Sunday, October 20, 2013

Book Review: The Blasphemy Box

By Jami Deise

As I mentioned in my review of Sophie King’s Divorce for Beginners (now titled Falling in Love Again), divorce rates for first marriages peaked at 40 percent in 1980 and have been declining ever since. But it is still a popular topic among writers and readers of women’s fiction. In fact, The Blasphemy Box is the second book I read in a single week that featured a middle-aged woman who was dumped by her cheating husband in favor of his pregnant girlfriend. Clearly, this particular plot is a horror movie for those of us who are getting older, perhaps have put on a few pounds, and maybe have given up our careers rather than hand over our entire salary to day cares and nannies. But the ubiquity of the topic requires the writer to go beyond the usual clichés to give the reader a unique experience. While The Blasphemy Box is well-written, I’m not sure that author Mandy Behbehani achieves that goal.

The box in question is a wooden box that sits on Maddy’s kitchen table in San Francisco, California. Put there by her husband Steven, she’s required to deposit a quarter every time she swears. Since Steven announces he’s leaving in the beginning of the book, Maddy has quite a few reasons to swear. She has three children, a back-burnered career as a journalism, and 30 extra pounds around the middle. As soon as he leaves, Steve fights her about the house and the amount of money he’s required to pay for Maddy and the children. Although at first nearly paralyzed by grief, Maddy soon takes action, starting a blog about the divorce process and going to the gym. Eventually, she even tries dating.

The only aspect of the story that I found original was that Maddy is from England. She moved to the United States to be with Steven, and her parents and best friend Suzy came over as well. If Behbehani had spent more time, say, on the different between divorce in the U.S. and the U.K. – assuming there is one – the book might have been able to stand out more. I also felt the ending was too happy.

While The Blasphemy Box does not stand out from other women’s fiction novels on divorce, it is a fast, engaging, well-written read. And it serves as an important reminder to those of us who abandoned our careers to concentrate on our children – one day we too may be abandoned.

Thanks to Mandy Behbehani for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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1 comment:

Connie said...

Sounds like a great novel, Melissa. I would love to get to know Maddy and then tell her ex where to put his swear box. Oh my! That was really ugly, wasn’t it? :-)