The Blasphemy Box
written by Mandy Behbehani
published by Breedon Avenue Books
Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by CLP Blog Tours. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)
Did I enjoy this book: I did enjoy this book. I read every free chance I had. It was a pretty quick read that grabbed me from the beginning.
Madeleine is going through an unwanted divorce and rediscovering herself at the same. She finds herself trying to get back into the workforce while raising three kids and starting a blog. Although she was reluctant at first, she finds some comfort in her blog and from the comments that it generates. I’m sure most of us bloggers can relate to that part right there. 😉
I liked Madeleine a lot. She is funny, sarcastic, and a good person who is trying to get back in shape both physically and emotionally. I was rooting for her. I wanted her to get in shape. I wanted her to get back to writing. I wanted her to fall for that perfect guy. I wanted her to move on from her husband. I wanted him to recognize the mistake he made.
Her husband, Steven, left her for a 25 year old and is fighting Madeleine for every penny and the house! He pulled a lot of the tricks that occur during divorce proceedings. Their interactions, and those with the lawyers, were well-written and pretty spot on for the most part. It was entertaining to read from the outside, and not be a part of them. I loved when she called him out on a financial issue. I laughed out loud at that one. It was classic. However, I did take a small amount of offense to the criticism and badmouthing of the attorneys (I know this happens all of the time! I’ve had to hear it.) in the blog comments and from Madeleine. But that offense comes from personal experience and I know that that is how most attorneys – especially family law attorneys – are viewed. (And a select few, rightly so viewed.) So, no big deal for me. But the people who complain about being charged a fee for speaking to their attorney or paralegal or secretary on the telephone or email…what do they expect? Of course, they will be charged. But I digress….
Mike was a great opposite of Steve. I wanted Madeleine to see him from the first time she met him. But I understand what had to happen. Mike was fun, kind, and a great guy. I really liked his game of pick a book and tell what was happening when you read it for the first time. That was fun. Well, the idea is a fun one. I also loved how he looked out for her and wanted to be a part of her life and that of her kids when the time was right. Mike was my favorite!
The book title, as well as the blog title refers to the “Blasphemy Box” that her husband established to curb Madeleine’s swearing. What a jerk! I enjoyed the fact that she named her blog after that box! That was funny. I also liked that in some of the blog posts she “charged” herself a quarter each time she swore. I loved when she mentioned the box at the end of the book. That made me laugh out loud. The name and how it was used was creative. There were a few typographical errors, not many but enough to notice because the errors were misspelled words that weren’t actually misspelled. ‘Think’ used instead of ‘thing’, ‘fine’ instead of ‘find’ — that sort of thing. The words aren’t misspelled but they aren’t correct either. I just had to reread a few lines to determine what was meant. However, this did not take away from my enjoyment of the book.
All-in-all, it was a good story that kept me interested. I was happy for Madeleine. I was upset for her. I laughed with her – and sometimes at her (especially at the gym!). I disliked her husband. I wanted to be her friend. The Blasphemy Box was a good read.
Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book if you like chick lit. It was a good read.
Will I read it again: I probably won’t. But I will read more from this author.
About the book – from Goodreads: Wry, witty contemporary women’s fiction with romantic elements, Bridget Jones meets Nora Ephron.
Maddy Nelson has an idyllic existence: a handsome husband, great kids, a comfortable, affluent lifestyle. One morning soon after she turns fifty, however, she wakes up in her San Francisco home to find her husband Steven announcing that he’s leaving her for a woman half her age. And a third of her size.
Feeling totally unmoored and grieving for her married life and husband, Maddy finds herself thrust into an unfamiliar and uncomfortable world of middle-aged singledom. There, she must come to terms with her situation and embark on her new life: divorce proceedings, single parenting, internet dating, and trying to earn a living. It’s enough to drive her over the brink. To help her cope, she shares her struggles in a smart, wry blog named The Blasphemy Box, after her ex-husband’s obnoxious habit of having her drop a quarter into a wooden box every time she said something off color. Her madcap middle-aged adventures find her devoted readers who identify with her challenges.
In time, Maddy creates herself and finds happiness in the arms of a good man, and a fulfilling new career as a novelist.
Please enjoy the following excerpt from The Blasphemy Box.
DAY 1 OF SEPARATION
Marriage is the chief cause of divorce
— Groucho Marx
You know that nightmare you’ve always had?
The one where you wake up one day to find yourself fat, frumpy, fifty, and alone?
I’m living it.
It’s barely nine on a frigid January morning. The three children have gone off to school, and I’m in the kitchen in my pajamas on my laptop working on my novel when Steven comes lumbering through, toward the front door of our Victorian house in San Francisco, dragging two of my large Louis Vuitton suitcases.
It’s been only a week since he said he was leaving. Not even a week. Six days. We’d only just celebrated the kids’ birthdays. After twenty years of marriage, I just didn’t believe it. I thought maybe he had a cold and was feeling out of sorts. Sure, we’d been bickering a lot lately, mostly about how he was working until all hours of the night with no convincing explanation. And about how he was sick and tired of seeing my nose in a book and that I should take it out and pay more attention to him. And about why he hadn’t touched me for several months. And about that wooden box with a slot on the top, which suddenly appeared on the kitchen table to remind me not to curse. Steven called it the Blasphemy Box, and I was to insert a quarter into it every time I swore. (I’m from England where cursing is the second language.)
He told me he was leaving while we were perusing the baking aisle at Whole Foods. It was the first time he had been grocery shopping with me in a long time. All I could see through my tears was a row of boxes of “No Pudge Fat-Free Fudge Brownie Mix.” I kept asking him if he was joking. He said it was no joke. I blinked the tears away and tried to maintain my British cool—public grief is just not done in England after all, where I come from. I babbled about needing bitter cocoa powder, mascarpone, and ladyfingers for tiramisu. I asked him if he wanted something other than tiramisu. But he just stood silently next to me, not looking at me, far away, already gone.
Had I seen this coming? No! (Well, not exactly.) I thought we were just used to each other, just comfortable with each other, the spark gone, the flame tamed, but still together as one. I guess not. We didn’t talk about it again in that intervening week. I couldn’t. It’s called denial. I thought if I didn’t talk about it, it wouldn’t be real. It wouldn’t happen. But it has. It is. Happening. Now.
As he lumbers toward our front door, I look up. “So, that’s it. You’re really leaving.”
“Maddy, don’t start…We’ve been through this. It’s over. ”
No matter how many times he says it, I still can’t believe it.
“Because of some bimbo half your age?”
“And half your size.”
“Her name is Gabriela, Madeleine.”
Gabriela. I want to skin her and wear her like last year’s Dior.
“Yeah, right,” I say, furious, then numb as I get up, pull my stomach in and try to stand straight. I am trying to hold back my tears. I really am. I dig my finger into my thigh, hoping the pain will distract me from the other pain and humiliation. Of course it doesn’t. I just feel the cellulite growing there like kudzu.
About the author: Mandy Behbehani grew up and was educated in England. Her first short story was published when she was twelve and she has been scribbling away ever since, as a journalist and now a novelist. She holds a degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and, over her career, served as West Coast correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily and W magazine, as an on-air reporter at KTVU-TV and, for a decade, as the fashion editor and features writer for the Hearst San Francisco Examiner where she won awards for feature writing. Her work has been published in a variety of publications including the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Town & County magazine, the San Jose Mercury News and Travel & Leisure magazine.
She lives in California, and, when she’s not in front of her computer, she can be found reading a good book, and hiking the open space that surrounds her home with her yellow Lab, Lalou.
Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!