37 by Maria Beaumont
As someone whose 37th birthday is quickly approaching, I could not turn down the opportunity to read this novel by Maria Beaumont. It chronicles the approaching midlife of Fran Clark, a talented former voice over actress living in London. Fran left acting 10 years earlier when she started her family with her husband Richard. As her 37th birthday party nears, her life and drinking habit get more and more out of control. When everything is finally turned upside down on the night of her party, Fran has to choose between finding a way to recreate herself or give in to the alcoholism that runs in her family and potentially ruin her children’s childhood. What seems obvious to everyone surrounding her proves to be very difficult for Fran.
37 was written in a comfortable, conversational tone. As someone who has never been to England, I very much enjoyed the dialog. It was delightfully different from what I am used to. Part way through the book the voice in my head while I was reading it even took on a British accent ala Madonna. I love how so often sentences were ended in rhetorical questions. No one uses the word brilliant quite like the British.
Conversation aside, life in upper-middle class London isn’t all that much different than it is here in the United States. Fran has two wonderful best friends, but they are but a life raft in shark invested waters. Fran’s relationship with her husband suffers from what sadly happens far too often after children are born. The mothers running her school’s equivalent to the PTA act and react just like catty women everywhere. Beaumont nailed the competitive nature between women that has no real reason to exist. Women are our own worst enemies.
37 was somewhat heavier than I had anticipated, but it read quickly. I related to Fran and empathized with her experiences. The ending was satisfying and inspiring. I hope that Maria Beaumont continues to write. Her voice is what made this story special.
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