Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: All Over the Map

Author: Laura Fraser
Format: galley proof 267 pages
Subject: finding happiness in middle age
Setting: as the title says - all over the map
Genre: memoir
Source: ARC from publisher - Harmony Books, New York

I always promise myself that I'm not going to read anymore of these 'how I found happiness traipsing around the world' books, and then I try just one more.  I should have listened to my first instinct.  I took this one on my recent trip because it looked interesting enough, and it was lightweight and short.  I didn't get past the first 10 pages of whining, so I put it aside.  However, I also feel an obligation to do a review when I accept a free book, so I went back to it this week.  It is mercifully a short quick read, with several laugh out loud sections that help alleviate the weary repetitive 'woe is me' mentality that pervades this volume.

Here's the story in a nutshell. Laura Fraser is 40 years old, recently divorced, a successful journalist who travels around the world writing magazine articles.  Her lover, a European professor she met in Italy, and who has maintained an on-again, off-again relation with her for several years, announces he has met a woman with whom he can settle down in France, and have children. So "Ciao bella" it's been nice.

In assessing her life she finds  she has a tendency to be impulsive, drinks a lot, hops into bed with men she's just met, and regrets that her independent spunky lifestyle prevents men from forming lasting attachments to her.  Well DUH!  Who's going to 'settle down' with someone whose answer to a life crisis is to buy a plane ticket and go climb a mountain.

She decides that she is going to make it her life's project to settle down, find a man, marry him, and have a child before her biological clock runs out.  She has a series of meetings, relationships, trips, retreats, and other 'adventures' but no luck.  We have to trek through this self-flagellation, revelation as she goes from Italy, to Mexico, to Peru, to Rwanda, etc etc etc.

There is a hopeful ending and that has me saying "Thank goodness".  I'm not sure the book could have been sold without some type of resolution, but it is one that may not sit well with many readers.  Forty-something women who haven't "found themselves" yet, or who are in life-changing situations may find something of merit in this one.  For those of us who are well past that stage, the angst is hard to swallow.  I kept wanting to say GET A GRIP.

I received this book as part of the "Read It Forward" program, and will be passing it on to another reader.  In fact, the first person (US address) who comments that he/she wants it, it's yours. Just leave a comment with your email, and I'll contact you for mailing info.

1 comment:

  1. "I kept wanting to say GET A GRIP..."
    see, when I find myself talking to the book, I find that is not a good sign.


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