I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Like a Québécois Bridget Jones’s Diary, Marie-Renée Lavoie’s Autopsy of a Boring Wife tells the hysterically funny and ultimately touching tale of forty-eight-year-old Diane, a woman whose husband leaves her and is having an affair because, he says, she bores him. Diane takes the charge to heart and undertakes an often ribald, highly entertaining journey to restoring trust in herself and others that is at the same time an astute commentary on women and girls, gender differences, and the curious institution of marriage in the twenty-first century. All the details are up for scrutiny in this tender, brisk story of the path to recovery. Autopsy of a Boring Wife is a wonderfully fresh and engaging novel of the pitfalls and missteps of an apparently “boring” life that could be any of ours.
Although I read a fair amount of Canadian literature, I fall short in the category of French Canadian fiction. This was a delightful example of that category and reminds me that I should seek out more such books. The translation was extremely well done. I really only became aware once, when Diane asked her neighbours if they watched American television--that isn’t on the translator, it just reminded me that watching foreign programming is a much bigger deal in Quebec than in the rest of Canada.
Both of my sisters have divorced and I couldn’t believe how much of Diane’s dialog could have been excerpted directly from our phone calls! One of my sisters, like Diane, seemed to believe in the “magic of being married,” that it would somehow bring her husband back. It didn’t, for which we are all very thankful. I never married, so I never had to go the divorce route, but I did have once break-up which caused me to be volcanically angry. Diane restricts herself to destroying the house with a sledgehammer and pushing furniture out the second story windows. I think that would be very satisfying. I’ve always considered going to flea markets to buy cheap crockery to smash when necessary--somehow I’ve never got around to it. Probably because I know that I’d be the one who had to clean up after the event was over.
I’m glad I asked my mother when she was still alive if she was disappointed that I had never married or produced children. She looked at me a long moment, then said, “You’re the happiest one of my children. Don’t change.”