Jennifer Weiner is best known for her chick-lit novels, including Good in Bed (2001) and In Her Shoes (2002). Reviewed: Goodnight Nobody ( Jan/Feb 2006), Best Friends Forever ( Nov/Dec 2009).
The Story: When Sylvie Woodruff's husband, Richard, a U.S. Senator, has a fling with a much younger woman, Sylvie decides not to stick by her man. The 57-year-old jilted wife, who has devoted her life to her husband's career, discards her Botox, liposuction, hair straightener, and--most important--her place as the dutiful woman standing by her husband in the political limelight. Instead, Sylvie heads to a beach house to do the things she's always wanted to do. In the process, she cultivates long-overdue relationships with her two daughters--Diana, a doctor in a loveless marriage, and Lizzie, a recovering addict--as each discovers new paths to self-fulfillment.
Atria. 401 pages. $26.99. ISBN: 9780743294270
"In the end, it's not Sylvie's choices that are important as much as the fact that she chooses to do what's best for her. The message is choosing to live an authentic life. As always, Weiner gives us a woman who stands taller, curvier and happier when she does just that." Carol Memmott
"Her readers will welcome the laugh-out-loud ache with which she excavates the complexities of relationships: between long-married couples, between mothers and daughters, between two sisters. ... Weiner is a writer of innate brilliance, yet Fly Away Home could have been better crafted." Helen W. Mallon
"Weiner lets [Richard] marinate in his sins without sharing a fuller reading of why he strayed--and what kind of person he is at his core. ... Weiner dabbles in some convenient plot twists to tell their story, but wisely treats each one with a tenderness that belies the chick-lit formula." Christian Toto
"The sisters end up being a bit too cliched, a disappointment all the greater because Weiner is known for creating compelling characters. Fly Away Home might not live up to those Weiner favorites Good in Bed or In Her Shoes, but it's not a total disappointment." Debra Leithauser
The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Weiner "transcends her own fiercely defended chick-lit author status by running her highlighter across a hot-button question of the zeitgeist: What do public marriages mean in the era of Tiger, Eliot, John, and Billary?" Other critics, however, aren't quite so sure that Fly Away Home rises above Weiner's usual fare. After all, it's the compulsively likable, if somewhat clichéd, women and their issues that take center stage; the less-developed male characters fall by the wayside. Still, as she does in previous novels, Weiner successfully excavates complex relationships. In the end, if not one of Weiner's best, Fly Away Home "is a well-tuned hymn to the resilience of women in the wake of heartache, regret, and the failed promises of Botox" (Philadelphia Inquirer).