Does anyone else watch the extremely binge-worthy Younger? I didn’t give it a chance at first, mostly because it’s on TVLand, which pretty much makes me think of old Taxi reruns and that Betty White sitcom Hot in Cleveland. As much as I adore Sutton Foster, I just assumed it was dumb.
My tv critic friend convinced me otherwise. Her tweets about how funny and charming this show was made me realize I was missing out. So on a trip to Cape Cod last summer, I quickly made my way through the first few seasons.
And reader, I loved it.
It’s hilarious and charming and dirty and addicting. Sutton Foster plays Liza, a suburban divorcee in her 40s whose daughter is off to college. She decides she needs to go back to work (she worked in publishing in her 20s) but nobody is interested in hiring her. She’s too old, too stale, too much of a mom. So Liza pretends to be in her 20s, gets a job, gets a hot Brooklyn boyfriend, and lies to everyone she meets about her double life.
She has a magnetic attraction to her boss, Charles, who is tall, handsome, rich, and also married. Charles’ wife is estranged from him, she disappeared over a year ago, abandoning him and their two young daughters and their Upper East Side lifestyle. Of course, just as things between Charles and Liza are heating up, she appears. She writes a book about her year away, Liza becomes her editor, and their lives become even more entwined.
Marriage Vacation is the pretend story of Pauline’s year away, written by a character who doesn’t exist in real life. Similar to the book that Jane Villanueva wrote on Jane the Virgin, this is a fun new trend in books — ghost writing books written by fictional characters.
I have no idea who really wrote this book, but I know it wasn’t Pauline Brooks or the actress who plays her (the lovely Jennifer Westfeldt. And on a side note, im so glad she’s not with Jon Hamm anymore.)
On a weekend trip to a friends wedding in California, Pauline realizes that she is increasingly dissatisfied with who she has become since she married Charles. She is a wife and a mother and the manager of their home and social lives. But she isn’t a writer. And that was always her dream.
Somehow, her weekend away turns into a few more days. And then turns into a sudden trip to Thailand, planned in a drunken haze with her flighty college roommate. The roommate never shows up, but Pauline stays in the Thai jungle for almost a year, writing and working in a Burmese refugee camp.
As time goes on, Pauline rediscovers herself, but finds her marriage dissolving and her relationship with her daughters more distant with each phone call. But Pauline keeps extending her trip, even while realizing that every day she stays away will make things worse when she finally gets home.
This book was fun, for sure. A breezy, summer read. But I have issues.
While I get that being the wife of a high-powered NYC publishing guru is demanding and that high society life probably isn’t the best use of her writing degree, I really hated how she deserted her children. I get that motherhood is hard and that marriage is hard. But leaving your VERY YOUNG daughters for a year without warning? I can’t work with that. She deserved to be served with Charles’ divorce papers. She abandoned her family. Unacceptable.
Of course I’m glad that she came back happy and healthy and writing. And that her time away made her realize how much she loved Charles. But leaving the girls was a hurdle I couldn’t get over. A year is a very long time when kids are that small.
Also, Jennifer Westfeldt is adorable. But never in life would I believe that she just spent a year roughing it in the jungle and working at a refugee camp. She looks petite and perfect, more like she had been enjoying Canyon Ranch for the past year.
I don’t know how things are going to go on the show…I don’t know if Charles will end up with Liza or Pauline or hell, even Diana Trout (who is a national treasure).
But i feel like the end of this book is a pretty unlikely outcome — I think the damage that Charles and Pauline did to their marriage is pretty much irreparable. And I think they will both come out stronger and more aware, better partners for their future matches.
And yes, I realize these are characters on a tv show.
And for those who do watch the show, yes, page 58 is kind of hot.