Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna LandvikThursday 24 Jun 2004
Bantam Books, £6.99
Lorna Landvik's fifth novel begins in the late 1960s and introduces us to five very different women who find a common interest in reading and a lifeline in the book club that they decide to set up. Through an eventful forty years, which bring both political and personal upheaval, the Angry Housewives maintain a strong bond that helps them through the toughest of times.
Each housewife has her own burden to bear. Faith, the southern belle, harbours a shameful past that even her husband knows little about; Audrey has Marilyn Monroe's figure, but also her bad luck with men; Merit is the classic beauty who suffers the personal hell of an abusive husband; sensible Kari has seen her own share of sorrow; and Slip the activist wants to take on the world's problems.
The characters are slightly clichéd, but Landvik's skill is in never letting us dwell on it. The story moves along at a rapid pace, intertwining different narratives and spanning several decades. Another of the novel's problems lies in the fact that it is sometimes difficult to keep track of chronology, or which housewife is narrating, but these are small complaints when compared with the quality of writing and the depth of emotion.
'Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons' is funny, heart-breaking and, most of all, true. Anyone who understands what it is to find pleasure in reading and discussing books will understand perfectly Faith's delight when she declares, 'I belong to a book club'.