Marriage Vacation

Finished Marriage Vacation by Pauline Turner Brooks. I received a copy through a contest.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“In season four of Darren Star’s hit TV Land series Younger, the editors at Empirical Press are shocked and deeply moved when they read Marriage Vacation, an autobiographical novel by the publisher’s estranged wife, Pauline Turner Brooks. Knowing the book will cause a sensation, they decide they must publish it. Now you can read what the hype is about.

To find herself…she might lose everything.

By all appearances, Kate Carmichael had the perfect life: two adorable daughters, a pre-war town house on the Upper East Side, and a husband who ran one of the most successful publishing companies in New York. But when Kate attends the wedding of two of her oldest friends and reconnects with successful classmates from graduate school, she suddenly sees her life in a different light: the career she didn’t pursue, the dreams she’s locked away, the empty veneer of her privilege.

When the wedding weekend ends, instead of heading home to her husband and family, Kate gets on a plane and flies halfway around the world. She claims it’s just going to be for a week—two max—so she can clear her head, make headway with her writing, and shake free of the feeling that time is passing her by.

But just like Kate’s life, the adventure doesn’t go quite as planned. When it’s time to return, she finds herself trapped between wanting to be a good mother and partner and needing to find herself again.

This provocative and gripping novel asks: is a wife and mother allowed to have a midlife crisis? And, if she does, can she ever be forgiven? Marriage Vacation is for anyone who has ever fantasized about what it would be like to run away from it all.”

As you may know, I am a huge fan of the show Younger. When I found out that Marriage Vacation was going to become a real book, I was excited and nervous. I know in general that when books are tie-ins for TV, they aren’t always very good.

This book is actually surprisingly good. It’s a book I would’ve enjoyed if I had just encountered it randomly, with no idea it came from a TV show. It’s really fun. I also like the way it gave us more insight into Pauline. (As backstory, if you watch the show, you know Charles’ wife left him and their girls and was gone for a year. If you read the book, you see that there’s a little more to it than that. She was constantly talking to the girls and Facetiming; she planned to be gone for a couple weeks, a month at most, and it just kept getting pushed back. And she was doing good things in the world. She wasn’t just doing spa days and exotic travel.)

Pauline is a really polarizing character, but I always liked her. (Part of it is definitely because I’m a huge fan of Jennifer Westfeldt; I’m pretty sure it’s literally impossible to dislike any character she plays.) This book really cemented that.

Even if you don’t watch Younger, this is a super fun book. Grab some wine or a daiquiri and read it by the pool. You’ll have the best time.

Recommended.

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