Title: The Tao of Martha: My Year of Living, or Why I’m Never Getting All the Glitter Off of the Dog
Author: Jen Lancaster
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Audio (Audio) / NAL Hardcover (Print)
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Rating: 4 out of 5
In a new project to reinvent herself, memoirist Jen Lancaster decides to take on the domestic diva herself, Martha Stewart, in an effort to apply Martha’s philosophies and methods to all aspects of her life for a year.
The Tao of Martha is everything you’d expect from Jen Lancaster: interesting and funny, but it’s also emotional and honest, as Jen deals with health scares and the sickness of a beloved dog.
I used to love Jen Lancaster. She’s snarky and has an incredible sense of humor; her writing is genuinely fun to read. But I soured on her a bit after her last memoir, Jeneration X, in which she complained ENDLESSLY about millennials: their laziness, their entitlement, etc. Now, as a millennial (barely so, but I do qualify), I didn’t really appreciate being continually insulted by someone whose book I’d enthusiastically chosen to read. I mention this in my review, but the more I thought about it, the more it just grated (which, incidentally, is one of the reasons I’ve started waiting longer between finishing a book and writing a review, so my thoughts could percolate). So I decided that, despite the fact I’d read all of her books, I was done with Jen Lancaster.
Of course, clearly I wasn’t actually done or I wouldn’t be writing this review. I’d discussed my disappointment with multiple people about her last book, but was assured time and time again that she’s back in fine form in The Tao of Martha, so I decided to give her another chance. And I’m glad I did: The Tao of Martha was funny, honest, and reminded me why I loved this author in the first place.
The Tao of Martha chronicles Jen’s year of trying to emulate Martha Stewart, and I appreciated her efforts. I always want to be more organized, a better hostess, and so on, but don’t really ever have the time to tackle these projects. It was interesting to see what Jen did and to be inspired by her (even if I haven’t moved forward at all on any of the projects I devised while I was listening). I liked this framework for the book even though I’m not really a Martha Stewart fan, so of course, I loved it every time Martha didn’t come through for Jen.
But there’s also brutal honestly in The Tao of Martha, which I loved. Jen deals with some difficult things in this book, namely the sickness of her beloved dog Maisy. While I’m not a huge animal person (I like them, but don’t have any of my own), my heart broke for her as she discussed her struggles. It’s this emotion that really grounds the book; it’s not easy to talk about difficult subjects and I’ve always appreciate that Jen doesn’t shy away from them.
Jen Lancaster’s memoirs are a natural fit for audio, so I’m not sure why I didn’t think of doing this previously. She narrates the audiobook herself, and while I didn’t absolutely love her as a narrator (she spoke a little too slowly sometimes), she did a solid job. The audiobook production runs about 8 and a half hours, so it’s good for those of us with shorter attention spans. If you’re looking for a funny, engaging audiobook (or print book) that’s light and easy, you should give Jen Lancaster a try.
Other books by Jen Lancaster: