For a long time now I’ve been reading great stuff by and about Jennifer Weiner. She has a lot of strong opinions about why women writers get less respect than men, and why writers of commercial fiction get less respect than writers of literary fiction, and where and how we draw those lines, something that kind of fascinates me too. (If you want a flavour of what I like about Weiner, read this). I got the impression from reading about her, and reading articles and things she’d written, that Weiner was a writer of good-quality, highly readable, contemporary commercial fiction, but I figured the best way to find that out would be to read one of her books myself.
So I picked up Good in Bed, Weiner’s first novel about Cannie Shapiro, a single woman in her late 20s who’s horrified when she discovers that her ex-boyfriend has revealed their bedroom secrets (and paid tribute to her plus-sized body) in a national magazine article titled “Loving a Larger Woman.” The horror of that discovery sends Cannie on a roller-coaster journey of self-exploration which does have a happy ending, but not without some detours into dark places. It’s a fun book, certainly, and a funny one, but there’s depth and real heart there too. However, I liked the sequel, Certain Girls, even better, picking up the story as it does several years later while Cannie is trying to raise a teenaged daughter. Since I’m raising teenagers myself now, Certain Girls may have appealed more because I could relate to it more. But I liked both of them (although there were some Very Sad Moments in Certain Girls and you should have a box of Kleenex handy; don’t say I didn’t warn you). And I’d definitely pick up another Jennifer Weiner when I’m in the mood for a well-written but light-hearted read.