A woman reinvents herself in her mid-30s in Flowers’s debut novel.
At 36, Prudence Whistler is doing all right—not great but not bad. She doesn’t love working in the not-for-profit world, but she has built a decent, reasonably remunerative career for herself. None of her friends or relatives seems to like her boyfriend, but there’s no denying that he’s pretty cute now that she has spiffed him up a bit, and his neediness makes him loyal. When she gets fired from her job, though, Pru comes face-to-face with the fact that the time to fulfill her master plan for life—the one that involves a husband and kids—is running out. At this crossroads, she decides to finally accept her boyfriend’s oft-reiterated, heretofore rejected marriage proposal. Unfortunately, Pru arrives at this decision just as he has decided to dump her. Utterly without prospects for employment or new romance, Pru falls apart, and readers of women’s fiction will not be surprised to learn that calamity gives our heroine the opportunity to build a better, happier, more adorable version of herself. The problem with this novel is that the new Pru emerges at a crushingly slow pace, and the old Pru is not agreeable company. Indeed, she’s so sour and self-centered that it’s almost impossible to root for her. Flowers provides some narrative relief in the form of a bitchy gay best friend and a free-spirited sister, but these more congenial characters merely throw Pru’s uptight unpleasantness into sharper relief.
There’s not much going for this book except perhaps a built-in audience.