Friday, March 09, 2007

#18 - Getting Rid of Matthew

The first thing I found out about Jane Fallon's Getting Rid of Matthew had nothing to do with the novel and everything to do with the author's personal life. For Jane Fallon lives and loves UK comic sensation Ricky Gervais. Ah, The Office, how awesome you are. She's also a successful British television producer in her own right and this first novel, in my opinion, gives Gemma Townley a run for her money in terms of being my self-appointed queen of British Chick Lit.

Now, not to disparage Gemma, of course. Because no one can actually replace the soft spot I have for Gemma in my cold, Canadian heart; but for a first novel, Getting Rid of Matthew, while it's about 100 pages too long and has a real problem with switching POVs, was actually charming, witty and somewhat surprising. Fallon takes a fairly stereotypical soap-opera plot (husband-stealing woman finally gets her man) and sort of turns it on its head.

The main character, Helen, has been having an affair with the Matthew of the novel's title for four years now. Married with two pre-teen girls at home, he finally, after Helen sort of breaks up with him, leaves his wife Sophie. But life with Matthew around 24-7 is very different from life with Matthew three times a week for a quick shag.

Almost as soon as he's arrived on her doorstep, Helen decides it's just not right. After a number of slapstick attempts at getting him to leave on his own, Helen takes some pretty drastic measures: she befriends his ex-wife (at first by accident) and works from the inside out to get them back together. Of course, as it tends to, all of Helen's plans go tits-up before the novel's conclusion.

Why did I like it? Because despite Helen making exceptionally bad decisions, she manages to change her life from the inside out. She's a character you can relate to, a character that has flaws, and one that truly grows from the beginning of the novel to the end. Like I said, it's chicklit, so it's graded on the curve, but it's not as predictable as say a Sophie Kinsella novel, which is already a plus in my books.

Perfect for subway and/or beach reading. Also perfect when you've see every single Sandra Bullock movie, are tired to death of Drew Barrymore's rote comedies, and need a dose of girlish fun that Gilmore Girls can certainly no longer supply.

Oh, and the cover is awesome, by the way. Check it out when you've got a chance on Amazon.

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