Let’s face it, this is not the time of year for War and Peace. Actually, I’m not sure there’s ever a time for War and Peace, but that’s another post. Right now, if you’re lucky, you’re sunning and funning so your reading should reflect that. If you’re trapped somewhere cold and miserable (like the office) then after work you still need to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne and grab a beach-y read. I suggest:
The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger
Published by Simon & Schuster
Publication date: July 12th 2016
In The Singles Game Lauren Weisberger moves on from a devil wearing Prada to the high stakes world of women’s professional tennis. A bit of leap, but Weisberger employs the same light touch to tennis that she did to fashion—and just in time for kiddie summer tennis camp (because honestly, are you going to watch every minute of every game that your precious angel plays? Liar) .
Charlie Silver is ranked 24th in the world of tennis when she experiences what could be a career ending injury at Wimbledon. Surgery and rehab bring her back but when her longtime coach suggests that maybe it’s time to quit, Charlie hires a ruthless, but wildly successful, male coach who has never worked with a woman before. Charlie’s tennis game is not all he wants to change. He wants her to drop the polite, friendly homegrown girl and become a media maven “warrior princess”.
The Singles Game is not an exposé on women’s tennis nor is it even particularly hard hitting on the subject. It’s entertaining chick-lit. What I liked most about it, is that the focus is on a strong young woman and her career. It is NOT about her falling in love with her coach or any guy, for that matter. Are there guys involved? Of course, but without the whining and pining. They are not in any way the focus of the novel. It’s Charlie’s story and it is fun. Game set match.
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Published by Riverhead Books
Publication date: May 31st 2016
Much like her father, Peter Straub, Emma Straub is establishing herself as a writer of solid, steady fiction that, even as it crosses genre lines, can always be counted on for enjoyable reading that doesn’t strain the brain. Modern Lovers has three friends, two marriages, a college band, decades passed, houses owned, and impending midlife crises. And all of it happens in Brooklyn so you know there will be a hip-ish vibe to whatever happens.
Elizabeth, Alex and Zoe met in college and started a band. It was a typical college band going nowhere until Elizabeth wrote a song which became a huge hit. Their lead singer Lydia departed, bought the song from them, got famous, and ODed at 27. Now Hollywood wants to make a movie about her life but all three need to sign a consent form and Alex, now Elizabeth’s husband, won’t.
The ‘why not?’ is just one of the conflicts in Modern Lovers. Straub delves into the underlying emotions of long-term friendships—the things that don’t get said—like Alex thinking that Zoe is a bad mother and takes advantage of her friendship with Elizabeth and Jane (Zoe’s partner) thinking that Elizabeth is in love with/too dependent on Zoe. The fact that they live in the same Brooklyn neighborhood means there’s not a lot of room to maneuver as they all hurtle towards the stereotypical midlife crisis, which is only a stereotype because it happens so often. Modern Lovers felt like a younger sibling of Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings—not quite as grown-up or thoughtful, but still fun.
College was a make-believe place, where you could decide to do something and just do it, where no one was going to tell you that you weren’t good enough or talented enough.