Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book Review of The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith

Name of Book: The First Wives Club

Author Name: Olivia Goldsmith

ISBN: 0-671-79705-0

Publisher: Pocket Books Fiction division of Simon and Schuster Inc

Type of book: adult, revenge, contemporary

Year it was published: 1992

Summary:

Elise, Brenda, and Annie were all first wives. A movie star and heiress, Elise had connections that paved the way for her lawyer husband. Brenda’s “family” business lauched her husband’s home entertainment empire. And good girl Annie sustained her spouse on his rise in the advertising world. But when their husbands were at the pinnacle of success, they abandoned their mates for “trophy wives”-younger, blonder, sleeker models.
Lunching at Le Cirque, Annie, Brenda and Elise decide that the time for self pity is over. Now it is time to get even. How they conspire to give each man his due-in full view of tout New York society-makes for the smartest, sexiest, most wickedly funny blockbuster in years.

Review: 

Characters: The characters had no depth to them beyond the surface; that is their thoughts are hidden from the readers and although she makes attempts to give them depth, the author fails miserably at that. Beyond the basic interests not much is known about them; Elise is a potential alcoholic, Brenda curses and loves food, while Annie lets people walk all over her and is into Japanese culture. The men (husbands) themselves were portrayed all the same and there was no saving grace for them. That is, they were all bad. The author did a lot of tell and not show when it came to the book. (Lesson is this: Don't say the character is sad or mad, show how they are sad or mad.) This book, in other words, is not memorable.

Theme: Why was the novel written? I think the author was blowing steam. The author herself was the three characters, while the husband or ex husband was the four husbands in the novel. Perhaps another reason is because she wants to let other women know that they're not alone. Kind of a revenge fantasy so to speak. As mentioned, this is a very shallow novel and doesn't explore the depths, and somehow I have a hard time believing how much these characters are shallow and vapid. Really, would the husbands abandon their wives when they made it? The women are all virtuous and the ex husbands are all evil. It takes two to tango so to speak, two to cause divorce. Surely there must be other reasons that the husbands abandoned their wives?

Plot: The plot is pretty straightforward and there is nothing new in it or twists. I don't see the characters change for either better or worse. The introduction to the problem was immediate from the start and I felt that it wasn't handled well. The wives' role in their husbands' downfalls was not much and the story was predictable from start to finish.

Author Information: From wikipedia: "She was born Randy Goldfield in Dumont, New Jersey, but changed her name to Justine Goldfield and later to Justine Rendal.[1] She took up writing following a divorce in which she said her husband got almost everything (including her Jaguar and the country house).[2] A graduate of New York University, she was a partner at the management consultants Booz & Company in New York prior to becoming a writer.

Many of her books can be described as revenge fantasies; a constant theme is the mistreatment of women by the men they love, but with the women coming out the winners in the end." She also wrote Flavor of the Month, The Bestseller and and Young Wives, which is about younger women dealing with bad husbands.

Opinion: "Hilarious, smooth and sexy." a praise from Cosmopolitan were the first words to greet my eyes  when I picked up the novel. At the time my sister started to read it and raved about it so I thought I'd give it a try. I found a used copy and began. Not once have I laughed while I read the novel, for it was more depressing than hilarious. The basic premise is this: three women form First Wives Club and take revenge on their ex-husbands including trying to avenge their dead friend. While the story was clever to an extent and it had potential to be good, I wasn't sold. In someways the story was confusing and I couldn't really understand what they have done to take revenge on their husbands short of one thing that's clearly stated in the book. It would have helped earlier if the actions are shown such as doing something to a company or whatnot. The Wall Street stuff and whatnot was pretty confusing for someone who is not familiar with it at all.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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