the humor, the sarcasm, and the peeling away of a carefully constructed veneer applied to suburban life, I struggled with my personal feelings about the book.
Ultimately, at the end of the day, understanding the novel, ‘getting’ the satirical tones, did not translate into enjoyment of the book, overall.
So, while I appreciate what the author was going for, I suppose it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Thankfully, the book is not all that long, nor is it in any way ‘heavy’ reading, so I breezed through it quickly. I can’t say this book will remain in consciousness for too long, but it worked as a diversion and palate cleanser, if nothing else.
I started this book with my morning coffee on Saturday and quickly confirmed (once again) this about Perrotta . . . .
This is the story of Eve Fletcher, a woman who has just become an empty nester after dropping her son Brock Turner Brendan off at college. After raising Brock Brendan as a single mother for a good portion of his life, Mrs. Fletcher worries that she won’t know how to cope with being alone. But maybe all of her concern was for naught . . . .
“It wasn’t even true that there was nothing new in her life. For one thing, she was taking a class in Gender Studies and actually learning something. And, oh yeah, she’d also gone and gotten herself addicted to internet porn, not that that was anything to brag about.”
It also turns out Mrs. Fletcher is quite the . . . . .
And over the course of the book has a sort of sexual reawakening where she not only logs on to the intertubes every night in order to search out the latest offerings on milfateria.com, but also dips her toe in the lady pond, is courted by local meatheads and also becomes a modernized version of . . . . .
“You’ve given this some thought,” she muttered. Julian looked at her. His face was serious, full of adult longing. It was like she could see right through the college boy to the man he would one day become. “It’s all I fucking think about.”
If you can’t tell from the above, this isn’t a book for everyone. Perrotta definitely is a polarizing author and if your M.O. is to bitch about him and all of the offenses he commits in any given novel, I have this to say to you . . . .
Perrotta owns his shit. He doesn’t write anything that’s warm and fuzzy. He doesn’t even bother attempting to provide an “unreliable” narrator in order to pull his punches– he flat out gives you the worst of the worst. And this time he (a man *gasp*) comes face to face with the subject of sexuality and gender and dares to write about it from both a male MC’s perspective, as well as a female’s. I have a feeling that simple fact alone will be what “triggers” various readers. However, that’s the exact thing that put him on my “favorite authors” list. He’s not for everyone, but he writes characters that feel genuine . . . even with their many flaws. If he’s not for you, then he’s not for you. Just don’t ruin everyone else’s reading experience with your tunnel-vision point of view.
^^^The above paragraph was brought to you by . . . .
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
I was halfway through the novel when I realised a story wasn’t on the cards. Not that that bothered me too much (though it did a bit) – Mrs Fletcher is all about the characters, reflecting contemporary middle-class American culture, all of which is written pretty well – but, like the only other Tom Perrotta novel I’ve read, Election, I was left wondering what the author was trying to say; what’s the point of this book?
Eve Fletcher is a 46 year-old divorcee dealing with life after her only son, stereotypical meathead jock Brendan, leaves home for college. She discovers porn and starts taking a class on sexuality at the local community college taught by a transgender woman, only to be pursued via text from an anonymous horndog who thinks she’s a total MILF. Meanwhile Brendan discovers college politics to be quite different from what he thought. Perrotta’s book follows these characters as they live their lives until a certain quota of pages is met and then the book just sorta peters out.
Perrotta is clearly a talented writer with a knack for skilfully touching on complex social issues like autism and transgenderism and portraying them empathetically and fairly. The characters, while not especially distinctive, are convincing for the most part but I did wonder where Eve’s attraction to women came from. She watches some girl-on-girl porn and suddenly she’s gay? Then towards the end she’s back to being straight. Er…
It’s because Perrotta’s such a capable writer that I wouldn’t say I was ever truly bored with the book but it’s such an aimless, meandering novel that I also found it easy to put down. The only point I could suss out was Perrotta’s observation that young men these days have a warped view of sex having grown up with online porn – Brendan and Julian, both 19, view women as objects and sex as scripted scenarios where they have to say things they’ve heard men in porn say. Other than that… eh. Nowt much happens, the characters go through some gentle, unremarkable changes and the novel ends. It's just weirdly banal - why write about these very specific things then?
Mrs. Fletcher is well-written, mildly entertaining in parts and it does feel very “now” in terms of the myriad sexuality issues occupying (too many) people’s attention today. But because it doesn’t have much of a story or anything unique or insightful to say about its subjects, ultimately it’s an unimpressive, forgettable read.
