Review: Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon

I don’t read a lot of chick lit, and even less Brit chick lit, and maybe there’s a good reason for that.  

Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon is about Helen, an almost 40 year old secretary in a London PR firm who for 4 years has been having an affair with her boss, Matthew- 20 years her senior.  She sees him 3 nights a week in her cramped apartment.  

The book opens in bed with the alarm going off and Matthew getting up and getting ready to leave the house.  But this is not 8am, it’s 8pm, and he is not simply leaving for work, he is going home to his beautiful house, his lovely wife Sophie, and his two beloved daughters.  Helen’s life is small and pitiful- her career has been downsized because of her affair- she transferred to a different department, thus being labeled as difficult.  She has one friend and virtually no social life.  She’s self absorbed, shallow and petty, and she’s constantly begging Matthew to leave his wife. 

Matthew has agreed to see her over a long holiday weekend, but completely forgets about it during the festivities at his house.  He steals away to call her behind closed doors and she realizes he’s forgotten.  They have a fight and she refuses to see or talk to him for a couple weeks, during which time she makes up her mind to end the relationship.  But before she can end it, Matthew tells his wife everything and shows up on Helen’s doorstep with his bags in hand.  Rather than being honest (no one in this book is honest), she decides to give it a go, because she’s flattered that he left his family for her.  He regularly reminds her of his great sacrifice. 

From there things go downhill.  As Helen and Matthew’s relationship goes public, the office is abuzz, and it isn’t pretty.  Helen is disturbed that people see Matthew as an old man, not the ‘catch’ she always thought him to be, and she is embarrassed by that (although she doesn’t seem embarrassed by the fact that she’s been doing the boss for years- only that people see him as old). 

Helen decides the only way to get rid of the old man is to somehow get him back together with his wife.  Soon she is stalking Sophie and through a series of unlikely events, befriends her under the fake name of Eleanor.  Eleanor/Helen and Sophie strike up a friendship and it isn’t long before that friendship becomes more important to Helen than the relationship with Matthew.  Sophie wants Matthew back, so Helen uses that to her advantage and plots to get the two back together.  Through Sophie she also meets Leo, an attractive man her own age, who she finds herself wanting to get to know.  Turns out he’s Matthew’s son from his first marriage.  Helen finds herself in quite a pickle and I kept reading at this point just waiting for the inevitable train wreck. 

This book is chock full of negative clichés, horrible people, and foul language.  Helen is the homewrecker, Matthew is the textbook cheating husband, Sophie is the wronged woman who wants the bastard back despite everything, the bitches in the office are full of gossip and backstabbing.  Everyone is drinking way too much, all the time.  The versatile F word is on nearly every page in various forms- as a verb, noun, adjective, adverb-  and in one particularly creative sentence was used 4 times.  Apparently it’s the new “bloody”.  There are a lot of British references and colloquialisms that I didn’t get or didn’t find funny.  In fact, I didn’t find anything funny in this book- it’s completely unfunny and unlikeable.  But I must say something nice- so I’ll say that I do like the cover and the title, and the quality of the writing.  But that’s about all I can say.  If I were the type to give out stars, Getting Rid of Matthew would get only one.

19 Responses

  1. Oh, my, Lisa … sounds like this one definitely didn’t do it for you. I’ve noticed many of the elements you mention are present in British chick lit. Despite that, I do like some of it … Helen Fielding, Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes (actually, I believe she’s Irish but many of her books are set in London.) Thanks for the honest review … ones like this are sometimes difficult to write!

  2. Good, critical review. We need more thinking like this on the ‘net, more folks willing to pan works of little or no value. There are too many fan sites–some nay-sayers much appreciated.

    Write on…

  3. HA! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen you pan a book. Maybe you have and I just haven’t noticed. But I’m bummed you didn’t like this because I thought it was a great premise for chick lit…I never read chick lit and I’d thought of picking this up. Guess I’ll have to pass. 🙂

  4. Sounds like a soap opera. I agree with Cliff’s comments. I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving a book a negative review. There are too many books out there that don’t make the cut yet they still get published.

  5. Maybe if they took out all the swearing it would make a cute movie, but I’m not at all inspired to try reading the book! Thanks for the honest review.

  6. Lol sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy it. I agree with you that the cover is great 🙂

  7. This sounds like a ridiculous waste of time (and paper/trees!). Thanks for the honest review. Definitely NOT my cuppa tea.

  8. Hi guys.. thanks for all the encouraging comments. I was a little worried about posting this but now I feel better about it.

    Trish, you’re right, I generally don’t review a book I’ve disliked so much. I’m not sure why I bothered, to be honest, unless it was to warn people off. I wish I had known in advance what I was getting into.. I wouldn’t have spent hours reading this drivel.

    Jeane, you know, maybe it would. I was thinking about Bridget Jones and those films and how fun they were- but this really isn’t fun. Bridget was likeable.

    But, the cover is nice.

  9. Sheesh. This sure doesn’t sound appealing, nor am I interested in stories based primarily on infidelity.

  10. Thanks for the honest review. As far as books go, you haven’t steered me wrong yet…

  11. I’m grateful for your review also! I actually have the book on my nightstand with 5 others from the library and now I know what is going back on Tuesday! It didn’t sound great from the summary in the first place.

  12. thanks for the heads up. It’s books like this that make me think I could get published someday *smirk*

  13. Oh, my goodness! I never expected this book to be about all THAT. The cover makes it look very sweet. I was cracking up at your review and all of the horribleness that goes on in this story! I feel like I dodged a bullet on that one. -Julia 🙂

  14. Thanks for the honest review. I was intrigued by the cover, but I’m definitely going to pass now. The whole F word on every page thing is a big turn off.

  15. I have this out from the library and sitting on my night table. Just the other evening, I took another look at it and wondered what I was thinking as it didn’t seem like my usual book. (I’m guessing it was the cover. 🙂 I don’t read much – if any – chick lit either and since I was on the fence about starting this one, I don’t think I will. Great review!

  16. my book club picked this book a few months ago and after the first few chapters boy was I trying to make excuses not to read. I did not like it, and I usually like chic books/stories. your so right with the nicest thing about the book is the cover. I eventually made an excuses not to make it to the discussion. please spare yourself. the book stinks.

  17. im starting to read this book and i enjoy every bit of it. it gets interesting

  18. Well, I just read the book in portuguese and I liked a lot. I do agree that there some clichés going on but the book in general is intelligent, funny and interesting.

  19. I enjoyed this book- i found it honest, (honest as in the parts of ourselves we don’t like to look at) well written and emotionally engaging.

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