STARRED REVIEW
October 2016

A hilarious and pivotal day in the life of an American everywoman

By Maria Semple
Review by
Eleanor Flood is tired of being tired. She wakes up in her trendy Seattle neighborhood already counting down to bedtime. A former artist for a “Simpsons”-esque TV show, she is stumped professionally and stuck personally.
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Eleanor Flood is tired of being tired. She wakes up in her trendy Seattle neighborhood already counting down to bedtime. A former artist for a “Simpsons”-esque TV show, she is stumped professionally and stuck personally. “I’m looking worse by the day,” she laments. “I’m all jowly. My back is dry. My core strength is nonexistent. Really, I’m hanging by a thread.”

But, as she declares on the very first page, today will be different. She will play with her sweet son, Timby. She will radiate calm and go to yoga class. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe.

Reader, the day does not exactly go as planned. Timby fakes an illness to get picked up early from his tony private school (in a fun nod to Semple fans, he attends Galer Street School). Eleanor runs into an old colleague who brings some long-suppressed family secrets to the surface. And when she goes to surprise Joe at his office, his receptionist informs her that he is on vacation.

Eleanor spends her day unraveling the mystery of where Joe is spending his days, while also facing her hurtful childhood and estrangement from her beloved sister. She may not make it to yoga, but the day is a major turning point in Eleanor’s life, one in which she realizes she has to deal with her past to carve out a better future. 

Semple—the author, of course, of the incomparable Where’d You Go, Bernadette—is second to none in humorous fiction. Her heroines are deeply flawed but totally relatable, and Eleanor is no exception. Today Will Be Different is filled with transcendent moments of humanity, reminders that while we all can aspire to improve, sometimes it’s OK to just appreciate what is already in front of us.

 

This article was originally published in the October 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Today Will Be Different

Today Will Be Different

By Maria Semple
Little, Brown
ISBN 9780316403436

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