So I read The Leftovers a while ago, and I really enjoyed that book, even more than I expected to like it. That’s how I knew about Tom Perrotta, and that’s how I happened to stumble upon this book.
Uh, this ain’t The Leftovers though. Not even close. But here I am recommending it to you. Very uncomfortably, awkwardly rating this four stars because, man, it gets pretty explicit right from the beginning. So yeahhh on the surface it deals with pornography and sex and relationships, and it does so with some very memorable characters. It will take a while for my memory to forgot about these characters and some of these scenes. They all represent a pretty big stereotype, but they are all given some room to breathe and develop really well. Some chapters dedicate a lot of time to minor characters so when they show up later their actions carry more weight and you find yourself caring more. Plus they all tie together in different ways so it’s fun to bounce around to visit different characters as the book rolls on.
So that’s the surfacy stuff that gives the book some shock value and explicitness that can kind of catch you off guard in the beginning if you’re not looking for it. If you’re reading this review though... you’re looking for it so it won’t be as shocking. Whatever. Now to the less surfacy, deeper themes playing out in the book.
At a deeper level, the book tackles subjects like moving away from home and trying to figure out life on your own, dealing with college when you’re not really prepared for it, sexual identity and gender, sexual orientation, social issues, autism, trying to make your life matter and count for something, the Internet distorting our view of reality, bullying, respecting women, autism, senior citizens, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I mean... there is a lot going on here. A lot.
Mrs. Fletcher is kinda right in the middle of the action trying to figure out her life all alone when her son goes to college. We get to meet all of the people she does as she takes her life in a new direction, and another direction, and another. She takes you on some crazy turns and introduces you to some pretty lively characters. Her son does the same while in college as part of the book is voiced from his perspective. He���s kind of.a douchebag.
Sheepishly recommending this one, and I am going to check out more of Perrotta’s work. This one made me feel uncomfortable a lot but also kept me turning the pages. It was a light read with some heavy topics to deal with along the way. Go for it.
I hate this book. I hate the mediocrity of the writing. I hate the banality of the dialogue. I hate the failure of its characters to be anything more than rehashed stereotypes from a million rehashed rom-coms and sit-coms. I hate the complacency of its ideas. I hate the failure of its author to imagine that a transgender professor might have anything else to notice than the hottest cis person in the room, or a feminist anything more profound to think about than the propriety of campus hook-ups, or a middle-aged woman anything more pressing to consider than her viability as a MILF. I hate the complicity of professional reviewers who pretend this author achieves anything like satire or social commentary. I hate myself for spending money on this commodity.
It's with a very heavy heart that I have to pan this book by one of my favorite authors, Tom Perrotta. I found this book to be so boring, with a cast of the most uninteresting characters I've come across in quite a while. It felt like it was supposed to be edgy and a little bit satirical, but for me it came across sleazy and smutty and not having much to say. I dragged myself through this book, which shocks me, because Tom Perrotta is usually so good. This is really disappointing. I was waiting for this book for months. I love Tom Perrotta's writing. This seemed like it was written by someone else. A complete miss for me. Ugh this hurts so bad but 1 star.
★★★½ Mrs. Fletcher is a satire of sorts about issues such as loneliness, reinvention, coming of age, privilege, gender, labels, resilience, porn, and sexual identity. The characters aren't especially likable nor do I believe they are meant to be - they're just there, being used in a book meant to showcase themes the author wants his readers to think about. To my knowledge, there's no persuasion or agenda here...just a few fairly disjointed story lines not so gently brought to the surface for your consideration. This was my first time reading a book written by Tom Perrotta and his style and subject choices interest me a great deal. I'll be checking out more by this author.
My favorite quote: “Girls wear pink, boys wear blue. Boys are tough. Girls are sweet. Women are caregivers with soft bodies. Men are leaders with hard muscles. Girls get looked at. Guys do the looking. Hairy armpits. Pretty fingernails. This one can but that one can't. The Gender Commandments were endless, once you started thinking about them, and they were enforced 24/7 by a highly motivated volunteer army of parents, neighbors, teachers, coaches, other kids, and total strangers – basically, the whole human race.”
