Originally published January 2013
Here’s one for all the mommy bloggers and the moms who read them—get your read freak on with Amy Sohn’s “Motherland.”
Take a few scenes out of context and one would think that Sophie Kinsella and Gillian Flynn made a demon-seed book baby together. Mid-life crisis guy having sex with his own daughter? Father with baby in sling walking up to bar and ordering up a triple-shot of Absolut? Single mom letting a masseur suck her toes until she orgasms? Freaky, freaky shit, Amy.
“Motherland” follows the lives of about a half-dozen denizens of uber-trendy Park Slope, an NYC neighborhood. Opening with a summer vacay in Wellfleet, MA, we meet the Slopers and find all isn’t what it appears to be—what may appear to be perfect, normal and happy really isn’t, no matter how hard they try to play to role. Mommies take their wine drinking far too seriously, Daddies take their feigned ignorance of child rearing too realistically. No relationship with this group is uncomplicated or un-entwined from one another. Misery indeed loves company.
It was about halfway through I realized I was essentially reading an Americanized version of “The Casual Vacancy”—without the fight for a council seat. Nary one or two people, not a single redeemable character:
Rebecca: Married to Theo, hiding bastard child under his nose. Runs a kids’ vintage clothing store. Still daydreams about her affair.
Theo: Married to Rebecca, architect who picks up the hobby of marketing stolen dope. And befriending wife’s ex-boyfriend.
Gottlieb: Married to CC, really doesn’t want to be, trying to be a writer, can’t catch break. Went to sperm bank a lot as a college student. Result? You really shouldn’t sleep around with people young enough to be one of your unknown kids.
CC: Married to Gottlieb, definitely an alpha-wife. Unawares at her husband’s mid-life crisis.
Marco: Kinda-sorta married to Todd, who wants more babies which is kinda horrific in that their toddler is channeling Damian from The Omen. Marco self-medicates with lots and lots of alcohol and sex. Not with Todd.
Karen: Single mom and trying to find herself and whowouldathunkit but just might find happiness with an ex-convict, former heroin dealer. Yikes.
Melora: Almost a has been actress trying to make a comeback but instead wants to obsess over an overweight artist who almost fingered her during their first chance encounter on a jet. I keep waiting for her to have hate sex with Jon Hamm, but alas …
Stuart: Melora’s famous ex who got it on with Rebecca after meeting her at the food coop. Note to self—if I ever think of having an affair that could result in me accidentally getting pregnant, make sure it’s with someone who kinda sorta looks like my husband. Dark-haired guys don’t make red-headed babies.
Helene: An older, single resident who’s sticking it to the man by stealing strollers. Oh, and she used to be married to Melora’s obsession and the mother of two whacky kids, including Seth, the guy who re-introduced Karen to mind-blowing orgasms by … just read it.
Despite the fact all these people are whack, I was mesmerized. Juicy, gossipy fun. If you enjoyed “Dynasty” as a kid, read and savored the entire “Flowers in the Attic” series …. you’ll dig this. Not once, but twice, I quite literally smacked myself on the forehead with the audible “Oh dear God” escaping my lips. Which is OK — I live and work in a world that is sometimes crazy, so even if it’s just fiction, it’s therapeutic to visit an environment even crazier.
A fabulous escapist book for a long weekend, the beach, hangin’ by the fire at the lodge … Enjoy!
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