Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating: A Novel by Carole Radziwill

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

A deliciously smart and funny debut novel about loss, libido...and true love

A decade ago, Claire Byrne, now thirty-two, put her biggest career aspirations and deepest personal desires on hold when she became the wife of Charlie Byrne, the famous sexologist and man about town.  Equal parts Alfred Kinsey and Warren Beatty, Charlie is charming yet pompous, supportive yet unfaithful, a firm believer that sex and love can't coexist.  When Charlie is killed one day, in an absurd sidewalk collision with a falling sculpture (a Giacometti, no less!), his death turns Claire's world upside down.  She misses Charlie.  She needs to reinvent herself.  As unseemly as it may be to admit it, she longs to lose her "widow's virginity."  And she wants love.

Over the course of a year, Claire eats too little and drinks too much.  She sees first- and second - opinion shrinks, the Village griot, a psychic, and a "botanomanist."  She dates a billionaire, a journalist, a hockey player, and even Jack Huxley - the movie star.

And, as Claire moves on from Charlie and searches for herself, she comes to realize she's been given a second chance to live the meaningful and passionate life that passed her by once before.

Readers of Carole Radziwill's debut memoir, the lauded and New York Times- bestselling What Remains, know well that she has a particular talent for writing about friendship, loss, and love.  And readers of The Widow's Guide to Sex and Dating will discover that those gifts extend delightfully and tenderly to the literary screwball comedy.  In spinning Claire's story, Radziwill limns a world where glamorous movie stars fall for brainy working girls and where true friends must be leaned on until true love arrives, and she reports back with a novel that is as romantic as it is funny and wise.

my thoughts:

I am a huge fan of the Housewives shows on Bravo, especially NYC, New Jersey, and Beverly Hills - those are my favorites!!  I love watching these shows dripping with luxury, sarcasm, and DRAMA.  NYC's episodes are finally going to begin TONIGHT and I can't wait - it seems like ages since we last checked in with Ramona, Sonja, Heather, Carole, Aviva, LuAnn, and apparently there is a new wife, Kristen.  I am so looking forward to watching all of the inevitable unnecessary drama unfold on the screen - I've been watching the old episodes to refresh my memory of what happened last season (Johnny Depp pirate look-a-likes, "white trash", phobias, London, holla, etc.).   Plus, I remembered that Carole had finished writing her book, The Widow's Guide to Sex & Dating, and so when I was offered the chance to read it, you can bet I said yes. 

So, what was reading a fiction book by Carole Radziwill like? Absolutely delightful!  Radziwill kept the tone light, funny and the over-the-top drama to a minimum.  This was a book about loss, new beginnings, and self-discovery.  I truly enjoyed reading all about sex and dating via recent widow, Claire Byrne.

The story begins with a death.  Charlie Byrne has just left his current lover's apartment and is headed toward a meeting with his agent - its a beautiful sunny day in NYC and life couldn't be better.  His wife, Claire, is in TX on assignment to interview Dr. Singh.  Nothing seems out of the ordinary.  And, then...SPLAT!  As Charlie is walking on the sidewalk, a large and heavy Giacometti sculpture suddenly falls on top of him and that is all she wrote for the poor bloke.  As spectators gather around Charlie's body and the news reports on the accident, Claire is getting her waist measured by Dr. Singh - apparently the size of your waist determines your fertility and your chances of finding a partner (.7 hip-to-waist ratio is the ideal).  She hasn't checked her messages and doesn't know that her husband is dead. Of course, once she finds out, she rushes home to deal with everything. Along with funeral arrangements and grieving comes the realization that Claire is now a widow.  She's single again, but not in the same way - there are new rules to learn and play by.  How soon is too soon to start dating and having sex?  What is the role of the widow at dinner parties - to sit by other widows? Are love and sex really incapable of coexisting?  And, how many therapists does one really need in life?  These questions, combined with Claire's need to figure out her role as a widow, made for quite a fun read.

I found myself easily lost in this crazy world of billionaires, movie stars, and waiters who provide the services of "hit men" (if needed).   Reading how Claire struggled to come to terms with her new identity and what her marriage really meant to her was interesting, captivating, and hilarious.  I laughed out loud while reading this book and enjoyed every minute of it.  Of course, I couldn't help but imagine Radziwill as the character Claire - I felt like I was reading her story (an exaggerated version of her story).  Why did I think this?  Well, there is the fact that Radziwill was once a young widow navigating the world of dating.  Plus, she did date a movie star (just like Claire did in the book) - George Clooney!!  That's probably why I liked the book so much, because I couldn't help but imagine Radziwill bungling first dates, going to therapy times two, and following a griot around the streets of NYC. 

The Widow's Guide to Sex & Dating is a smart, emotional, and quirky book.  I found it such a treat to read.  I'm positive that fans of Radziwill will LOVE this novel.  I would definitely recommend it to fans of women's fiction - you will fall in deep with Claire's story. 

Thanks so much to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!!


Lisa said...

Oh I love The Real Housewives, too! Glad to hear Radziwill's book is so much fun.

Nadia said...

Lisa, I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who loves the Housewives :) And, yeah, the book was a lot more fun than I thought it would be.