Slightly flat suburban satire about sex, gender, sex, culture and sex. Did I say sex more than once? That's because it's the main focus here - this small town in New England has it ALL going on! Pornography addiction, misogyny, Tinder hook-ups, threesomes, transgenderism, bisexuality...can't think of much in the way of sexuality and gender that didn't get at leaast touched on. It's not overly graphic or overbearing in any way, but make no mistake - it's the book's main THRUST (sorry, couldn't help myself).
Eve Fletcher and her clueless son are the two main characters. Mrs. Fletcher is a lonely and unsettled divorcee in her mid-forties with a newly empty nest. Her son, Brendan, is a shallow party-boy in his first year of college for which he is totally unprepared. The story is mostly split between the two of them; Mrs. Fletcher's arc told in third person and Brendan's in first person.
I liked it and it sure kept me turning the pages, but I suspect this isn't Perrotta's best effort. Still, he is a masterly, sly writer. The unease ratchets up towards the end as the many indiscretions lead you to suspect something cringeworthy is going to happen to Eve. The last two pages are funny, unsettling and pretty creepy.
A solid 3.5 that I am rounding up because I enjoyed the characters and got a kick out of the wry twist at the end. Would I recommend this? Yes, but not for the demure reader!
Tom Perrotta is a master at exposing the secrets of suburbia. In his latest novel, Perrotta creates memorable characters -- all ripe for a juicy book club discussion. There's Eve Fletcher, the not young, but not old mom who just sent her only son off to college. Brendan, the entitled, POS son. Amber, the struggling feminist. Amanda, the millenial stuck in and dead-end job. And a whole other cast of multi-dimensional characters.
What makes Perotta's books so enjoyable is not just the wit and good storytelling, but the interwoven social commentary. In this novel he broaches the subjects of porn, transgender rights, texting/sexting, and relationships between young men and women on college campus. Perotta covers these in a "no holds barred" fashion. I was wishing I had read this as part of a group because there was so much I wanted to discuss!
Thank you to Scribner and NetGalley for a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Mrs. Fletcher is the story of Eve, a divorced mother who is disconnected from her college-age son, and her son, Brenden, a teenage jackass who learned everything about sex from online porn.
According to the dust jacket, Eve takes a course in gender studies and gets addicted to online porn. I read Part I (60ish pages) and stopped because none of that had happened yet, and I was bored with the extensive building of stereotypical characters. In 60 pages learned nothing about them other than how I described them above. I skimmed some GR reviews here, and while a few almost persuaded me to keep reading, I've decided not to.
The back of the hardcover dust jacket includes "Praise for Mrs. Fletcher" from Maria Semple (author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette, which I read) and Richard Russo. It's typical effluvient marketing hype that grossly oversells the book, like the picture of a Big Mac in a TV ad versus the real thing. Semple says the book is "hilarious" (I didn't smile in 60 pages); "provocative" (I guess if you've never used the internet); "relateable" (Ok, I'll give her that one); and "every moment a joyride." Yeah, the anecdote from a college dormmate about eating a so much pizza he puked was so fresh and original it warranted the two joyous pages of description.
Russo's praise is more egregious. He calls Perrotta a "wet-your-pants-funny satirist." Again, I found the characters too rote and predictable to be amusing. Also, who or what is he satirizing? Satire uses shame as a weapon. Is he shaming stupid young men who don't know any better? Or emotionally disconnected middle-class single mothers? Either Russo doesn't understand what satire means, or Perrotta's victims are undeserving and his attitude pretentious for assuming himself in a place to shame them. An adjective often associated with satire is "biting," but this book is more like a toothless gumming.
(2.5) I enjoy Tom Perrotta’s novels: they’re funny, snappy, current and relatable; it’s no wonder they make great movies. (I’ve somehow read seven of his nine books now, without even realizing it.) Mrs. Fletcher is more of the same satire on suburban angst, but with an extra layer of raunchiness that struck me as unnecessary. It seemed something like a sexual box-ticking exercise: “okay, let’s throw in some lesbian flirtation here, a transgender character there, blow jobs and porn everywhere, some teens hooking up, and then...Surprise! ” But for all that deliberately edgy content, this book isn’t doing anything very groundbreaking; it’s the same old story of temptations and bad decisions, but with everything basically going back to a state of normality by the end.
I raced through this as I have with all of Perrotta’s books, but felt a little dirty in the process. The shifts between close third-person perspectives are pretty seamless here; giving Eve’s son Brendan the only first-person voice is a canny attempt to make him less odious, but doesn’t totally succeed at creating sympathy for him. I truly liked Eve as a character and wished we could have spent more downtime with her: not while she’s watching porn or crushing on her female assistant, but while she’s just doing her job at the senior center, worrying about how her son is getting along in college, or interacting with friends.
