Fiction Fridays – A Certain Age by Lynne Truss

This post is based on a concept by @homedad.  His idea is to celebrate the best books written for children, and he’s doing that here:

I’ve decided to do it a little differently and post the book that I’m reading myself.  This week, it is A Certain Age, by Lynne Truss, which came to me as an audiobook.  I read Eats, Shoots and Leaves by the same author and loved it.  A Certain Age is a series of six monologues, read by different actors and from different viewpoints, but the characters are all around the same age, early forties.  It took me a while to settle into the format, but I enjoyed most of each story.

The Mother is about a woman who’s 20 something daughter has got a new boyfriend who she brings home.  The Mother believes that the boyfriend is making passes at her and is devastated and embarrassed when he rejects her.   The Wife is about a woman whose husband has gone missing.  He works at an animal research lab and believes that he is a target for activists.  The story ends with the Wife finding a note from her husband and a substantial amount of money hidden in the biscuit tin.  It says that he’s worried about abduction and has run away.  The twist is that he’s actually a very junior assistant and paranoid to boot.  The good news for the Wife is that she is finally free of a controlling husband.  The Daughter is about a woman who has given up her entire life to care for her dad.  She worked briefly in her early 20s but quickly gave that up and now at the age of 40 something, she just stays home with him.  An old friend from University tries to get in touch with her, despite her best efforts to fend off the unwanted attention.  I was left wondering what had caused her to opt out of life so completely; I didn’t feel this was properly explained in the story.  The Other Woman is about an editor of a magazine who is the other woman of the title.  I was beginning to get irritated by the stories at this point.  All the women seem to be a little too introspective and self absorbed for my taste.  The series was redeemed, though, by The Sister, which is the one I’m listening to now.  It’s about sibling rivalry and loving your sister but hating her at the same time.  I enjoyed the series, if only as a way of passing some time in the car.

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2 Responses to Fiction Fridays – A Certain Age by Lynne Truss

  1. Lisa says:

    hmm. I might be interested to hear that. I think it’s interesting that there are so many women writers who write what I think of as ‘anti-women’ stories. I mean (and it must be clear that I haven’t read this book yet!) that these stories seem one-dimensional – as a woman you are either a ‘wife’ ‘daughter’ ‘sister’ ‘the other wman’, etc. That’s what I mean by ‘anti-woman’. Anti women as whole human beings, not just defined by roles they play. It’s why I get irritated at R4’s “Women’s hour” and the shelves in bookshops labelled “Women’s fiction”.

    • Absolutely right, Lisa. I’ve just finished listening to the whole thing, and the last monologue is Cat Lady, about a 40 something whose partner leaves (after first trying to do away with the cat) and she becomes more and more involved with the cat, to the extent that a colleague at work tries to get her to go on holiday, but she cancels it and spends the week off lying in bed with the cat. She’s clearly happy to do that, but I just think what a waste of life! In my opinion, not one of these women was portrayed in a positive light, in terms of being inspirational and aspirational. I think you and I could have a great conversation about this one.