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Today Will Be Different

by Maria Semple

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1,4779012,455 (3.18)64
Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action--life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office--but not Eleanor--that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret. A hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
So, I've read all three of Maria Semple's books. If I had to guess, she lost her mother at an early age, her father was an alcoholic who was involved in show business and loved Sondheim, she HERSELF loves Sondheim. She has a husband she idealizes but absolutely does not want to have sex with and who she is afraid will leave her. She has a child that she treats like a peer. She's been bored and rich in Seattle for too long.

Normally I wouldn't assume every book is semi-autobiographical but Semple keeps writing the same woman. I was surprised to see Violet Parry come up in this book, because she's so uncannily similar to Eleanor Flood.

I did like this book and find it charming, though. I think Semple is a really gifted writer. I just found the parts about New Orleans so so much more compelling and real than the story of another bored, snobby, rich Seattle wife.

P.S. I cannot decide what 'Looper Wash' was supposed to be. It was described like the early 90s MTV cartoons but I guess it was supposed to be like a riot grrrl version of 'The Simpsons'? Hopefully the characters frequently ate each others' shorts or I'm not sure why Americans would watch. ( )
  prunetracy | May 3, 2024 |
This is sort of a quirky book and Eleanor Flood is too. She has a creative/artistic mind and a graphic illustrator and writing her memoir in a graphic comic way.

She's married to Joe who's a hand surgeon and they have a 8 year old son Timby (it was supposed to be Timothy) but when she texted Timothy to her husband for a name, autocorrect came up with Timby so it stuck. He's kind of mature for an 8 year old.

This book was all over the place but it was fast reading. ( )
  sweetbabyjane58 | Dec 16, 2023 |
When reading a book makes you feel as scattered, driven, and breathless as the main character is that a good thing? I'm still undecided about that which is why I clicked three stars instead of four.

The pages kept turning for the first third of the story. Then the feeling of anticipated embarrassment crept in and slowed me down. (As a child, I couldn't watch certain T.V. characters because of this.) I don't really like watching a train wreck. But I'm a completist, and unless the work bores or offends, I trudge toward the finish.

I found it difficult to follow the plot as the narrative thread jumped from the unfolding of one very long, very dramatic day in the life of Eleanor Flood to past memories (hers and her husband's), or switched from first-person to third-person. My confusion is, no doubt, a fault of mine rather than the writer's.

Could not have guessed the conclusion, so that counts. ( )
  rebwaring | Aug 14, 2023 |
Let me start by saying that I devoured this book in one day. That is always a good sign.

The narrative shift partway through was a complete shock: we start with a not-too-serious story about a wealthy neurotic mother having a "rough" time, and then switch to a story of deeply bonded sisters whose relationship is destroyed over time in sharp acidic bursts. The emotions in this portion were so horribly sharp I had to stop reading and reach out to my own sister to tell her how much I love her (a sort of superstitious assurance that this story will never be us, never).

So then the book is moving back and forth between the plot of the sisters (the past) and the plot of the older-sister-turned-neurotic-mother (present). And here's where it gets complicated, since the former is so compelling and real and the latter is.... not. I mean, the older sister/mother just goes bonkers. It's been set up in the early pages that she gets away with acting like an asshole, but this is unbelievable. I think that it may have worked if things were slowed down, if she did these things over several weeks instead of in one day, and if more information was given to explain her behavior. As far as I can tell the only explanation for the present-day plot line is "My sister and I no longer have a relationship and the pain of it is making me selfish and a little nuts". When I finished the book I had the strong feeling that the author had simply run out of time.

In summary, this starts as a good book, bursts into a great book, and then fizzles back into a book that is pretty good (but could have been great). ( )
  blueskygreentrees | Jul 30, 2023 |
Rambling and not that clever. As a Seattle native, I also quibble over some of the details of the book. (No way did she walk from the Olympic Sculpture Park to the SODO Costco and back in under and hour.) The ending was thoroughly disappointing and I found it difficult to relate to the main character and her issues. ( )
  ChristinaFaucett | Jul 26, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
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For George and Poppy and, to a lesser extent, Ralphy
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Today will be different.
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Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action--life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office--but not Eleanor--that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret. A hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.

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