A domestic romantic fantasy for maturing but computer-savvy Bridget Jones fans, Gideon’s first adult novel (The Slippery Year, 2009) concerns a wife torn between her uncommunicative, grumpy husband and the charming stranger she flirts with online.
Alice Buckle is about to turn 45, her mother’s age when she died, and feels so at sea that she’s been avoiding her motherless women support group. It doesn’t help that her marriage to advertising executive William has hit a rocky stretch. He’s always been a still waters running deep kind of guy, but since his demotion at work—for erratic behavior during a presentation for an erectile dysfunction product—he has become less communicative than ever. Alice also worries about her children: Is 12-year-old Peter gay? Has 15-year-old Zoe developed an eating disorder after being dumped by her first boyfriend, who happens to be the son of Alice’s best friend Nedra, a gay divorce lawyer? So when Alice receives an invitation to participate in an online survey of long-married women, she signs on. Answering the survey questions posed by an anonymous but empathetic researcher gives Alice an opportunity to re-examine the evolution of her marriage from its steamy beginnings. The set-up also allows the plot to unfold through questionnaire answers, emails and texts, as well as scenes of theatrical dialogue—although her only produced play bombed, Alice remains a playwright at heart. Supposedly following its rules of anonymity, Alice keeps the survey a secret from William although she has no compunction about telling Nedra. Irked by William’s apparent cluelessness, Alice carries on an increasingly intense flirtation with her researcher. Glued to her smart phone, she practically ignores her family and her myopic self-centeredness begins to grate.
By the end, Alice becomes downright unattractive, undeserving of the happiness that the genre typically grants. Nevertheless, women of a certain age will find her escapades breezy fun, especially since the William character is blatantly intended to bring Colin Firth to mind.