If anger were only so predictable

I read author Lorna Landvik novels because they’re often set in Minnesota. While I also like diving into foreign and exotic lives when I read memoir, I enjoy the familiarity of my home state in Landvik’s fiction.

However, plot is not her strong point.

BonBonsHer books are character driven, so readers need to enjoy the journey, not necessarily the destination. Unfortunately, the characters in “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons” tended toward the stereotypical, the plot hinged on by-the-numbers predictability and I missed the sense of place I normally find in her books. Though set in a suburb of Minneapolis, it could have been set in almost any suburb in America.

I liked the book and Landvik’s writing, don’t get me wrong, but there were no surprises. “Angry Housewives” tells the life stories of five women who get to know each other in the neighborhood book club which meets monthly for 30 years from 1968 to 1998. We cover all kinds of familiar ground: Vietnam War, protests, gay rights, the suburban shame of domestic violence, young mothers popping out babies like so much champagne, secret adoption, mothers going back to work, mothers who mourn their lost youth when their children graduate and move away, etc., etc. Oh, and as usual in a Landvik novel, someone dies. Or almost dies. It’s foreshadowed in the prologue, so I’m not giving anything away.

With so many characters, it took a good 100 pages for me to keep them straight. By then, though, I was interested in how things turned out. I read most of this book while on the stepmill, and it was perfect for that — the sort of story that distracts you without requiring a lot of thinking. I’d recommend if you’re looking for a beach read this week.

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