Claire Cook’s “Ready To Fall”

Claire Cook loves writing about lonely women. Dissatisfied, disillusioned, insecure, unhappy women. They may be in their thirties and still single and lonely, or they may be married for several years and still feel lonely. In her novel, Ready To Fall, a 40-ish woman, Beth, has a husband, three kids, a nice home, and a satisfying job at a library. Some may ask: What else does she need for happiness? Well, her marriage has gone sour: Pete’s passion for her is gone, as well as his understanding and appreciation of her. Her role in life seems to be reduced to catering to her husband’s and children’s needs. Beth craves love and passion and romance, but she has stopped hoping that she’ll ever get them from her husband again.

So what does she do? She turns to cyberspace for solace, bombarding her neighbor, who has just separated from his wife, with e-mails, as well as tending to his house while he’s on a lengthy business trip. Despite his very short responses to her, or even lack thereof, Beth’s feelings for Thomas grow exponentially as her daily letters to him become longer and longer. She imagines herself in love with him and is ready for an affair. Some things that she writes to him are so embarrassing they belong only in her personal diary, but although she understands that, she doesn’t revise or delete anything; instead, she advises Thomas to just skip whatever he doesn’t find interesting. At some point she admits that she writes more to herself than to him, desperately needing to unload her feelings to someone.

Once, while strolling on the shore, she fantasizes about walking away from her present life and starting a new one. Just like Delia Grinstead, the protagonist in Anne Tyler’s novel, Ladder of Years, does when she picks up her pace and leaves her husband and kids behind and reinvents herself in a different city. (Don’t we all wish we could do just that, at one point or another, at least for a few days?) But that would be a transition from one extreme to another, from selflessness to selfishness. Beth doesn’t do that. Instead, she goes on a week-long retreat with a group of women, where they engage in lots of activities that help them understand who they are now and define themselves. It’s an enviously fun trip, in my opinion. Just women, chatting, laughing, bonding.

In conclusion, I must say that although Beth’s behavior borders on ridiculous and even pathetic sometimes, you still can’t help but sympathize with this sensitive, impressionable woman who wishes to regain what she has lost.

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2 thoughts on “Claire Cook’s “Ready To Fall”

  1. Every woman who has a lot of responsibility wishes for a different life at some point in her life, even for a second. IMHO, that’s why books like these are so popular – no matter how ridiculous the plot or the character’s actions, there’s a grain of truth that we all identify with. I know I do.

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