Title: Fly Away Home
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Release Date: July 13, 2010
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Sylvie Serfer has been hungry for years and years. However, she acknowledges that part of her role as a senator’s wife is staying thin and fit, and she’s happy to make that sacrifice for her husband. Her career is supporting him, her purpose in life to make his easier, and she’s fine with that. That is, until at the age of fifty-seven, her world comes crashing down on her. She discovers that her husband Richard had an affair with a young intern. Richard’s affair affects the entire family, from Sylvie to their two daughters, Diana and Lizzie. Diana is a doctor who is unsatisfied with what her married life has presented her with, while Lizzie is a recovering addict. Together, these women must cope with the repercussions of Richard’s infidelity.
I’m a big fan of Jennifer Weiner’s novels, and was thrilled to review her last endeavor, Best Friends Forever. In Fly Away Home, Weiner takes on an entirely new topic – the political sex scandal and how it might affect those involved and closest to the situation.
Weiner’s view of the situation is a fascinating one. There’s Sylvie, who has subjugated every need and ambition to her husband’s career. When she thinks they have a good, stable marriage, she’s okay with that. After all, she freely admits she never wanted the spotlight on her. But once Richard’s extramarital affair is revealed, Sylvie begins to rethink everything. Did she make the right decisions with her life? Was she actually happy during her marriage, or was it all a facade she was hiding behind? This process of reflection and self-discovery is satisfying, as Sylvie asks herself difficult questions and doesn’t shy away from the answers she finds.
The two daughters are also on their own paths. While their father’s infidelity doesn’t affect them quite as directly as it does their mother, it still changes them. For Diana, it makes her realize how complicated recent decisions she made really are. She also becomes cognizant of the fact that infidelity affects everyone around you, not just the two involved in the marriage. For Lizzie, it makes her rise to the occasion. She’s tired of being the delicate one, the one everyone always has to take care of. For once, she begins to accept responsibility.
Weiner also provides a fascinating commentary on the role of a politician’s wife. Sylvie is expected to always be one step behind her husband, perfectly coiffed, and to always say the right thing. She has few friends of her own because she’s forced to socialize with people who will help her husband’s career move forward. After the extramarital affair story breaks, Sylvie is watched to force as the media judges her for her actions, when really she’s barely had time to think things through and is just living day to day.
Fly Away Home was a interesting look at the life of a politician’s family, and at how scandal can tear people apart, but also lead to important self-realizations. In some ways, it’s a difficult novel to relate to due to its political scandal nature, but it’s a sympathetic book that puts a human face on something we read about on a daily basis.