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‘Really Good, Actually’ by Monica Heisey

Published last year, Monica Heisey’s bestselling comic novel follows Maggie, a 29-year-old Torontonian PhD student, as her marriage ends. This really wasn’t for me.

There is precious little plot in this novel: it’s intended, I think, as a character study. However, the central character seems to be a collection of clichés rather than a believable person. She is endlessly self-centred and devoid of a sense of agency or responsibility. She is ‘extremely online’, forever worrying about her pictures on Instagram and dating apps. She capitalises Important Phrases. She is cartoonish.

Perhaps as a result, I didn’t feel any emotional connection to the book or its characters. It was all just a bit flat. There were some funny lines, but they didn’t add up to an engaging whole.

Here are some bits I highlighted:

The idea of Jon writing breakup songs in some dark sublet filled me with equal parts deep despair and incredible relief – despair, to think that I had caused him such pain he’d been driven to experimental songwriting; relief that I wouldn’t have to listen to it.

No adult starts a hobby from a good place.’

She was right. It didn’t matter if it was a buzzy new fitness trend or an aspirationally useful class or something fun and specific, like life drawing or an Italian conversation group – everyone involved in adult learning was running from something.

I looked beautiful in it, but walking down the aisle that day I still felt enormously stupid. What was I doing, veil or not, tottering around a church in a virgin costume in front of everyone I knew, toward a man I’d been living with for years? Why did we need to validate our commitment with this showy little stroll?

I told her getting divorced was like getting stuck in a blouse at Zara: I was struggling, and it was clearly the wrong fit, but maybe it would be more embarrassing to try to take it off, to come out of the dressing room and have to admit, I tried, but I couldn’t make it work. Maybe it would have been easier not to attempt extraction. Maybe I should have flung open the curtain and proclaimed it my favourite, insisted on wearing it out of the store and every day thereafter, laughing as it cut off the circulation to my arms

My feed was saturated with alluring images of expensive medical procedures that made women in their forties and fifties look ten years younger merely by cutting their faces off and sewing them back on higher up.

This post was filed under: What I've Been Reading, .

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