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.

Review: The Heartbreak Diet by Thorina Rose

The Heartbreak Diet: A story of family, fidelity, and starting over by Thorina Rose is like a comic book for adults.  However, there are no action heroes here:  no laser beams or men in capes; just the brave heroine, Thorina, who puts the worst part of her life on display in an honest, heartbreaking, and hopeful manner.  

Thorina finds out her husband X does more with his running partner than run.  She handles the discovery of his adultery with such dignity and class, even going so far as to meet the other woman, Vivienne- who is younger with glowing skin, bigger breasts, and an unencumbered lifestyle.  Thorina’s husband, a cruel selfish bastard, wants to try a polyamorous relationship (yuck) and they go through gutwrenching counseling sessions, but ultimately, he leaves Thorina and their two young sons (who later tell her, “Vivienne’s really nice!  It’s kind of like having another mom!” OUCH).  Thorina’s friends prop her up and keep her sane, and she eventually comes to terms with the end of her marriage.  

Ok, so the story isn’t very original, but the execution of it certainly is.  I really liked Thorina.  I laughed through her revenge fantasies and was completely charmed by the frankness of the writing and the freshness of the illustrations.  The Heartbreak Diet is a quick read. I read it in under an hour.  It was my first foray into the world of graphic novels, and I enjoyed it immensely.  This book would make a great gift for anyone who is on their own Heartbreak Diet, forgetting to eat lunch due to major distractions in their lives.  I would highly recommend it.