FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE
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BY TAFFY BRODESSER-AKNER
Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a successful New York journalist for The New York Times and GQ magazine, who has won awards for her profile interviews with celebrities, most recently Gwyneth Paltrow. Fleishman is in Trouble is her debut novel which she decided to write when she realised how many of her friends in their forties were divorcing. For those of us ‘there or thereabouts’, there is certainly much to relate to and the Den think you will agree it lives up to the hype!
Set in New York, Toby Fleishman is a 41 year-old hepatologist going through divorce from Rachel, his highly successful and career orientated wife. Left to re-evaluate his newly acquired 'single status', Toby turns to date apps and untaps a previously unknown world of instant sexual gratification and no-strings attached dates. Written in the third person, but with Toby's voice, we observe him trying to move on with optimism and an open mind, adjusting to the new child care arrangements, reconnecting with college friends and managing his career. However when Rachel fails to pick up their children after his weekend in charge Toby’s life suddenly dramatically unravels. It is at this time that you also begin to realise he is not the only Fleishman in trouble.
In this aspirational but hectic “highly achieving” world, the author lays bare the chaos behind the fasade and exposes the sacrifices and extraordinary lengths taken to maintain a seemingly successful marriage, career, home life and ‘perfect’ children. It is a reminder to us all to perhaps slow down, take a look around and re-evaluate what makes a successful marriage and what is good for family life?
Sections of the novel are narrated by Toby’s old college friend Libby and as Toby’s behaviour becomes more erratic and selfish, you begin to see your sympathies shift and the final chapter is recounted with devastating insightfulness and honesty. “The world diminished a woman from the moment she stopped being sexually available to it, and there was nothing to do but accept that and grow older”.
Although comical in many parts, because we prefer to laugh at life's absurd image of success, it is a poignant read and great food for thought!
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