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Mrs. Fletcher

Review

Mrs. Fletcher

Eve Fletcher would prefer that her son’s former girlfriend call her Eve, not Mrs. Fletcher. At 46 and 10 years divorced, she is earnestly embarking on a new chapter in her life as she packs up her son Brendan’s room, loads it into her van, and drives his hungover butt to the state college. The former girlfriend came over for a farewell tryst, and Eve accidentally overheard some very derogatory language come out of Brendan’s mouth in the throes of this mission. She wants to address this with him in the car on the way to school, but he disengages behind earbuds and sleep. The entire episode is not what she had hoped for: after she unpacks his stuff and arranges it in his dorm room, Brendan shoos her out the door.

That night after pizza and beers with his new roommate Zack, Brendan gets out of bed to text his mom. (By this time, we’ve switched to his first person point of view.) “I figured she was probably wide awake at home, wondering how I was doing. She’d been talking a lot about how sad she’d be after I left, and how hard it would be to get used to living in an empty house.” Zack makes a comment that Brendan’s mom is a MILF. “This wasn’t the first time one of my friends had said this about my mom. She still dressed kinda young, and had a pretty good body for a woman her age. But she was my mom, and I didn’t like to think about her in those terms.”

"This engaging novel is at its best mining the territory of how we see ourselves versus what actually motivates us.... Tom Perrotta entertains and titillates us with this tightly plotted romp through our contemporary sexual mores..."

Someone does, though, because soon after that, Eve gets a text from an unknown phone number. “U R my MILF! Send me a naked pic!” She learns that googling MILF is a pathway to reams of porn, and stumbles on MILFateria.com. Soon, her visits to the site become a guilty habit. Eve is surprised that once Brendan is out of sight, he’s mostly out of mind. Her life fills up with her work as the director of a senior center and her new class at the community college: Gender and Society: A Critical Perspective. The teacher is a tall, muscular, attractive woman named Margo, who used to be Mark. The class settles down to work on exploring their assumptions about gender --- their own and others.

This engaging novel is at its best mining the territory of how we see ourselves versus what actually motivates us. Each character grapples in a different way with the central themes of sexuality and gender confusion --- Brendan waking up to the reality that some women won’t put up with being treated like porn stars, Eve trying to come to terms with her attraction to her employee Amanda, Amanda using Tinder hookups with older men to assuage her flagging self-confidence. Many of Eve’s classmates at the community college are older students, but she is drawn to Julian, who went to high school with Brendan. After Amanda has successfully lobbied to have Margo come speak at the senior center, an impromptu party at Eve’s house boils down to a threesome: Eve, Amanda and Julian.

Does our sexuality define us? If so, how? Tom Perrotta entertains and titillates us with this tightly plotted romp through our contemporary sexual mores, and wraps it up, not too neatly, with a mostly happy ending for all involved. This was my first Perrotta novel, and I’ll certainly be following up with his others.

Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol on August 4, 2017

Mrs. Fletcher
by Tom Perrotta

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • ISBN-10: 1501144022
  • ISBN-13: 9781501144028