Tuesday, August 03, 2021

A Boring Wife Settles the Score


A Boring Wife Settles the Score / Marie-Renée Lavoie
trans. from the French by Arielle Aaronson
TO: Anansi, c2021.
299 p.

I grabbed this book when it arrived in my library -- well, I'd put a hold on it -- since I really enjoyed the first book about Diane and her middle aged divorce, Autopsy of a Boring Wife. 

In this book, Diane is now settling into her newly single life, living alongside her best friend Claudine in a duplex they've bought. Diane finds herself a new job as a kindergarten assistant, and bumps into Guy, the hunky contractor who saw the damage she did to her marital home in the first book. 

She finds that she's kind of a natural at this kindergarten wrangling (lots of opportunity for humour there) even though it's exhausting. Her descriptions of the children and especially their parents is slightly snarky and very amusing. 

And she starts a fling with Guy after many hilarious bumps in the road (one of them being that Claudine's teenage daughter Adele barges in on them in the kitchen just as things are promising to evolve...but Diane gets back at her by surreptitiously sticking a religious badge to her knapsack as she heads off to school a few days later).

There is a lot of angst about her 50th birthday which is coming right up -- and this is the same thing I found odd about the first book. The way that Diane and Claudine talk, and the emphasis on being old which runs throughout this series, is discombobulating when you realize she's only just turning 50. Umm, that's not over the hill or out to pasture yet. 

Just like the first book, this one has lots of musings about middle-aged experiences and how they differ for men and women - from work to parenting to dating again. Diane finds some resolution to her feelings about her ex-husband here, too, which is satisfying for the reader. What I really enjoy about these books is the constant presence of humour, whether that's laughing at themselves or the situational humour that arises naturally; it's kind of like stand-up in the sense of finding what is funny about everyday life. Sometimes Quebec literature can be a bit grim, so I especially enjoyed this book. It's nice to read about a woman surviving adversity and laughing about things while doing so.

If you enjoyed the first book too, you'll definitely want to read this one. You don't have to have read the first one to enjoy this book, but it's a lot of fun if you do read both. This was a great way to start off this year's Women in Translation reading; laughing aloud while reading is always good!

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