If you haven’t read any Perrotta before and are interested in giving his work a try, let me steer you towards Little Children. That’s his best book by far.
(Here’s a funny thing: in terms of the writing, I was almost getting Douglas Coupland vibes this time around, particularly thinking of The Gum Thief.)
Scour the Internet all you want, but you’re not likely to find a more pleasant story about pornography than Tom Perrotta’s “Mrs. Fletcher.” It’s as well-behaved as “The Abstinence Teacher,” his 2007 novel about a public school sex-ed instructor. Which raises the question of when it’s bad to be good.
Perrotta is an affectionate comic writer, but to his own detriment, he has mastered the art of suburban titillation — and he rests on it. Although lusty subjects thrum through this novel, they’re often blanched. The effect can feel like reading the essays of Camille Paglia printed on slices of Wonder Bread.
One might have expected more from the author of “The Leftovers,” a dark, apocalyptic novel that Perrotta transformed into an even darker and more transgressive television series for HBO . But, alas, despite its sultry promise to examine the varieties of sexual experience, “Mrs. Fletcher” is a tightly corseted story.
The first few pages, it turns out, are just a fantastic tease: Eve, the Mrs. Fletcher of the title, happens to catch her son’s abusive dirty talk while he’s being fellated by. . . .
Tom Perrotta has the eye of a brutal satirist and the heart of a loving spouse and parent. His wit can be gentle and it can be fierce, but always it's brilliant. And he loves his characters -- as, invariably, do I. Another terrific novel by a kind and spectacular writer.
I wasn't sure where this value-heavy sex romp was going & whether I wanted to follow along, but by the end, I was won over. While imperfect, am glad I made it all the way to the end. The audio readers are wonderful!
This is not my typical genre, but I thought it would be like a modern day "Mrs. Robinson" type character from the movie The Graduate (which I loved!). It wasn't at all. Mrs. Fletcher is a middle aged divorced mom of a teenager. She ends up hooking up with a guy the same age as her son. Her son just left for college and is out of the house. The author is very "witty" and it has some good laughs, but definitely "R" rated. In the end, it wasn't really for me.
This was a fun read, and great in audio. Several characters are facing major transitions in their life - Eve Fletcher is a divorced empty nester, but still fairly attractive. After she drops her son off at college (with his stuff that SHE packed up), she also decides to go to college and signs up for a class about gender and society at the local community college. Her son Brendan is not prepared for adulthood, not even the adulthood light version of college, and the audiobook narrator for his sections is pretty perfect at pulling off a slightly whiny, slightly entitled, clueless college boy. There are a sprinkling of other narrators that pull in voices of some of the minor characters, and that adds nice variety. A word to all authors from this point forward though - I listened to this audiobook on my laptop because I had a review copy, so I listened without headphones. One of the characters had the name Alexa, and since we have an Amazon Echo Dot downstairs, Alexa kept talking back and hijinks ensued. No more characters named Alexa, okay?
There is a lot about sex in this book. Eve overhears her son calling his girlfriend names as they have one last sexual encounter before college and decides not to say anything (but this comes back in the story later in a great way), Eve discovers internet porn, Eve learns about transgender people through her community college class, and explores her sexuality in other small ways with interactions with others. True to Perrotta's writing of American suburbia, it isn't particularly enticing, but fairly realistic. People talk up their desires more than they act on them, or when they do act on them, the results are disappointing. Pretty much the best part of most of what happens is that they can say it happened!
Some of the Brendan story line doesn't resolve the way I wanted it too, or maybe a direction I thought it was headed was dropped. The name calling comes back around as his own porn watching has negatively impacted his sexual interactions with women, and college women are not as forgiving as highschool girlfriends! But the boy he bullied in high school ends up befriending his mother in the class they both take, and while I felt carried toward a point of conflict there, it never appeared. Seems like a missed opportunity for another layer of potential weirdness.
My only issue with this book may not lie with the publisher or the author, but in how I heard people talking about it. They refer to Eve as "middle aged." Middle aged? At 46? Harrumph. That's just a few years older than me (although I can't imagine having a child, much less one in college!) and I don't think it quite qualifies as middle-aged. It was a huge turnoff for wanting to read the book but I decided to try it anyway, and was glad I did.
