This book was… just disappointing in many ways. It was worse than meh, but not quite the most horrible thing I’ve ever read. Ringing endorsement, I know. The good news is that I got it for free and I’ve never seen the movie so there were no preconceived notions about what the book should or shouldn’t be. I did recently hear this book called the grandmother of modern chick lit which, again, isn’t a ringing endorsement to me.
The book starts with the suicide of Cynthia Griffin, the first wife of a stereotypically one dimensionally evil hedge fund manager. Cynthia’s friend Annie and acquaintances, Elise and Brenda, themselves all divorced or divorcing are the only ones touched by her death. After discussing how each has been mistreated, they decide to form a first wives club (the lack of punctuation there bothers me, I am going to admit) and make those evil ex husbands and their new girlfriend/spouses pay. Yes, the plot is pretty juvenile, and it goes downhill from there. Frankly I am tired of reading about these weak women who are intended to be shown taking back their independence and sticking it to those evil men who couldn’t be trusted. If Cynthia, Annie, Elise, or Brenda were actual women that I knew, I’d give them a good talking to about self worth and the dangers of co-dependence. None of the characters manages to grow a spine until they find new romantic attachments, then suddenly they value themselves and won’t stand to be treated poorly. This is not a message I’ve ever believed, nor one that I would promote, even in fiction.
Goldsmith’s characters are lacking in depth and maturity. The plot is over simplistic and a bit emotionally manipulative. You HAVE to root for the first wives because their exes are presented as truly horrible people. Don’t believe me? A greedy sadist, a narcissist attracted to YOUNG girls, a selfish man who illegally breaks a financial trust for his disabled daughter, and a ‘self-made’ millionaire who bamboozled his first wife out of a decent divorce settlement. The first wives are portrayed as innocent, kind women, who really did what they could to make their marriages work. It is THAT simplistic. If you like chick lit, you might be interested in this offering, though I am sure there has to be better books out there in the genre.