"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know." - John Keats

"You're not allowed to say anything about books because they're books and books are, you know, God." - Nick Hornby

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Review #16: Dune Road, by Jane Greene

Oh, Jane.

I had such high hopes for you after reading Family Pictures, so I read Mr. Maybe, which wasn't a home run with me, but I wanted to give you another chance. But I think I might have to break up with you after reading this. You nearly did me in. Plus? Halfway through I realized I'd read this before but I still read it again, and now I'm a little mad at myself.

Dune Road is the story of middle-aged Kit, who is divorced from her husband (Adam? I can't remember), who is a hot shot Wall Street banker. Kit gave up the three carat diamonds and getting her hair done each week for lunch in favor of a small little cottage and yoga pants, and now works part time for a reclusive author, Robert somebody-or-other. (Which begs the question: how on earth can she afford to live in this fancy-pants Connecticut town working part time for the equivalent of Stephen King, but whatever: suspension of disbelief.) Kit gets along with Adam (again: suspension of disbelief - perhaps there are better divorced parents out there than I, but I can't picture going in to the woods with my ex-husband to chop down a Christmas tree together. Perhaps chopping other things, although I probably shouldn't say that on the internet (just kidding, law enforcement - this is a joke), but not Christmas trees) and her two kids seem relatively well-adjusted. She's friends with Charlie, another Wall Street wife whose husband, it turns out, is about to lose everything, forcing them to move in with her husband's parents, Tracy, the owner of the local yoga studio, and her next door neighbor, a spry surrogate grandmother type, who is more of a mother to Kit than her own mom.

Out of the blue, a young woman arrives on Kit's doorstep from England, claiming to be her half-sister (Kit's mother apparently had a torrid love affair with her gardener years ago), so instead of doing like any sane, rational person would and, you know, Googling that nonsense and hey, maybe also running a background check, instead, Kit invites this total stranger to come live with her and her children. She introduces them to Adam, who apparently can't keep his pants on around his brand new former sister-in-law, but that's okay, because Kit's going out with a guy named Steve that Tracy set her up with, who it turns out is actually Tracy's secret ex-boyfriend, who is in cahoots with Tracy to get in to Robert The Writer's mansion and take him for all he's got. Why? I don't know. Jane never explains it. Charlie's no help in seeing all the problems here because she's busy selling her clothes and carpets so they can afford to put gas in the Range Rover, but the next door neighbor tells Kit something is up, although Kit totally ignores her and sleeps with Steve (and it must be said that the sex is... fine. Not earth shattering, just... fine. I mean, give me something, Jane) and invites him in to her home with her kids without again, you know, Google. And hey, good for you Kit, get after it, but maybe use a little bit of common sense and protect yourself. And your kids, while you're at it.

Anyway, Kit's mom comes to town with her soon-to-be husband (number five, not that there's anything wrong with that) and demands that Kit look in to what the mysterious sister has been up to, and even though Kit's mom only parented her two weeks a year for her entire childhood, Kit listens to her and discovers that her sister's been stealing from her. So she calls Adam to tell him, realizes that Adam's sleeping with her sister, and throws her sister out of her house and puts her back on a plane to London. Then later (it feels like the same day, but I'm sure it's not), at the Christmas party at Robert's, Kit overhears Tracy confessing to Robert that she and Steve are in cahoots, but Tracy really truly loves him and wants to leave Steve, and oh, by the way, Steve used to beat her up and she set him up with Kit so they could get to Robert through Kit, but she's really really sorry and she really wants Robert to forgive her so they can live happily ever after. So Kit goes home, has breakfast with her mom and tells her that whole story, Mom calls Number Five who intervenes with Robert the Writer (cause they used to be BFFs a million years ago but then Robert the Writer's wife died mysteriously when they were all on a yacht together - shades of Natalie Wood) on Tracy's behalf, and just like that, we've fast-forwarded to the wedding of Robert and Tracy, and it looks like Kit and Adam might not be divorced forever. The end.

So yeah. Can we talk for a second about ALL THE THINGS WRONG WITH THESE SCENARIOS? A) Kit just magically forgives her mom for never being there and trusts her (and Number Five) implicitly, taking their not so great advice on the whole thing, although I'll say that Kit's mom was the only one with a brain when it came to the long lost sister, B) Kit forgives Adam for SLEEPING WITH HER SISTER, C) Kit forgives Tracy for SETTING HER UP WITH A GUY WITH KNOWN RAGE ISSUES (seriously, at one point, Tracy has a black eye - she "ran in to the door" - and yet she's Kit's BFF and set her up with Steve?), and D) Robert forgives Tracy for trying to fleece him, and then MARRIES HER. Probably without a prenup, too, cause apparently all of his brainpower is being used up writing bestsellers instead of having some critical thinking time about his choices in women.

And everyone's OKAY WITH THIS?

I know Jane was going for a whole "we don't know who people really are" and "you never know what battles people are fighting" but come on, people. There's a difference between having money troubles and hiding it from your friends and, you know, deliberately setting up your newly divorced friend with a guy who used to (and still does) beat you up. And don't even get me started on Adam sleeping with Kit's sister. The only character in the entire book with a half a brain is Kit's octogenarian neighbor and her wacky friend. And maybe Kit and Adam's daughter, who figured out pretty quickly that Daddy and her new auntie were doing the deed and gave some serious side eye for awhile, at least before being bought off by a trip to Claire's.

I mean. I can't even. 

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