Matt's Reviews > Fly Away Home

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
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M 50x66
's review
Oct 30, 2010

liked it

I read this book because it was one of those that came up most often as a counter-example in the whole freanzenfreude exploit. I was curious to see what made up the profile of a novel that should've been celebrated as one of the novels but wasn't, by virtue of its treatment of women's issues.

So, I'm a little at a loss. There is a somewhat relentless focus on women's issues, questions of how women identify and define their sense of self and their importance in the world, and the novel explores that for the mother and two daughters it follows in alternating chapters.

In that sense, for me, it was often a little on the nose-- there was a sense here that an effort was made to present three characters who would stand in for all the other middle class white women, and that sometimes that's what we were seeing instead of actual characters. This seemed especially true with the character of Diane, who I never quite felt like we got a handle on.

Also, and this might be a more significant thematic problem with the book, no story seems to really impact the other... In at least some sense, Sylvie's extramarital experience should have some impact on Diane's adultery, but the novel never goes there, and actually denies any connection, which seems a little weird. There are, as a result, no emotional surprises-- in fact, the book feels a little programmatic in a way that's not always flattering.

But at the end of the day, I think this is a really solid, accomplished book. The writing is consistently good. My real quibbles with the book are questions of taste-- I find realism, qua realism kind of boring, whether it's Weiner or Franzen, and in my experience, neither writer has done what it'll take to change that.
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