Wednesday, November 07, 2007

New Release Spotlight: Getting Rid of Matthew

When Helen confides in her best friend that her boss, a married man, has propositioned her, Rachel tells her to end the relationship immediately; Helen protests that he really likes her. “‘Oh, for fuck’s sake. Of course he likes you, you’re twenty years younger than him and about to fall over into his bed just because he’s asked you to. Plus, you do his typing and make cups of tea. You’re a middle-aged man’s fantasy. What’s not to like?’”

Likewise, on the surface, what’s not to like about Jane Fallon’s debut novel, Getting Rid of Matthew? She doesn’t refrain from lacing the book with her infectious British humor, and the plot is fun: Helen is about to dump Matthew when he shows up on her doorstep with some clothes, a pair of skis, a guitar, a shoe-shine kit, and model cars, having without warning left his second wife. Obsessed with the fact that her once simple affair has actually destroyed a family, Helen feels a compulsion to see what Matthew’s wife, Sophie, is like. She bungles her stakeout, and the two end up meeting—with Helen posing as Eleanor—and over time, becoming friends. Suddenly Helen is juggling two identities among people who are just barely staying outside each other’s circles while trying to convince Sophie to take Matthew back.

Unfortunately the story, which also involves catty coworkers, Matthew’s estranged handsome son from his first marriage, and some side business about doing publicity for D-list celebrities, is more so-so sitcom than good book. That’s not to say Fallon doesn’t write well—she does, with dead-on dialogue and even some moments of real insight, as when Helen and Matthew sit down to eat one of their first meals in their apartment and Helen dreads a whole future of such stilted evenings. “‘Do you want another glass?’, ‘I don’t know, do you?’, ‘Well, I will if you will.’ Her parents used to waste whole evenings that way. Politeness, that great substitute for passion”. But outside of that great idea of a mistress covertly trying to reunite a husband and wife, the situations and characters are clich├ęd, making it difficult for the reader to stay invested. At almost 350 pages, Getting Rid of Matthew is about one hundred pages too long.

Review by Kristin Thiel, Indigo Editing, LLC

ISBN: 978-1-4013-0320-4, 1-4013-0320-X
Publisher: Hyperion
Pub. Date: August 2007
Hardcover, $23.95

1 comment:

  1. Thank GOd someone else thought this was trash.