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This book was excellent, I couldn't put it down and finished in two days. The third person narrator makes it an easy read and the twist toward the end packs a punch. Laughed a lot and felt bad for many of the characters. I'd highly recommend.
Unnecessarily vulgar. Contributed nothing to the plot. I do not recommend. Very graphic and I was unable to finish the book
I loved this character-driven novel. The author takes a deep dive into what makes a divorce happen and life after divorce (mainly regarding sex). This book was set in New York City (always a bonus)! I found the novel hilarious and engaging.
One side aspect I like is showing his actual "work" -- jobs are so often brushed aside, and his is very much who he is.
It sounds like some commenters didn't finish reading the book, they've missed the point.
Why not at least read some reviews if you're not enjoying it, to get a clue that the book has a change in POV later?
This book packs a wallop. It’s the story of the Fleishmans, a couple who have grown apart dramatically and are in the dying stage of their marriage. Toby is a doctor, one who loves doctoring and has no interest in advancing his career (and income) toward administration. Rachel is a talent scout with a stellar client list and unlimited ambition. She makes more money; he does more of the daily care for their two children. The narrator is a woman who doesn’t really figure into the story; most of the time, I actually forgot about her and thought the narration came from Toby and/or Rachel. The first part of the book is from Toby’s point of view — his resentments of Rachel for being an absentee parent, for always putting her career first, for hungering so desperately after the trappings and status of extreme wealth. I agreed with him on everything! She’s selfish and shallow and unappreciative of his contributions to their lives. But then the second part of the book is from Rachel’s point of view. She does the research to identify the best educational and enrichment opportunities for their children, handles the scheduling and logistics of their lives, and befriends prominent and influential people; leaving just the leg-work and custodial tasks for Toby to do. She tries mightily to ensure that her children feel they “belong,” something she never felt as a child. There is an utter lack of understanding between Toby and Rachel, and this book shows how easily understanding another person — even one we love and live with — can elude us.
never married. 27-year-old female. LOVED this book. Found myself laughing, crying, and many more times than once saying "very true" out loud. highly recommend reading this novel if you are at all tempted, do not be scared away by any nay-sayers. I am usually a Sandra Brown/John Grisham addict and was initially hesitant to put-off one of theirs in order to read this one - no regrets! This book was amazing.
Reading this novel made me feel grateful to have survived 'the missing years'. The narrator makes a strong, if hyperbolic statement about middle age dating in this swipe left era. There are some great lines amid all the soft porn. The human condition is always confusing sex with love. Gradually, the focus shifts from the husband's POV to the wife's POV, and there is also some intrusion from the narrator herself. Although it is first novel, it is pretty well structured and the attention to detail about the hepatalogist's work rang true. I look forward to a second book on another subject.
I was so looking forward to a long great read but was very disappointed. I stopped 89 pages in because it was subsequently all about the sexual weird encounters he had since his divorce and way more detail than I EVER needed to know about. I’m not a prude but there is a line of presenting things in bad taste and a lot of these stories were. I also really grew to hate Fleishman himself. He was so passive and yet so passionate all at the same time, letting his wife trample over him and at the same time just being okay with everything that is going on is ridiculous. I really wanted to finish this but it was so awful. I don't understand why so many people loved this book.
The first thing you'll notice is that Fleishman does not exactly appear to be in trouble as the book opens. Toby Fleishman, successful New York City doctor, early forties, is recently separated, and enjoying the myriad sexual opportunities offered to him through online dating apps. Granted, he has some of the typical difficulties with his kids, portrayed particularly amusingly through his tween daughter Hannah:
"Hannah snarled at him that he'd chosen the wrong outfit, that the leggings were for tomorrow, and so he held up her tiny red shorts and she swiped them out of his hands with the disgust of a person who was not committed to any consideration of scale when it came to emotional display."
The reader learns about Toby's marriage to Rachel, and the disappointments he had with their relationship that led to the marriage breaking up. Rachel is a talent agent who owns her own agency, working long hours and, he feels, neglecting Toby and the kids, as the book carefully notes that Rachel earns about 15 times the salary of Toby, who is on a mere $250,000 a year. Toby's resentment comes through strongly:
"Rachel knew how to work. She liked working. It made sense to her. It bent to her will and her sense of logic. Motherhood was too hard. The kids were not deferential to her like her employees. They didn't brook her temper with the desperation and co-dependence that, say, Simone, her assistant, did. That was the big difference between them, Rachel. He didn't see their children as a burden, Rachel. He didn't see them as endless pits of need, Rachel. He liked them, Rachel."
Later in the novel however, you come across a shift taking place. The novel is being told from the perspective of a college friend of Toby's, Elizabeth. She is a writer who used to work at a men's magazine. She tells us:
"That was what I knew for sure, that this was the only way to get someone to listen to a woman - to tell her story through a man; Trojan horse yourself into a man, and people would give a shit about you. So I wrote heartfelt stories about their lives, extrapolating from what they gave me and running with what I already knew from being human. They sent me texts and flowers that told me I really understood them in a way that no one had before, and I realized that all humans are essentially the same, but only some of us, the men, were truly allowed to be that without apology. The men's humanity was sexy and complicated; ours (mine) was to be kept in the dark at the bottom of the story and was only interesting in the service of the man's humanity."
And the reader realizes that Brodesser-Akner is telling us the complicated story of Rachel's humanity through Toby's story. The Fleishman in trouble is not really Toby; it is Rachel. What about Rachel. Do you want to know about her and her story?
