If you enjoyed ‘Where’d You Go Bernadette’ Maria Semple’s bestseller smash (with a film adaptation directed by Richard Linklater reportedly in the works) you will love her new one ‘Today Will Be Different.’
It has all the hallmarks of what I loved about Bernadette – a feisty, somewhat neurotic but human heroine, with quickfire and whipsmart dialogue, plus a good helping of social satire.
Set over one day, middle aged Seattle dwelling Eleanor Flood sets out to negotiate just one day – vowing that ‘today will be different.’ Haven’t we all said that?
She’s not aiming for much – just little things like remembering her yoga clothes for class, instigating sex with her hand surgeon husband, Joe. She’s trying to juggle writing a memoir which is extremely overdue (Semple is very funny on the aftermath of fame -Semple herself spent 15 years as a writer and producer in LA working on massive shows such as Saturday Night Live, Arrested Development and Ellen. In her character’s case it’s an animated series called Looper Wash). Then she has to deal with her third grade son Timby whose penchant for wearing eyeshadow is causing some ructions at school, and her seemingly depressed dog Yo-Yo.
Starting out with good intentions, gradually the day unravels – she gets the dreaded call from school that her son is sick and needs picking up (or does he really just want to spend some time with her?) and her husband’s office tells her he’s on vacation – which is news to her. The over-arching mystery is where has her husband disappeared to? Is he having an affair?
But amongst all the increasingly ridiculous things that happen in a domino-effect to Eleanor, (could all those things really happen to one person in one day – it doesn’t matter, you just have to go with the flow) Semple manages to capture the conflicting pulls of motherhood, guilt and ambition, how to maintain a marriage, long held sibling hurts, as well as how to deal with that non-stop narration in one’s head of things that you think you suck at and want to change.
As part of a Q & A blog tour, Maria agreed to answer some questions and different blogs and tweeters have been showcasing her answers. Search for the #todaywillbedifferent hashtag to see them all.
Q. What inspired her to write Today Will Be Different?
I’ve always found that tapping into a vein of deep shame or unhappiness was a sure way to strike gold. But when I began thinking about this book, I had nothing to complain about! I’d written a best-selling novel. I was young enough, in good health. I was in a loving, long-term relationship. We had a delightful child.
What legitimate unhappiness could I have to work from?
So the first day, I decided to sit down with a pencil and yellow pad, and just see what flowed. What came out was essentially the first page of the novel. I looked at it and felt nauseous. Why, when I have everything required for happiness, am I always failing myself and those I love?
I know comedy when I see it!
Today Will Be Different is published on 6th Oct) by Weidenfeld & Nicholson. Thanks to them for the advance copy.