By Tom Perrotta
Read by: Finn Wittrock and Carrie Coon with Alexandra Allwine, Jo Jackson, Nicky Mandiratta, Jen Richards, Sarah Steele and Aaron Tveit
Length: 8 hrs and 29 mins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Leftovers and Little Children comes a penetrating and hilarious new novel about sex, love, and identity on the frontlines of America’s culture wars.
Eve Fletcher is trying to figure out what comes next. A forty-six-year-old divorcee whose beloved only child has just left for college, Eve is struggling to adjust to her empty nest when one night her phone lights up with a text message. Sent from an anonymous number, the mysterious sender tells Eve, “U R my MILF!” Over the months that follow, that message comes to obsess Eve. While leading her all-too-placid life—serving as Executive Director of the local senior center by day and taking a community college course on Gender and Society at night—Eve can’t curtail her own interest in a porn website called MILFateria.com, which features the erotic exploits of ordinary, middle-aged women like herself. Before long, Eve’s online fixations begin to spill over into real life, revealing new romantic possibilities that threaten to upend her quiet suburban existence.
Meanwhile, miles away at the state college, Eve’s son Brendan—a jock and aspiring frat boy—discovers that his new campus isn’t nearly as welcoming to his hard-partying lifestyle as he had imagined. Only a few weeks into his freshman year, Brendan is floundering in a college environment that challenges his white-dude privilege and shames him for his outmoded, chauvinistic ideas of sex. As the New England autumn turns cold, both mother and son find themselves enmeshed in morally fraught situations that come to a head on one fateful November night.
Sharp, witty, and provocative, Mrs. Fletcher is a timeless examination of sexuality, identity, parenthood, and the big clarifying mistakes people can make when they’re no longer sure of who they are or where they belong.
This novel speaks to every parent of a kid who seems to be prepared for college but who, for whatever reason, lacks the maturity to succeed. In this case, the child is a jock who seems to know right from wrong, but who too often takes the wrong way. It is perhaps because he is treated by his absent father as a golden boy because it is easier than actually paying attention to him and dealing with his new family. His mother doesn’t seem to have the guts to discipline him or make him behave decently to her or to women. Does this child actually see women as “fuck rags” and bitches because that is “locker room talk,” or does he just not know any better? And whose fault is that – is he a victim of rape culture? Is there a chance for him to actually treat women like people and not objects or is he just going to be an asshat for life. Does his bad behavior and wrong thinking means his mother was neglect
Mrs. Fletcher’s journey is the nominal focus of the story, although I thought more attention was given to her son. Her journey is about having put her life on hold to be a single parent as her ex is more wrapped up with his new family where he actually is a good dad.
She wants to explore her options, educationally, personally and sexually. A lot of attention is given to the sexual part; maybe too much.
The story, has a myriad of characters but they are in the story with purpose and individual enough that the narration is easy to follow. I loved the variety of voices offered by the cast. One reader (unidentified) does a transgendered character with so much tenderness it is simply lovely.
I did not feel, at the start I would enjoy the story as it starts of with Mrs. Fletcher behaving either as a door mat or with cowardice as she moves her son to college. In stories with a female character at a crossroads in her life men often miss the boat; portraying us as as either doormats, victims or bitches. Perrotta seems to get much of it right though.