The opening lines of Leslie Lehr’s novel “Wife Goes On” will resonate with many women.
“The truth is, I was afraid to be alone” she writes, tapping into most women’s secret fear. “Then I heard my daughter swear she’d never get married and I realized sticking it out wouldn’t win me Mother of the Year.
“If I wanted my kids to be happy, I would have to show them how. So I tore off those golden shackles — and found out I wasn’t alone. … Everywhere, there are members who have paid their dues, know the secret handshake and are reaping the benefits of real friendship. Welcome to Club Divorce.”
That’s Diane, an MBA hotshot turned PTA Superman, speaking. In Lehr’s frothy romp, the bond of friendship between Diane and three other women creates opportunities for hankies for the tears, a hankering for new careers, and hanky-panky in dating.
Diane’s husband gambled away their assets, proving that even if your hubby is in the insurance business, there is no assurance that marriages last forever. She uses her business moxie to start Pure Romance, a company selling sex toys based on the Tupperware models of your mom’s generation.
Then there is Lana, a luscious former actress who works in a furniture store, and isn’t going to sit around and feel sorry for herself.
Annette is the hard-edged divorce lawyer who has to pay alimony to her ex-husband, who left her for a man and got custody of their daughter. She wants her child back, on her terms.
Finally there is the homecoming queen, Bonnie, who married the football star and finds that her life — saddled with two kids and Buck, a beer-swilling husband — is no fairytale.
Lehr’s characters experience all the dramas and traumas of divorce — dealing with lawyers, pissed-off kids, budgets shrunken to the size of a brownie, relocation, rejection, and, most importantly, rejuvenation.
Second acts, in Lehr’s universe, are not only possible, but likely.
For readers going through a divorce, “Wife Goes On” will be a welcome elixir to soothe and comfort, and make them smile. This book is not so much “pro-divorce” as it is “pro-happiness.”
Lehr, the author of “66 Laps” and the film “Heartbreak,” mined materials from her own divorce. She was also struck by an AARP study that revealed that women are initiating most divorces and that “85 percent are better off emotionally afterwards.”
But certainly not in the beginning stages.
As the character Diane explains to someone about to get divorced, “It gets better.”
Lehr’s alter-ego reflects to herself how the divorce process has such a steep learning curve, and then says, “once you climbed it, that information was useless — except to someone else.”
That is indeed why she wrote this book and why “Wife Goes On” is actually useful.
"Wife Goes On" is available at Amazon.com.