Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.
A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.
Nina’s personality can be summed up as: Tired with life, complains too much, miss-know-it-all, weird for having a too-close relationship with her long-term ex, and overall, a wanna-be snob.
Don’t get me wrong this novel has its funny moments but she is very judgemental. She is spot on though when it comes to women that are married or getting there, with children, compared to the singles. It is true those with partners and so forth look upon their single friends when you luckily reach that stage in life.
The main problem was that it wasn’t conclusive or pacy enough to be good commercial women’s fiction, but wasn’t perceptive enough to be literary fiction. It therefore occupies an uncomfortable middle ground which doesn’t satisfy. The characters, other than the protagonist, were somewhat flat – even though they were theoretically interesting, they didn’t come to life. In particular, Max never really came off the page. I felt the author had good stuff to say about internet dating culture and its transactional nature in general, but those observations seemed detached from the narrative and didn’t develop with the storyline. Nina is clearly conflicted – on the one hand she sneers at mundane domesticity, on the other she craves it- but the fact that she doesn’t recognise those contradictions or reconcile them is frustrating. Especially for someone that is supposed to ‘know-it-all’
Overall, meh with some funny bits.