I was thrilled to receive an advanced copy of ‘Today will be different’ from Orion Books. I hadn’t read any Maria Semple before and was keen to find out why she has been described as a ‘future national treasure’ I wasn’t disappointed.
Eleanor is having a mid-life identity crisis, but this is no ‘pity-me’ novel. It’s sharp, funny, fast moving and practically begs to be made into a movie. For those of us who are the same age as Eleanor, who have had children, who have moved from East to West to follow our husband’s career, this is a clever acknowledgement of just what it means to be a woman right here, right now.
I will be different!
I resonated with Eleanor. Just like her, I’ve promised that today will be different, that I will be my perfect self. I might not have made an actual list but, all the same, I’ve promised that I will always eat the veg I buy and not chuck it half-rotten in the bin. Or that I will, in future, hand write ‘Thank you’ notes to friends and family, rather than dashed off texts with unaltered auto-corrects. I read once that Diana, Princess of Wales meticulously wrote prompt Thank you notes on her birthday. ON HER BIRTHDAY! I imagine her sitting in her ornate drawing room forming that recognisable capital D with a beautiful fountain pen, while the rest of us would be just opening the second bottle of Pinot.
Despite the promises to herself, Eleanor’s day does not turn out well. Her well-laid plans are soon changed due to her son Timby’s faked illness. After that, the day disintegrates as one chaotic scenario leads to another, each one bringing with it unexpected reunions and unanswered questions. Eleanor will face past decisions and question her own identity made all the more pressing from a move from East Coast fame as an artist to West Coast anonymity.
Humorous and playful, and re-imagining places and scenarios which will be familiar to fans of Semple’s ‘Where d’you go Bernadette’, Seattle once again plays backdrop to a mad-cap dash through one day’s events that will change everything. The pace will keep you turning the pages as she tries to solve one of the main themes of the book (sorry, no spoilers….).
Eleanor isn’t asking for our sympathy and there’s no sense of wallowing in the book, in fact, quite the opposite. For me, Semple manages to highlight the fact that all of our days are significant and possibly life changing, for better or worse and, that despite the planning, or even avoidance of planning, life can sometimes take us by surprise.
Pretty sure ‘Today will be Different‘ will be in Waterstones Truro very soon!
We also reviewed ‘The Versions of Us’ by Orion Books here