November 20

Today will be Different by Maria Semple

Promises promises.

I’ve been in a bit of a rut in 2016. Working partly from home, avoiding most major life decisions (as well as the gym), this book title called out to me like a bottle of Shiraz on a Friday night.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t anywhere near the self-help section. It was front and centre in new releases promising the wit and perspective Semple is famous for. She cracked up millions of readers (including me) with her last book Where’d you go Bernadette and has left a legacy of belly laughs through contributions to Saturday Night Live and Arrested Development.

There was no doubt in my mind Semple was going to lead me out of my rut or at least help me laugh about it. Then again, maybe not.

So here’s the story; Eleanor was a successful animator but after marriage, children and a couple of house moves she is a mess. She wakes up one day and resolves to make a change; to put on proper clothes, go to yoga and to radiate calm and self-control. But of course it all goes wrong and the day spirals in an almost slapstick kind of way.

I wanted nothing more than to latch onto Eleanor but I just couldn’t. I didn’t warm to her character and because of that, nothing she did or said was funny. I actually think I am funnier – well at least my friend Melinda is funnier.

The story didn’t have enough light and shade to be thought provoking or enough authenticity to make me care. Extended flashbacks stole momentum and there just weren’t quite enough of the clever modern life observations Semple is famous for.

I might try the self-help section next.

And that’s my 2 cents worth.