Friday, August 1, 2008

First Wives Club Part Deux

Yesterday I mentioned that I'd read The First Wives Club before the movie came out. Copyright on the book is 1992, while the movie came out in 1998. This can lead into a discussion on which is better, to read the book first or to see the movie first, but that will come at a later date and time. :)

If you've seen the movie and decide to read the book, expecting to find them much the same (as much as that can or can't be), you'll be disappointed. They're almost two different stories. I happen to like both. But before I go on, I need to say that I haven't finished this (second) reading of the book, and am only half-way through it. My memory of the first read is definitely hazy, so I'll focus today on the first half of the book.

Annie, Elisa, and Brenda attended a private boarding school in NY as girls. They weren't necessarily all good friends, but the recent suicide of one of their former classmates, a girl they all were close to, brings them together again. Each, including the deceased, has gone through or is going through a separation or divorce from her husband and each is struggling in her own way with this. The reader can see how well or poorly each is dealing with all that's involved in a divorce, whether it's emotional, financial, or social. Mid-way, the women decide it's time they get some justice where their divorces and husbands are concerned. These women are smart and savvy, and although this all might feel like "getting even", it isn't just that. It's about the growth of each one of them, individually and as a group of friends who find that, although they're different, they share some many of the same problems and emotions.

Annie deals with how best to care for her Downs Syndrome teenage daughter and her two grown sons. Elise deals with a career she left behind for a husband and with aging in a business that tends to look up to youth and beauty. And Brenda deals with being overweight and a husband who has hidden marital assets and left her to struggle financially.

The book, is a darker and more emotional story than the movie, but in my opinion, it's equally as good. It's a complex story of women moving forward after divorce, and taking care of the baggage that led them to it, both their baggage and that of their husbands...and maybe even their husbands! It's not only a look at divorce, but at marriage and the relationships between men and women.

It's an excellent and well written book and definitely worth reading. But if you've seen the movie, the hardest part is separating the two and letting yourself immerse yourself in the story the book tells.

Note: There was an interesting article in New Yorker about the author and her death...the result of plastic surgery, a recurring theme in her books.

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