A domestic dramedy about a troubled woman who, for all appearances, would seem to have an enviable life.
Loretta Aronson and her husband, Humphrey, are very wealthy. They live in tony Singer Island, Florida; he drives a Bentley, she an Audi. Humphrey’s business involves mergers and acquisitions, and he’s very good at it. He showers Loretta with clothes and jewelry, giving her everything but himself. She’s at his beck and call all day long, as he does a lot of work from their mansion—and to say that he’s demanding would be an understatement: his needs are paramount, not hers. As a result, she’s miserable, and she’s struggled with a weight problem throughout their 40 years of marriage. Desperate, she hits upon a strategy of trial by ordeal: she secretly slips off to Puerto Rico and works in a greenhouse for nearly 40 days straight. Humphrey, at length, becomes frantic, and when a slim Loretta returns, he seems chastened, and their future looks almost promising. This novel’s chapters are short and, though a little of Loretta’s personality goes a long way, readers will admire her guts and gusto. At one point, she says, “It’s not what’s eating me—it’s what I’m eating” but, snappiness aside, she may have it backward; metabolism may play a role, but it’s also a truism that overeating can be a compensatory mechanism. To explain this, Becker’s (My Name’s Not Robbie Anymore, 2014, etc.) novel offers two disparate attitudes about Loretta’s husband. The story needs a foil, of course, but one wonders if the author perhaps went too far in her portrayal of Humphrey as an antagonist. He is clearly the villain here—he can be a controlling jerk, and not just because he dictates the menu chez Aronson. At the same time, though, he’s probably not diabolical. Is he capable of truly changing? Is he basically a good guy? In the end, the fact that Loretta loves him is meant to show us that he is, in fact, lovable after all.
Anyone who’s ever struggled with their weight will likely find this novel to be amusing and instructive.