This contemporary take on Flaubert's Emma and Charles Bovary quickly becomes a satire of suburban American life in the immediate pre-Trump years.
Emma Bovant has lost her job but struggles to keep up appearances even though her family can't match the pampered lifestyle of her friends from "the Estates." Her dissatisfaction with her position in society, like Emma Bovary's, is caused partly by reading--in this case of articles like "Exotic Vacation Getaways to Enrich Your Life" and "Designing the Perfect Second Home."
Emma's simple, naIve husband is no help. As long as there are no preservatives, pesticides, or growth hormones in his food, he is content. He has no ambition and believes no ill of anyone, which causes trouble when the glamorous real estate developer Bea hires him as a life coach and lures him away to New York, leaving Emma to care for their third-grader Todd by herself.
For solace, Emma turns to their unmarried, eccentric friend Andre. He is gay, attractive, and totally unconcerned with what he calls Emma's first-world problems. Partly under his influence, Emma abandons her struggle to meet the expectations of wealthy neighbors, begins tutoring an immigrant family, and comes to their aid when the corrupt county executive stages an Immigration raid as a political ploy.
When Emma uncovers a conspiracy by Bea and her pastor Mitch Rainey to defraud Andre and his neighbors of their property in order complete their Riverside Paradise development, it is up to her to stop it.
I love literary fiction and humor. Lately I've been reading books set in Iran and other countries outside of the U.S. I taught English and World Literature at a community college for many years. My doctorate is in Comparative Literature.
Emma lost her job, her husband Charles does not making as much as Emma feels he could. It is a struggle for the two of them to live up to their middle class expectations. Charles is offered a job as a "life coach", to Emma's dismay, which takes him out of town. Left with their young son, and their eccentric friend Andre for companionship.
Emma is not happy, life is not going how she planned. Then she discovers a conspiracy among some real estate developers to try and take property away from Andre and others. She tries to help Andre but may be in over her head, add to it her marital problems making (her) life tougher.
A fast paced original story with well developed characters. Emma and Andre are very likable, they make an odd pair, but have a good friendship. Charles has his quirks, that at times are (very) trying for Emma. I am still not sure if I like him.
With raw emotions , drama, and tense moments, I was hooked from the first page until the end. Overall I greatly enjoyed First World Problems and feel others will as well. I highly recommend to all.
I received a copy of this selection from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was a nice fresh take on a classic. I felt all the things that Emma was going through - the frustration, anger, exasperation, and finally, fulfillment. I loved and hated the characters that played a part and this is a sign of a well-written piece.
A Total Change of Scene Prepare for a big shift in time and scene from Keechʼs previous novel. This one is set in contemporary America. Yet the witty humor, vivid characters, and clever plot show it is the same author. Actually, the two main characters from A Hundred Veils make a cameo appearance in this one. They are older and living in an American suburb, and we finally get an answer to the question: what happened to Marco and Mastaneh?
First World Problems is about Emma, at first despondent about not being able to keep up with the “executive” lifestyle of her friend Britney or the other PTA moms. But when she meets a poor immigrant family from Vietnam and befriends some Central American immigrants, she soon sees how insignificant her own first-world problems are.
Emma also finds out that the wealth and power of Britney and others is based on dishonest dealings. A real estate developer, a hypocritical pastor, Britney’s husband, and the County Executive are defrauding jobless fishermen of their waterfront bungalows in order to tear them down and build an exclusive tract to be called Riverside Paradise.
Emma takes up arms against this corruption when the developer, Bea, tries to seduce her husband. She gets even deeper into the fight when Bea and the others try to cheat her friend Andre out of his house. Andre, a delightful character, doesn’t work, reads everything from political history to primitive anthropology, and comes out of his shack by the river now and then to present friends with his thoughts. First-world problems are the farthest thing from his mind. Emma had dated him in college until she realized he was gay. Now, with her husband in New York with Bea, a relationship of sorts with Andre is rekindled.
Despite the serious subject of the novel, its most attractive feature is the humor. Pastor Rainey is a villain, but his money-raising sermon, at which Emma’s son says he looks like the muppet Statler, is as funny as it is evil. And even when Emma is in trouble, her snarky observations make me laugh. This is a serious critique of social problems, and yet the author never fails to bring out the comedy that underlies what people do. In that sense, it is like A Hundred Veils.
“First World Problems” revolves around Bovants – Charles, Emma and their son Todd.. Charles and Emma define themselves as a middle-class family. However, with Emma losing her job from Envirotech and Charles isn’t earning enough working as a social worker, a Psycho-Social Interventionalist, Emma has to work diligently on the family budget, as well as getting a job soon.
During her course of job searching, Emma happens to be acquainted with Shady Park’s wealthy realtor Bea and Pastor Mitchell Rainey.. The twist of this fate puts Emma on an unexpected, shady yet worthy ride full of conspiracies, struggle, friendship and relationship.
I rarely read literature; however, the author Rea Keech has expertly written this first book of Shady Park series, that has me hooked on it page after page and finished it in two days.
I have won “Shady Park Secrets”, book #3 of the series in a giveaway. Then Rea has sent me both Book #1 and #2 so I can enjoy the series starting from the beginning. I sincerely appreciate Rea’s generosity and the opportunity to know his great talent and novels.
I started out reading book #3 of the Shady Park Series first, then I acquired books #1 & #2. After reading from the beginning, the characters and storyline makes so much more sense. Although this series is not the typical genre that I enjoy reading, I absolutely LOVE this series! It is a contemporary series about today's hot topic issues. In this book, Charles gets involved in a Life-Coach job with fake Holy-roller, Bea. Emma immediately thinks something is up. Strange things start to happen. He starts bringing home lots of money, spends much more time with Bea, and Emma becomes very jealous. It turns into a tangled mess, Charles gets taken by Bea and the "Pastor". They had set out to cheat many people out of their houses. Looking forward to book #2! I received a copy of this book from the author. Thanks so much, Rea!!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
The title of this book caught my eye and after the first page, my interest. Emma and Charles struggle to move ahead in their world. Do they create more problems than they solve, how much does this help their friends, family, and community? Love, loss, politics, religion, desire all fuel the good and bad experiences as everyone tries to find their way. As Charles strives to move upward, Emma loses herself in defining what is enough as she becomes intertwined with the complicated personalities and needs of the other compelling characters in the book. Rea Keech motivates the reader to ponder just what are First World Problems.
Brilliantly written, with an elegance evocative of literary classics. An updated tale for the modern age, this book explores the pressures to fit in and try to put up a better front, to act like you are of higher social strata than you actually are. When the media and those surrounding you are pushing you to put on airs, when do you realize enough is enough and come back down to bald-faced reality?
Emma, the hero of this tale, discovers a plot by real estate developers to purchase through fraudulent means the properties of several people in order to advance their interests. Her husband Charles and friend Andre are too naive to be of much assistance. This book also examines issues of immigration and what it means to be gay in this country. I enjoyed this book because of the timeliness of the issues dealt with.
I enjoyed this book. I read book 2 in this series first and then read book one. How the characters are all connected makes a lot more sense to me now. I like the story line and the different characters in the books. I'm looking forward to Book 3 coming out.