I listened to an audio version of this book provided by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.
This was my first Tom Perrotta novel and although I got a few laughs and enjoyed some of the effects of various internet things on both male and female characters, all and all, I thought it was fairly shallow and poorly conceived. The characters were cliches, the stories were a bit boring, and it seemed fairly aimless. Was this really a story worth telling? Was there even a story: Freshman in college drinks too much, can't focus, divorced woman struggles with dating and the dicey single life, throw in a little transgender character and maybe a little bi-curiousness and voila, you have a great novel. Not really.
Mrs. Fletcher is the fourth Tom Perrotta book I've read, and it's easily his worst. This is his take on the mid-life crisis, and in true Perrotta fashion, it’s peopled with unpretentious, relatable characters in ordinary circumstances. As always, he portrays them effortlessly. However, in Mrs. Fletcher, Perrotta tossed aside his old literary identity and tried something new. This is one low-brow, tawdry read where he comes across as trying too hard to be edgy.
The story opens with a feminist vibe, with a focus on the title character and her college-bound son. It looks like it’ll proceed in this promising way and be about a middle-aged woman finding her identity after years of defining herself in relation to her loved ones, perhaps. As soon becomes apparent, however, feminism plays only a small part. It takes a backseat to a variety of other themes, which also only play a part. Perrotta touched on autism, transexuality, pornography addiction, homosexuality, and--briefly-- workplace sexual harassment and asexuality. He didn’t do so in a natural and streamlined way, but rather, loudly, with each issue attached to a character, and most characters given a voice (with, at times, shifted perspective from first-person to third person depending on the character). These range from the more relevant (Mrs. Fletcher’s son) to the most irrelevant (Mrs. Fletcher’s son’s girlfriend). All these voices compete with each other in a clumsy narrative that lacks an overarching theme.
Most disappointing, though, is how sleazy this story is. Mrs. Fletcher is Perrotta being vulgar just to be vulgar--and he made that, not plot, a priority. He didn’t explore the social issues thought-provokingly as they deserved; he used them for shock value. Many of the R-rated scenarios are preposterous, verging on weird. As laudable as it is that Perrotta often “goes there” as a writer, this time he was gratuitous.
Nevertheless, it’s a testament to how well-honed his storytelling skills are that even at this low point, he still manages to pique interest. Mrs. Fletcher’s many varied parts don’t connect to make a coherent whole, yet as capsules, they’re interesting. The best characters are lonely Mrs. Fletcher, to whom he gave the most attention, and her unmotivated, emotionally immature son. A whole book about just them, connected to an overall theme of feminism, could be dramatic in a quiet, sophisticated way, and still be something different from Perrotta. He also could have changed this pairing to come up with something wholly different yet just as dramatic. The many possibilities hint at rich unrealized potential.
It’s obvious Perrotta wanted to write a really impactful read--but less is more, and he’s better than this. His quieter 2004 work, Little Children, is far more impactful, and higher-brow. Hopefully after this he decided the new literary identity is a poor fit and will return to what’s comfortable.
As a divorcee in her mid-40s, Eve Fletcher is struggling with the fact that her only son, Brendan, is heading off to college. Suddenly, Eve is truly alone for the first time. Shortly after she takes Brendan to college, Eve receives a strange text message reading, "U r my MILF!" Baffled, the message takes Eve down a strange path that includes an obsession with MILF-related porn. Suddenly, her regular life--work as the Executive Director at the local senior center, taking classes at the community college, and her various friendships--seems somewhat tinged by her porn habit. Meanwhile, Brendan isn't finding college all he thought it would be. His fellow chauvinistic/jock roommate is suddenly shunning him and his partying habits are catching up with him. Before they know it, Eve and Brendan are on a collision course for some crazy and interesting situations.
First of all, don't bother with this novel if you can't handle sexual or porn references in your reading: let's just get that out there. There are all sorts of said references in Perrotta's latest and while you could argue that they are plot driven, it certainly gets to be a bit much at times.
For me, this one was a tad odd. Parts of it I really enjoyed; others, I just found bizarre and strange (and I've read other Perrotta works, so I know somewhat what to expect with him). The early parts of the novel were almost tender and hit a bit close to home, as I'm the only child of a single (also divorced) mother. The relationship between Eve and Brendan is interesting and well-explored, and you certainly have sympathy for Eve. In fact, many of the adults in this novel are so incredibly sad and lonely--and they have some extremely realistic moments and situations.
