Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Review: Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

After resurfacing following Stieg Larsson's Trilogy, I was looking for something a bit (OK, A LOT) lighter. I'm not a fan of the fluff genre, but I needed a listen that was significantly less - well, intense. Jennifer Weiner's "Fly Away Home" was reviewed on one of the morning talk shows as a recommended weekend beach book. It also helped that "Fly Away Home" was also listed on the New York Times Bestsellers list, which is consistently a metric when I'm looking for my next read.

The premise has the makings of a lifetime network movie: A Senator's wife (Sylvie) has dedicated her entire existence to her husband's life - her job for the last 20 years has been "to remain 20lbs lighter than she had been in college". Her two daughters: Diana (a married, mom of one and an over-achiever type working as a  ER physician) and Lizzie (a recovering drug addict, currently working as Diana's nanny). Add a sex scandal: Senator Woodruff's indiscretions with a congressional aid in the Bahamas, then using his influence to help his concubine a new (lucrative) job. The audible description of the book uses the phrase: "After Richard’s extramarital affair makes headlines, the three women are drawn into the painful glare of the national spotlight. Once the press conference is over, each is forced to reconsider her life, who she is and who she is meant to be".

As a reader I knew where this book was heading pretty much as soon as I plunked down the audible credit. The storyline is predictable - wife is wronged and survives as a stronger person. Personal chaos for both of her daughters and they survive (also as stronger people). The theme of personal growth, evolution of relationships and of character. All perfect material for a cheesy made for TV movie but also satisfying for the same vapid reasons. The house is clean, there's bread baking in the oven, there's no where that you have to be and there's a chick-flick on TV kind of novel. It is what is it is - and it is a light, well written and superbly narrated story - and I'll forgive the predictability because I knew what I was getting into when I downloaded Fly Away Home.I'll go a step further and say that the predictability wasn't boring, painful or grueling over the 13+ hours of audio book - which is a credit to the skills of both Judith Light and Jennifer Weiner. 

An interesting point - and a selling point for me was the narrator of "Fly Away Home", Judith Light. Yes, THAT Judith Light. Angela Bauer (Who's the Boss), Claire Meade (Ugly Betty) and Elizabeth Donnelly (Law and Order: SVU). I like her voice and I've liked the characters she has portrayed - particularly her recurring role on Law and Order.

Fly Away Home was written by Jennifer Weiner and published by Simon and Schuster Audio with an audible release date of July 13th, 2010. Fly Away Home was narrated by Judith Light. The unabridged (reviewed here) has a runtime of 13 hours 19 minutes. The abridged version has a runtime of  6 hours 25 minutes.

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