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review 2019-09-07 17:48
Fleishman Is in Trouble - Taffy Brodesser-Akner

I heard about this book from so many people that loved it and I was reading this yesterday wondering if the author was ever going to get to the point. I didn't dislike any character, I just didn't feel engaged. Brodesser-Akner chose to tell this story via certain narrative styles that didn't work. We have a first person point of view told by someone who used to be close to one of the characters that we follow for most of this book (her name is Elizabeth) and then we then do third person point of view for Toby and then we jump back and forth until the last bit where we get Toby's estranged wife Rachel's point of view. As other reviewers had said I just wanted to focus on Toby and Rachel's story. We had so much thrown at us. I think Brodesser-Akner wants us to get that marriage is complicated, and I got that. I just wish that we had explored the issues that were going on with Rachel more. She felt like an after thought and her story-line was the most powerful to me and why I ended up giving this book three stars.


"Fleishman Is in Trouble" follows almost divorced late 40 something year old Toby Fleishman. Toby we find is now after being in a marriage where he felt like his wife Rachel hated him, is now out there just sleeping with as many women as he can. He feels free from Rachel and her controlling ways and thinks that he can finally move on and not feel as much pressure as he did while married to her. However, Rachel throws a wrench in things when she drops their two kids off at his place (without telling him until after the fact). Toby has plans (to have sex) and tries to juggle the kids and his job as a specialist (he's a liver doctor, no I can't recall the name for it). Toby has reached out to his old friends that he hasn't talked to in a while, Elizabeth and Seth and pretty much talks about himself and the problems with Rachel. However, when Rachel doesn't return like she was supposed to, Toby has to decide what to do next and goes through a lot of highs and lows while trying to parent, trying to get a promotion, and then also trying to get to know a woman that he likes more.


Brodesser-Akner also allows us insight into Toby via another person, his old friend Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a struggling stay at home mother. She loves her husband and kids, but freels diminished. 

We then round out the characters by Brodesser-Akner then allowing us insight into Rachel. 


I didn't feel annoyed by anyone. I got where everyone was coming from in their individual story-lines. I honestly though though without Elizabeth and Rachel's POVs we would not have gotten a real sense of Toby. You start reading and feel as if he's the wronged husband. Until you see that he wasn't as understanding and loving as he seemed to think he was.


We get some interesting secondary characters including the Fleishman kids. 


The writing was good, though I started to get bored by Toby after a while. I wish that we had maybe started off with Elizabeth, then jumped to Toby, and then stayed with Rachel for the rest of the story. Instead we go from Toby, Elizabeth, back to Toby, Elizabeth, and then Toby, and then I think it went to Rachel, and it goes back to Elizabeth and then Toby. It was a bit much and the flow was up and down for most of this book because of this.


The ending I thought was quite lovely though. You can guess what comes next. And I think the underlying message that marriage is hard, and you have to decide how hard are you yourself going to make it for someone that when you married them, you were in love with hopefully. 

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review 2019-09-01 11:55
Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Fleishman Is in Trouble - Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Fleishman Is In Trouble came as a real surprise to me. I don’t know what I expected, but it was better than I’d hoped. It was absorbing with a philosophical slant.


The book is told in three perspectives, firstly by Toby, secondly by his friend from University and lastly by his ex-wife, Rachel. In the present, Toby has his children to stay for a few days while his ex-wife goes on a trip, but she doesn’t return to pick them up. This is the catalyst for him looking back through the years and considering the decline of his marriage.


Toby has newly discovered the dating world with the help of some apps. He meets various women on these apps who are from his home of New York and they often send him racy texts which precipitate sexting, phone sex and sex-fueled meetings. There isn't much description of the sex, so don't be concerned it's graphic. He’s flabbergasted that such a world existed that he had no clue about and enters into it wholeheartedly. It proves difficult for him to meet up with these various women as he’s the sole caretaker of his children, seeing as his wife hasn’t taken them back, but he works around this. People commented that the novel was funny, but to be honest I didn’t find this.


