PRETTY MUCH SCREWED
By Jenna McCarthy
Narrated by Tanya Eby
Publication date May 3, 2016
Running time 8 hrs 9 min
Also available in print from Penguin Random House
Audiobook provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
“I don’t love you anymore.”
For Charlotte Crawford, the worst part about being dumped after twenty years of marriage is that her husband, Jack, doesn’t want another woman; he just doesn’t want her.
Forty-two and clueless, Charlotte is a fish out of water in a dating pool teeming with losers. Just when she thinks she’s finally put her failed marriage behind her, it comes back to bite her in the ass . . . hard. Without warning, Charlotte finds herself staring down the barrel of a future she wouldn’t (she would totally) wish on her worst enemy.
Engaging, fearless, and relentlessly funny, Pretty Much Screwed is a story of love, loss, friendship, forgiveness, turtledoves, taxidermy, and one hilariously ill-placed tick.
Oh my goodness! I am not the easiest woman to live with and have been known to bitch at or scold my husband, but even I would have found Charlotte, the main female character in the story hard to live with. I almost felt Jack, her husband, to be the hero when he finally made the move to dump her. “Almost” because Jack was a complete and total A-hole with few redeeming qualities. Whether he had good qualities when they met and married wasn’t clear to me. But even if he had, I figured living with the shrewish Charlotte would have worn him down to the lazy jerk we meet. Or, it is possible that Charlotte became shrewish because he was a jerk.
That’s why my sub-title for this post is The Death of Cupid: It is possible to kill love.
By the last third of the book, I figured out that the abrasive woman trope (is that a trope) was a literary device so Charlotte would be able to grow and realize her part in her relationship failures. Jack still had zero redeeming qualities.
Some of the characters in the book are nuanced as well: Charlotte’s daughter, and her friend Lizzy.
Like the blurb says, the hilariously ill-placed tick is pretty funny. And there are some other funny things in the story.
There is one scene in the book that made me think the author had been at the same restaurant in Boston in July of 1982 that I visited with my soon-to-be husband. Watching, and hearing, a guy tell his wife he was leaving her was as uncomfortable then as it was to hear in the audiobook. He had brought a suitcase to lunch though so,….
This brings me to the story’s relatability.
I’m a few years older than Charlotte and Lizzy, and sometimes I think they act older than they are, but I could relate to their woes. The issues between Jack and Charlotte are very much the issues faced in many marriages. And, what Charlotte finally learns is good to take note of. The characters’ many foibles make them feel real. Charlotte’s abrasive manner of dealing with her husband was a little over-emphasized and is the reason I spent hours looking for public domain images for “shrew,” “nag,” and “fishwife” to use in my featured image for this post.
The book brought to mind a couple of posts I read this past winter. In one, a guy wrote about how his wife was leaving him because after 20 years he still wouldn’t put his glass in the dishwasher, but he goes on to say the glass issue wasn’t the cause but a symptom of his not really taking things she asked for – simple things — seriously. By not taking her requests seriously, he realized, he realized he had shown a lack of respect (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-fray/she-divorced-me-i-left-dishes-by-the-sink_b_9055288.html). The other article talked about not nagging one’s husband because a wife is not her husband’s mother, and nagging can become abusive (I think this is it: http://www.tickld.com/x/woman-realizes-that-shes-been-accidentally-abusing-her-husband-this-whole-time).
I read the latter, and it really has had an impact how I interact with my husband. To be fair, he read the former and it has made him more responsive to my requests. Honestly, the two posts are two sides of the same coin and with this book demonstrate the cycle of a lack of respect and rebuke.
The narrator’s voice has a sultry but upbeat tone and her reading was well-modulated and did not take away from the story. I wondered why the author, a public speaker and actress, did not narrate the book herself.
I felt ambivalent about the book, probably because after many years of marriage it struck too close to home in the sense of a cautionary tale: Relationships take gentle care and feeding, from both sides. Love can be killed.
It was very interesting to watch Charlotte turn into a better and happier person!
Penguin Random House: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/317990/pretty-much-screwed-by-jenna-mccarthy/