Trouble With Trouble

What happens when a psychotherapist decides she needs a divorce, a vacation in Mexico, and a Latin lover?

Carin Rubenstein
Trouble, by Kate Christensen
Photograph: Courtesy Doubleday

So, I was really excited to read Kate Christensen’s new book, Trouble, for two reasons.  One:  I’d read a few of her earlier books, and loved them, and Two:  I noticed that she dedicated her book to Cathi Hanauer, who is someone I know!  This has never happened to me before, and I found it thrilling, for some reason.  (Cathi interviewed me last month for an upcoming magazine story about my new book, The Superior Wife Syndrome, to be published in September.  So she’s not a friend or anything, but I’ve spoken to her on the phone.)
Anyway, I loved parts of Trouble, but had, well, trouble with other parts.  The writing is wonderful, and the heroine, Josie, a Manhattan psychotherapist becomes so real I swear I could make an appointment to see her right now.  (I know she’s fictional, but still.)  And Christensen’s description of Josie’s realization that she has to divorce her husband of many years, Anthony, is so convincing I have to confess that it made me jealous of that fictional break-up.  As a therapist, Josie thinks of herself as “a sort of breakup maven,” she says, an “expert in how to leave your partner.”
“Like the frog in a pot of tap water on the stove, I had thought things were still room temperature between Anthony and me as I was being cooked alive.”
After having this thought, she tells Anthony that she wants to separate by saying, “I have to hop out of the pot.”  Ha!
Josie’s friendships with her college friends, Indrani and Raquel, are wonderfully described, too, though I don’t know why nearly every lady-of-a-certain-age novel has to include at least one oldest friend who is famous or a rock star or both.  I had a lot of college friends, but not one of them is rich or famous or a rock star.  Raquel is a singer, and the object of much blog derision for sleeping with a television star half her age, so she runs off to Mexico City, persuading Josie to join her there.  I bought the story most of the way—the restaurant and drinking scenes in Mexico are so authentic and appealing I wanted to hop on a plane and go right now—but I was irritated by the book’s conclusion.  I don’t want to give away the ending—it’s definitely worth reading—but I’ll just say that Raquel’s dramatic act does not fit, does not seem either believable or fair, and completely undermines Josie’s supposed expertise and the depth of her friendship with Raquel.
But, dang, it’s a good ride until you get there.

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