Fleishman Is in Trouble is a smart novel that gives the reader a lot to think about by the end, but it is also a challenging read. It skewers its characters and their wealthy social set, making it more difficult to identify with any of them, be it Toby or Rachel, but it also critiques the social conditions that have led these characters there. Anger is a common theme, both of the characters, and by the end, clearly of the author herself. She is angry that women are told they are the equal of men, yet that is evidently never true, not really, and women will be punished for their choices whatever those choices are. Given the attention this novel has attracted, she has indeed hit a collective nerve.
Darkly funny look at middle age. Super good...wait for it...it’s kind of a slow burn to understand exactly where it’s going.
I struggled to get to the end of this book. There was too much angst going on for far too long! Sure, it was a perceptive exploration of the complexities and ambiguities of people and relationships but it was hard to feel much empathy for the extremely wealthy, privileged, self-absorbed and self-indulgent characters who populated this book. In the end, it just became a little too tedious.
Considering this is a book about dysfunctional relationships, it's only fitting that my relationship with it was so troubled. Initially, I had that dreaded "just couldn't get into it" feeling, which then changed to something different. I have certainly read some YA and children's lit as an adult but this might have been the first time I thought perhaps I'm too old for a piece of fiction. Oh, these characters were so aggravating, then fine, they all deserved each other ---- except there were children involved. Hey, you immature, stunningly self-involved adults - how about noticing the kids in the corner?
That all being said, I certainly couldn't be spilling over with all of these feelings without this book being something special. Such shrewd observations and caustic wit that skewered a certain set of people perfectly. Sort of a wild and sardonic ride until that last third blew me away and showed just how smart and talented the author was. Look at that - there's some pretty insightful heft and depth there. Maybe I'm the right age for this book after all, because everyone is.
Fleishman is in Trouble is an entertaining examination of a mid life crisis - or, rather, several mid life crises. While I found the author's style quite readable and fun, the weight of the characters unhappiness became a bit untenable by the time I got to the end of the book. I think the observations she makes and the reality of the characters lives ring true, but it's just … kind of depressing. And a personal peeve of mine is when people don't take responsibility for their own happiness, but blame their significant other for where their lives have ended up... it's just a frustrating line of thinking. Anyway, the books is well written but I found the overall experience to be a downer.
"And it is not not a dangerous thing to be at the doorstep to middle age and at an impasse in your life in your life and to suddenly be hearing sounds from your youth."
Assured debut novel by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, who is best known for her celebrity profiles (Tom Hanks, Bradley Cooper). It's definitely a book you'll appreciate more if you're married or in a long-term relationship. The Fleishmans are a seemingly perfect couple, with success, wealth, kids, friends, a house in the Hamptons, and an apartment in the city, but their marriage if falling apart. It's told from the perspective from a friend of theirs, with both characters getting their side of the story. I'd say it's the best book about marriage this side of "Madame Bovary," but less tragic and a lot funnier. I'd recommend reading this whilst watching "Marriage Story."
"The anger was a garden that she kept tending, and it was filled with a toxic weeds whose growth she couldn't control."
A comedy, of men, at the expense of women whose melancholy aggrandized to be preachy in the last chapter of "trouble". The author may have sharp and accurate captures on marriage and women in modern society, her writing hovers on the margin of wit to satirize and sentiment to embrace, undecided, futile going deep into a dilemma, resigned at the moments of age, nothing unique.
Audacious revealings of the intimate and private, many hilarious passages I enjoyed, but with humor savored, bad taste also lingered.
Got a lot of hype but it was hard to care about or relate to New York elites who consider a physician making more than a quarter million dollars a year as not pulling his financial weight in the marriage. echoes of Philip Roth with a more feminist bent.
Brodessor-Akner, known widely for her insightful profiles, has written a book about (among many other things) divorce, middle-age, wealth, New York, parenting, dating, and ambition. I do not have experience with very many of those things! And yet! While I was reading it I was antsy during every break because I needed to get back to it.
The premise is that Toby Fleishman’s ex-wife disappears, but from there it’s like a russian doll of books!! It just somehow keeps expanding inward, with tiny but wrenching plot twists and characters you want to both want to succeed and also want to sit them down for a Serious Talk About Their Choices. Despite the sound of the premise, it’s really not a thriller — is there a genre for “emotional suspense”?? That would be this book, and soon to be miniseries!
Agree with comments below that the story took on more consequence and complexity as it developed. Interesting structural approach with what I would call an "intermittent" narrator. Reminded me a great deal of Johnathan Franzen's Freedom: similar style, and similar semi-comic portrayal of wealthy white self-absorbed characters in the throes of personal crises. An absorbing, entertaining, and sometimes insightful book.
One of the more interesting novels I've read in a while. It was funny at first, and then became more serious. Has a lot to say about marriage and divorce. Also madness. Glad I read it.
Structural issues undermine the nascent feminist message. What shines through more completely is how toxic Upper East Side New York life can be. Are we down here in the muck supposed to sympathize?
For me, this did NOT live up to the hype. The story was slow, the multiple narrators drove me crazy and I didn't care about the characters...why they were friends, why they chose their partners. Just not a great story.
Slow, as in a slow-cooked meal..
Juicy, delicious, deliberate, thoughtful.
An intelligent and unpredictable take on another modern family.
The Fleishmans may not be the Lamberts ( J. Franzen’s Corrections )
And there aren’t many insightful fictional offerings of this import on marriage
(John Lanchester’s Mr Phillips shares that stage).
Thank-you Taffy Brodesser-Akner.
When I wonder what the book was all about I refer to the title, "Fleishman is in Trouble". It was all about Fleishman in and out of crazy relationships and situations with his family over a period of time. Parts of the writing were hilarious and parts were boring and parts were ponderous. I wouldn't look for a deep plot or theme other than a character portrayal of a damaged man.