From the book cover:
Cleavered: Wham, bam, no-thank-you ma’am. That about sums up the sex life of Claire Doolittle. Not-so-happily married to Jack – once the man of her dreams but now a modern-day version of the bossy, dull Ward Cleaver of ’50s sitcom fame – Claire is at the end of her rope. Gone are the glorious days of flings in elevators and broom closets. Jack? All he needs is a cardigan and a billowing pipe to become the domineering father figure Claire never wanted. And looking at her body in the mirror, Claire would cast herself as Lumpy. They’d once had a world of color, of wanton frivolity. Now, life’s black and white: a sitcom in reruns. A not-very-funny sitcom. Cue an old boyfriend – the “one that got away” – throw in a predatory hottie who’s set her sights on ur leading man, and watch Claire’s world spiral out of control.
In the old TV show, the Beaver always got a happy ending. Stay tuned.
When Jenny Gardiner asked me to review a copy of her latest novel, I was more than happy to agree. She was part of the Debutante Ball of 2008, and considering I’ve loved every one of those books I’ve read so far, I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy Sleeping With Ward Cleaver. Plus the fact that the premise sounds hilarious – I knew this was a book that would make me laugh.
What I didn’t expect was how much I would love this book. Yes, it made me laugh. Out loud. Hysterically. But it also made me pensive. It made me think about my brand new marriage, about where my husband and I would end up in 10 or 20 years. This book has a lot of heart. Yes, Claire’s husband is a bit lacking. But instead of painting him as a one-dimensional distant husband, Gardiner delves into the depths of what made him this way. Claire discusses the death of Jack’s brother, and how he retreated into himself and he was never the same again. Elements such as this give the book a depth which I wasn’t expecting.
The book explores relationships and expectations, as well as some serious issues none of us really want to face. I don’t know how Gardiner manages to incorporate humor into a realization that Claire doesn’t like the man she is married to, or rather, what he has become, but yet she does. While there are some deep and penetrating looks at marriage, the book itself never feels heavy. Because of this, even those of you who aren’t really the biggest fans of “chick lit” may enjoy this novel. When it comes down to it, it’s hilarious and stomach-droppingly serious at the same time.
One of my favorite parts of the book was the way Gardner wrote Claire. She isn’t perfect, not by the least stretches of the imagination. However, she tries to be the best wife and mother that she can, often forgetting that she has to take care of herself as well. For that reason, I think this book will appeal most to mothers. Gardiner manages to find humor in the ordinary situations that most of us would scream at; it’s a great way of looking at life and a wonderful thing to read about.
That being said, I’m not a mother and I obviously adored this book. Gardiner’s wit and sincerity will appeal to anyone; I highly recommend this book for the sheer pleasure and fun of reading it!