As well as Toby, there are frequent appearances from 40-somethings who are, more often than not, in the grip of a mid-life crisis. I must say I found myself jarred and confused at some of the changes in the perspective and this took me out of the narrative. There were astute observations about the life of this portion of society on virtually every page. These observations also considered marriage and things like the morality of one’s life choices.


Essentially this was a character-driven novel. The plot, Rachel going missing, was secondary to the examination of the lives of those in amongst the pages. I didn’t feel overly sympathetic towards any one character, given that none of the issues considered affect me, however I really disliked Rachel after I’d read Toby’s assessment of her. Something happened towards the end of the book, though, that changed everything for me. I can’t explain this any further as this’d be a spoiler, but suffice as to say it came as a real surprise and upended what I’d read previously. That’s what I love about literature, it’s power to make me consider things from a totally new angle. This cemented Fleishman Is In Trouble as a definite 4 star read. The main thing that held it back from being a higher rated read was the distance I felt towards the issues considered.


The ending, while astute, was overly long and depressing. I was left feeling depleted with very little optimism. As I say, it was astute, just pretty depressing.


Overall this was an excellent read that I’d highly recommend to anyone who likes character-driven stories with a dash of mystery thrown in. It may be slightly more suitable to those of the age range depicted, though.

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text 2019-08-25 18:00
Bout Of Books Day #6 & #7
The Plays of Oscar Wilde: Salome- The Importance of Being Ernest, Lady Windermer's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband (Modern Library, Vol. 83) - Oscar Wilde

For day 6 of Bout-of-books we were told to post a review of something we’d read this week, but I decided instead to clump it together with today’s task instead. My review will be a short one as loads of other people have already said it much better than I ever could, but here’s what I’ve got.


I loved The Importance of Being Ernest so much that I decided to read all of Oscar Wilde’s 9 plays, by today no less, but I’ll get to that later. The play is about mistaken identities and all-the-while pokes fun at the Victorian middle classes.


I enjoyed it from the start, no more than when Lady Bracknell enters the stage. In the audio-version I listened too this part was played by Judi Dench and she was a great representation of the rigidness and immovability of the Victorian middle-classes. She objects to the protagonist, Ernest, marrying her daughter as his history and lineage aren’t in keeping with what she expects.


The real fun begins when Ernest returns to his country home and his friend Algernon turns up and assumes the identity of his brother. This part was ingenious and I had much fun listening to it.


I’ve just read part of a fantastic review for it over on GR that expounds on what each portion represents and where it means to poke fun at Victorian life, so I would recommend you go there for a full dissemination. As it is, I could never do the play as much justice.


Today’s challenge, the final day or Bout-of-books is this:


Stretch Goal

It's the last day of the readathon, so today's challenge is to take a look at the goals you set for the week (if you have them) and decide a) how you can stretch yourself to complete them or b) how you can revise them so you can meet them. Because yes, you can revise your goals! If you didn't set goals for the week, set a small one for yourself today!


At the beginning of the read-a-thon I set myself the ambitious and (I now accept) ludicrous challenge of finishing *all* of the books I’m currently reading. I also thought I’d try and read all 9 of Wilde’s play’s, as well! I had to adapt this hugely! I decided to spend today reading with the goal of finishing *1* book and I’m pleased to say I managed that. I finished Fleishman Is In Trouble and I’m happy I did. I read 1 more of Wilde's play's (a far cry from all 9!), but plan to read another now. I’ve also been beta-reading a novel for someone in the US this week and read roughly half of it, so I definitely read more this week than normal. I’d call that a success. I’m really glad I participated and will do so again.


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text 2019-08-25 17:02
Reading progress update: I've read 297 out of 297 pages.
Fleishman Is in Trouble - Taffy Brodesser-Akner

That ending was interminable. So depressing.

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text 2019-08-25 14:00
Reading progress update: I've read 235 out of 297 pages.
Fleishman Is in Trouble - Taffy Brodesser-Akner

I was just getting bored and then...what???? I love how books have the power to do this to a reader.

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