Second in the list of books I knocked off this weekend, in between hanging streamers and baking cakes for Littlehazel's tenth birthday, was Attachment, by Isabel Fonseca (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008). In a word -- eh. Frankly, I expected it to be entertaining fluff; well, it was pretty light, but only average in terms of being amusing. In short, it bumps the books-per-month count up, but isn't one that will stay with me much past the time I return it to the library drop box. If that long.
As the story opens, fortysomething American expat Jean Hubbard and her British husband, Mark, are in the midst of a year-long sabbatical on St. Jacques. Thanks to modern technology, Mark can continue his advertising career and Jean her women's health column from a sunny Indian Ocean idyll. The perils of the internet age become apparent, however, when Jean inadvertently opens a naughty letter addressed to Mark. When an e-mail to a new, secret account ("naughtyboy1"), complete with X-rated attachments, follows, Jean elects not to confront Mark, but to begin her own correspondence with the salacious, 26 year old Giovana (masquerading as Mark, of course). This continues throughout most of the novel, even as the other constants in Jean's life are thrown into turmoil. An ambiguous mammogram sends her home to England and her own trusted doctor, where she witnesses the changes in her daughter Victoria, 19 and newly in love, and grapples with Mark's Young Turk of a business partner; a series of strokes weakens her beloved father, William, and calls her back to New York, where she's surprised to find herself leaning on an old flame for support.
It was an interesting-enough story, and saved from mediocrity by a few surprising twists at the end ... but not a terribly memorable one. Neither Jean nor any of the other characters are particularly sympathetic, nor are they distasteful -- they're just not all that deep or interesting. Likewise, there are moments and opportunities where the book could be very funny, but never quite gets there. Again, eh -- not bad, worth a read ... but not terribly remarkable, either.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.