My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley


Having heard the author interviewed by Terry Gross, I thought this would make a pleasant and light-hearted audiobook to accompany me in the kitchen and in the yard. And that turned out to be mostly true.

The premise is that a long-divorced couple each find themselves in need of help in their current lives and rediscover each other in a new role, friendship. Julie has a daughter who needs help through the horrid high school years. Julie also has a large messy house she wants to keep in the aftermath of her recent divorce. David is recovering from the end of a relationship with a younger man who was scooped up by someone with more money. He is about to lose his long-time rental carriage house, a big deal in real estate obsessed San Francisco.

David comes east to help Julie in the beach town where she lived north of Boston that had a name that made me think it was modeled on Newburyport. My sister and I spent a week there in 2008 and it was very much the touristy spot described in the book.

The connection between David and Julie is the appealing aspect of the book. The humor depended too much on snarky take-downs for me. Both Julie and David were betrayed by a woman friend that could have been the same person:  each was a smart, rich woman who bragged about having affairs.

Still, I listened to the whole book, only on rare occasions grimacing at the stereotypes.

Stephen McCauley, My Ex-Life, Flatiron Books, 2018, 324 pages (I listened to the audiobook). Available at the UVa and public libraries and from Amazon.

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