The Wives of Bath

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Today's book, "Bath, England - the swanky town once home to ancient Roman spas and Jane Austen heroines - is the setting for Wendy Holden's brilliant new novel. Birthing class brings together two sets of expectant parents who couldn't be more different. Hugo and his spoiled wife Amanda plan to throw money at the problems of parenthood, making use of private hospitals and nurses, while environmentally friendly Jake and Alice have arranged a home delivery complete with birthing pool and whale music. But even after their babies are born, these seemingly disparate couples can't escape each other. When Amanda decides she's not cut out for motherhood and Hugo must look elsewhere for a sympathetic ear, the couples are inextricably drawn together once again, resulting in hilarious social comedy, as only Wendy Holden can write it."

Deep thoughts on today's book (just kidding, the thoughts will come from the shallow end of the pool as always):

  • I honestly have no idea why I bought this book in the first place - and it's starting to feel ridiculous that I read so many books that I could say that about. I think I bought it at some charity book sale once and I figured Hey, even if it's terrible it won't be a complete waste because I can still have the delightful sense of doing something for charity. Don't you love the way I tried to convince myself I was buying books for the sake of the children? I'm capable of deluding myself so much when it comes to books. Well, as it turns out, buying this book was more of an act of charity than I originally realized because all it provided me with was several hours where I felt like my blood pressure was rising. I haven't been that irritated since the season of Brady Bunch when Greg got that stupid guitar and tried to be Johnny Bravo (I'm just grateful that I can't remember the words to that song he kept singing or I would be close to losing my mind right now.)

  • And what was the cause of my blood pressure rising with today's book you ask dear readers (oh you, always asking questions at just the right moment)? Well the problems started early, and continued throughout the book, culminating in one of those post-book moments where you sit there thinking Well there's five hours of my life I'm never getting back. The first problem was that I disliked all of the characters - every last one of them, including the minor characters such as the dinner party guest who only appears once and Hugo's boss who only makes a few appearances but nevertheless manages to irritate me more than I ever thought possible. The second problem was that I spent the whole book feeling like I was being manipulated by the author who seemed intent on convincing me that several of the characters were totally perfect while the others were evil. Subtlety doesn't appear to be the author's scene - she prefers to beat the readers over the head with a sledgehammer in an attempt to let us know Amanda= selfish mother, Hugo=wonderful father, Alice= perfect mother, and Jake= jerk of the century. I just kept thinking Okay, we get it, I'm not watching a children's show, you don't have to spell it out for us, draw us a diagram, and sing us a little song about it.

  • And then there were the attempts at humor which involved Jake reusing junk for household items: the plate that was an old Frisbee, the vegetables that were grown using human waste as fertilizer. I got the feeling that the author wanted me to find this endlessly hilarious - but all I could think about was the segments on Sesame Street when the audience gets a glimpse inside Oscar's trashcan - and quite frankly Oscar is much more amusing than the author of today's book. And now I'm feeling a teensy bit paranoid because I make daily attempts at humor on this blog and I'm now imagining all my dear readers sitting there at home thinking Rugrats is funnier than this. Actually, I'm okay with you finding Rugrats funnier than me, because it's a damn good show. But please, please, please tell me I'm at least funnier than The Berenstain Bears - which is actually a really good show too, but they miss the mark every time when making an attempt at humor.

  • And now I'm feeling like the meanness blogger on earth for insulting today's book - even though I feel it's well deserved - so I'm going to say something nice about the book: I like the color of green on the cover. I wouldn't paint a living room that color or wear a dress that color, but it seems serviceable enough for a book cover. Okay, that barely counts as saying something nice, so I'll try again: the book was not graphic about the birth parts and since I'm firmly in the "I don't want to see the baby until it's clean and wearing a diaper and spare me the details of the birth because I've already been to 8th grade health class" camp I was grateful for that.

All in all I would highly recommend you skip this book. Unless of course you enjoy spending several hours in the presence of repulsive characters. I have a higher than average tolerance for annoying characters, I watch The Brady Bunch for crying out loud, and even I couldn't handle it. Or in Brady-speak "I don't dig."