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Friday, June 27, 2014

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You: A Novel

This was my treat for my plane ride home from France. Appropriate without even being planned--I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum.

Richard, a British artist, married the love of his life, Anne-Laure, a gorgeous and brilliant French lawyer, at a young age. He finds himself straying from his marriage with a young American journalist as he finds himself in his mid-30's and faltering in his art. "Selling out," he feels it is despite the success of his solo show. When his mistress leaves him to marry another Brit, Richard mourns the end of this relationship much to the detriment of his marriage. When Anne finds the mistress's letters, she kicks Richard out of her life, leaving Richard attempting many times to win her back. But is it possible to fall back in love?

I found Maum's novel to be touching and heartfelt while lacking in the sap that I so despise in a romance novel. In fact, I may even call this an un-romance novel. We see Richard wallow in his own pity, but it's never overboard and it done with a bit of a wink at the reader--we know he is a nitwit for letting his wife go and we aren't going to allow him to sneak one past us. It's an interesting balance Maum has found between allowing the character to be authentic and honest with us, his audience, while not allowing him to become a chump whom the reader just wants to strangle for his idiocy.

Another thing that I found so interesting in this work is that Maum has inserted the right amount of soul-searching on the part of Richard for the reader (i.e., me) to not want to shut the book and walk away, which is a problem I find in novels where the protagonist loses something dear to him. Richard's relationship with his wife and daughter felt credible and driven by a solid mix of emotion and reason, and it kept me engaged and invested.

From a very selfish point of view, I thought this was the perfect book to read on my flight home from France. I loved the references to the French regions, the wines, and the cheeses. I didn't spend a whole lot of time in Paris where the bulk of the novel is spent, but I did appreciate the cultural references and the appreciation of certain dishes and drinks. It was heartwarming for me to read this and to actually understand so many concepts that Maum alludes to both implicitly and explicitly. It makes me giggly and happy inside.

Hard copy for purchase below.

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