Audra (Unabridged Chick)'s Reviews > The Seven Year Bitch

The Seven Year Bitch by Jennifer Belle
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's review
May 20, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: heroine-unlikable, place-new-york-city, sex-sex-and-more-sex
Read from June 16 to 19, 2011 — I own a copy

Say you have friends who seem, to you, to have an awful marriage and are terrible parents, but since it's none of your business, you can't really say anything about their staying together and having more kids. Well, that's a bit what reading this novel is like.

Actually, this book had two feels, really. On one hand, this felt a bit chick lit-y, as if Bridget Jones finally got married and had to face turning 40; on the other hand, this had the kind of quirky tone I associate with Aimee Bender or Lauren Groff. There's not much plot other than the drama heroine Isolde creates, but author Jennifer Belle paints an evocative (and slightly exaggerated) picture of Manhattan-based motherhood and marriage.

My waffling about this book derives from my feelings on Isolde. On one hand, Isolde is deeply empathetic and curious about the world and those in her life (unlike many of her Manhattanite acquaintances); and yet, she's so clueless and so insensitive, it's almost criminal. Maybe I disliked her so strongly because she was ultimately wholly unapologetic about her behavior. I'd think, 'have you no shame?', but perhaps that's not actually a flaw. Her unapologetic, hopeless, best intentioned but irrevocably inappropriate behavior brings her heartache but also allows her to take her life as it is and embrace what is good (a skill I have yet to perfect!).

In the end, I think I felt for Isolde as I might for a casual acquaintance: bemusement in small doses. When I read this book in long stretches, I started to get a big seasick from the repeating up-down bounce of Isolde's emotional roller coaster. There's a sort of vignette-y feel to this novel -- large chunks of time pass without comment -- and so the chapters and characters seemed a bit disconnected to me. The vignette-y feel is further compounded by the dropped plot moments: after a horrifyingly inappropriate obsession with her nanny's fertility challenges, both Belle and Isolde forget about the nanny once she's pregnant; nor are the shocking, credulity-straining, and damaging things her husband does during his son's birthday parties ever addressed or revisited.

I definitely over thought when it came to this novel, for good and for bad, but it certainly inspired conversations with friends on marriage (especially hetero marriage), parenthood, self-identity, and urban living. I'm probably not the target audience but I found this novel unexpectedly entertaining (if not maddening) and that's not a bad thing!

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Quotes Audra (Unabridged Chick) Liked

Jennifer Belle
“I loved Duncan and I loved being his mother but I wasn't sure I was prepared to be only his mother. Before we were even married, when Russell and I had gotten our dog, Humbert, I had walked him early one morning, and as I stood on a line for coffee, someone had offered him a dog treat. "I always ask the mommy first," she said, looking at him expectantly. "Oh, I'm not his mother," I said, "I'm just his...friend," and she looked at me with complete contempt. "You're his mother," she had scolded, "Poor dog.”
Jennifer Belle, The Seven Year Bitch

Reading Progress

06/16/2011 page 49
13.0% "Mixed feelings abt this one. At moments, laugh at loud hilarious; other moments, extremely cringe-worthy. By page 17, heroine's tool of a husband ducked out of son's 1st birthday with videographer to film suicide note he later claims was a joke."
06/17/2011 page 181
49.0% "Still of two minds abt this book. Sections pertaining to her marriage & horrible behavior to nanny = yuck; sections abt her foray into judging essays for companies = fascinating."
06/18/2011 page 258
70.0% "omg the last two people on this planet who need to have more kids are this woman and her husband"
06/20/2011 page 267
73.0% "after spending $16,000 on her nanny to get her pregnant, heroine has the gall to bitch that now pregnant nanny isn't doing good enough job bending over and picking up toys."
06/20/2011 page 283
77.0% "Just when I think I might dig this novel, the characters are just so awful I regret the sentiment." 2 comments
06/20/2011 page 311
85.0% "The will-they-won't-they suitor has just sprung for heroine to have private maternity suite since she and her husband can't afford things any more. Is this really supposed to be funny?"
06/20/2011 page 368
100.0% "writing review now; all kinds of things are coming up but who knows how much i'll keep. marriage (esp hetero), parenting (esp regarding nannies), self identity, sexual awareness, and when is enough enough."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Daisy (new)

Daisy My friend used to play in a band called 7 Year Bitch.

Audra (Unabridged Chick) I love it! Sounds exactly like my kind of band.

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