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21.5.18

Book Review: Mrs Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Mrs Fletcher by Tom Perrotta
Publisher: Scribner Book Company
Release Date: 1st May 2018
Buy: Paperback  Kindle
Eve Fletcher is trying to figure out what comes next. A forty-six-year-old divorcee whose only child has just left for college, Eve is struggling to adjust to her empty nest when she gets a text message from an anonymous number: "U R my MILF!" Over the months that follow, that message comes to obsess Eve. While serving as Executive Director of the local senior center by day and taking a community college course on Gender and Society at night, Eve can't curtail her own interest in a porn website called MILFateria.com, which features the erotic exploits of ordinary, middle-aged women like herself. Before long, Eve's online fixations begin to spill over into real life, revealing new romantic possibilities that threaten to upend her quiet suburban existence.
Meanwhile, miles away at the state college, Eve's son Brendan discovers that his new campus isn't nearly as welcoming to his hard-partying lifestyle as he had imagined. Only a few weeks into his freshman year, Brendan is floundering in a college environment that challenges his white-dude privilege and shames him for his outmoded, chauvinistic ideas of sex. As the New England autumn turns cold, both mother and son find themselves enmeshed in morally fraught situations that come to a head on one fateful November night.

Brendan Fletcher is about to leave home and start college leaving his forty six year old Mum, Eve, with a severe case of empty nest syndrome. 
However, the arrival of an anonymous text labeling Eve a 'MILF' sets off a turn of strange and unexpected events. Eve begins to make some much needed changes to her life, starting with the enrollment on a Gender and Society course. She ends up learning more than she ever could have imagined and finds herself making new friends along the way. This leads to Eve wanting to explore her sexuality but when she begins to develop a fixation with online MILF pornography things starts to get complicated.
Meanwhile, Brendan is all set for some serious partying as he begins college life...However things don't quite turn out the way he imagined when he begins to fail all of his classes, lose his friends and his demeaning attitude towards women looks set to land him in a tricky situation...
I was absolutely fascinated by the concept behind Mrs Fletcher. Tom Perrotta is a new author to me, but I was immediately drawn to this book and I'd been hearing high praise about Perrotta's writing, therefore I was really looking forward to giving it a go.
I didn't in a million years think that I would end up enjoying this novel half as much as I did. It was fresh, snarky and hugely appealing.
I immediately warmed to Eve. A lonely middle aged divorcee, it was clear how much she was going to miss Brendon when he went off to college. (Although I have no idea why, he was incredibly annoying...) I was worried with how she would cope with suddenly finding herself living on her own, but the thing I loved most about this book is just how Eve surprised me and ended up turning this whole story on it's head.
She started off your stereotypical moping-lonely-let's-text-Brendan-every-five-minutes kind of mother (not that there's anything wrong with that - she cares about her son) but the arrival of the anonymous MILF text really changed Eve. Whilst her obsession with online X-Rated content may not have been the healthiest, it really brought her out of her shell. It gave her the confidence to pursue friendships, to pursue romances, to take that leap of going back to college. I loved it when people started paying her attention...This poor, seemingly down-trodden women went through such a transformation and I absolutely loved reading about how she changed as a character and how the people around her reacted to that.
As for Brendan, eurgh. As much as I disliked him, I do understand that he is probably representative of many teenage boys whose main goal in life is to go out and get drunk. He was a jock; popular, good at sports, a hit with the ladies...But he was so selfish. His behaviour made me cringe at times, but it was interesting to see him try to adapt to his new circumstances at college. Then when things take an unexpected turn and his roommate suddenly gets a girlfriend, he finds himself floundering. I think that, ultimately, his heart was in the right place and I will admit I felt slightly less frostier towards him at the end of the story but jeeeeez, it was a long journey for us to get to that point.
I was quite cross that Eve seemed to give up some of her new-found freedom when Brendan arrived back home, which reinforces one of the over-riding themes of this book - discovering your own identity. It touches upon so many other important topics, addiction, sex, love, family, feminism...if you like your stories to have lots of underlying themes then Mrs Fletcher definitely needs to go onto your TBR.
The story is told from both Eve and Brendan's perspectives and it was fascinating to get a glimpse of their inner thoughts and questionable choices. I really felt as though Tom Perrotta got inside his characters minds and both Eve and Brendan were extremely real to me. I found myself really caring about Eve and wanting the best for her.
Mrs Fletcher is a fascinating novel and one unlike any other I have read so far this year. It's really well written, extremely thought-provoking and a really satisfying read.
I'll definitely be reading more by Tom Perrotta in the future.

Rating:

A huge thank you to Little Brown for the opportunity to review.


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