Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Goodbye to All That

Goodbye to All That, by Judith Arnold.

"This particular unit," the rental agent said, "gets a lot of sunlight. It's really a very bright unit."

Ruth wished she wouldn't call the apartment a "unit." It was a residence, a dwelling. A home.

Not a home like the house where her children had grown up and where Richard still lived. Not a spacious colonial with rhododendrons and daffodils and spirea that Ruth herself had planted, and ancient pines bordering the backyard and towering above the roofline. Not a house with a kitchen big enough to prepare a Thanksgiving feast or a Seder for the whole family and a finished-basement rec room with a ping-pong table, and a formal living room that always looked so pristine because it was so rarely used. Not a house with an elegant master bedroom suite, with two walk-in closets and a sleek fiberglass tub in the bathroom.

This place - this
unit - was very bright. That would be enough.

It would be perfect.

Goodbye to All That, Judith Arnold
This book was a lot funnier than I thought it would be given the subject matter. Ruth Bendel, who has been married to Richard for forty-two years, decides she doesn't want to live with him anymore, and she gets her own apartment and a clerk job at a local store. Everyone is baffled as to why she's decided to do this: her son, Doug, and daughters Melissa and Jill, and especially Richard. She gives vague reasons as to why she decided to move out - Richard's channel-surfing was annoying her, as was picking up after him each day and chin whiskers he leaves in the sink without cleaning - and the Bendel children all want her to get back together with him. But Ruth likes her independence, and likes having to think of no one but herself ... at least for now.

I really liked how this story delved into each of the main character's lives; you could even write spin-off novels about each of them. They all live in Boston except for the youngest, Melissa, who is an NYC lawyer. Jill is a housewife who writes catalog copy during the day, and Doug is an eye doctor that does Lasik and is super rich because of that. The book doesn't really talk about their childhoods much but chooses to focus on the present and the "situation," and how each of the kids (and their kids, in Jill and Doug's cases) are dealing with Ruth and Richard's separation.

4 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received an e-galley from NetGalley of this book to review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.


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