Alas, Brendan is really just insufferable, and you can't help but like Eve a little less as the result. I rarely enjoyed any of the sections told from his point of view. As the novel progresses, it increases its perspectives--bringing in the secondary characters--and you really do get drawn into their lives. Perrotta is an engaging writer and while not all his characters in this one are likeable, nor do they always act rationally, they are dynamic. Indeed, this is often just a plain old weird and bizarre novel. Some places I found myself thinking Is this really happening?? (Oh it was.)
So, in the end this is an amusing tale--with a surprising depth--that offers a fairly accurate portrayal about society and sexuality/gender. The characters are certainly interesting, even if pieces can be ridiculous and preposterous. The ending left me feeling a little let down, which was a tad disappointing, and kept it from being higher than a 3-star review for me.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley (thank you!) in return for an unbiased review; it is available everywhere as of 08/01/2017.
This was the first Tom Perrotta novel that I've read.
I should have loved it, but I only liked it.
Don't get me wrong, it was readable and very contemporary.
Indeed, as stated in the long blurb, this novel explores lots of themes: parenthood, being divorced, hooking up, gender issues, exploring one's sexuality, pornography, loneliness, Autism, being a young man (bleah, how I dislike these stupid frat jock types).
Let me get this straight - I had no moral objections or qualms about anything that was in this novel. I see some say it's graphic; it never occurred to me that it was that explicit - I don't know what that says about me.
I am puzzled I didn't go gaga over it. While I sympathised and identified with a few situations and/or characters, I still didn't feel fully engaged. It could be my funky reading mood. I was hoping this novel was going to be fun - but I felt deflated.
I've received this novel via Netgalley. Many thanks to the publishers for the opportunity to read and review Mrs. Fletcher.
I'm always excited to hear about a new Tom Perrotta novel. His books are just so damn entertaining. They're funny but also smart and compulsively readable. His latest is no exception. That said, I'm sure this novel won't appeal to everyone. The prose is pretty expository at times and the subject matter (current sexual politics--such as consent and Internet pornography) is going to put some people off. But I really enjoyed it.
Genre: Adult General Fiction Publisher: Scribner Pub. Date: August 1, 2017
If there is such a thing as naïve pornography, this is such a book. The author, Tom Perrotta is a comedic writer. I have enjoyed his previous work, but this one fell flat somewhere in the middle. The story begins with Mrs. Fletcher, a divorced single mom, on the day her spoiled white privileged son is leaving for college (you know he is going to make a great frat boy). His mom hears his girlfriend giving him a goodbye gift, fellatio. She also hears her son blurt out derogatory things about women in the midst of sex. Now his mother thought she was doing a great job when she went way out of her comfort zone and asked her son in a drug store if he needed condoms for college, but she is shocked to realize her kid has boorish manners towards his girlfriend.
Immediately after this incident they get in the car to drive to his campus (of course she packed everything and brought it all in the car by herself while he was receiving his gift”. I did laugh at loud while reading her contradictory thoughts on what to say to her son. She knows she needs to tell him that disrespecting women is not the type of man he should want to be. But then again, she didn’t want to ruin the ride, which she was hoping would be a bonding time for them. But then again, he falls asleep, should she wake him or not? Around and around again her thoughts go as if they are in her washing machine’s spin cycle. Clearly, the book does open with a bang.
After a few days of empty nest syndrome, she accidently discovers online porn. It starts off innocently enough. On campus she meets her son’s roommate (she is very disappointed because he his is a carbon copy of her son and not a boy who will help her own kid grow). Well, it seems the roommate sent her a text with only initials, “MILF.” Well, since she has no idea what this means, of course she looks it up online. It is here where she finds endless MILF porn theme websites. And so her addiction begins. This is when she decides to become a 2017 Mrs. Robinson, not only by watching porn but by also living it. Unfortunately, for me this is when the book went from a bang to a whimper. Perrotta’s spot-on suburban satire stays throughout the book, but the plot becomes overkill after a while. How many times did I really want to read about her branching out sexually? All while having the same contradicting type of thoughts she experienced while driving her son to college. It becomes tiresome. This is a funny book about sex and morality that is way too predictable for my taste. Not Perrotta’s best, but then again (as Mrs. Fletcher would wonder) maybe it's just not for me.
This is an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) book. I received this novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.