Perrotta, Tom. “Mrs. Fletcher: A Novel”, Scribner, 2017.
Sex, Love and Identity
Tom Perrotta’s Eve Fletcher is trying to figure out what comes next. She is a forty-six-year-old divorcee whose beloved only child has just left for college and she is struggling to adjust to being alone. One night she received a text message on her phone that was sent from an anonymous number that reads, “U R my MILF!” In the following months, Eve becomes obsessed with that message. Her life has been calm and she is the Executive Director of the local senior center by day and has enrolled in a community college course on Gender and Society at night. At the same time Eve visits a porn website called MILFateria.com that caters to the erotic exploits of ordinary, middle-aged women like herself. Before long, Eve’s online fixations begin to spill over into real life, revealing new romantic possibilities that threaten to upend her quiet suburban existence.
Brendan, Eve’s son who is a jock and aspiring frat boy is learning that his new campus does not adhere to the hard-partying lifestyle that he thought would be there and now, just beginning his college education, he is not doing well. He feels that his sense of white privilege is challenged as are her chauvinistic ideas about sex. Now with winter quickly approaching, both mother and son find themselves in tough situations.
Writer Perrotta brilliantly captures the empty nest syndrome as well as the way Eve feels about her ex-husband who is new happily remarried. She thinks that his guilty conscience has made him a much nicer person than before. She, however, has no idea of where she is headed in life even though she feels that she knows who she is. On the other hand, she really has nothing to complain about. What is so strange is that as she tries to find out who she is, she discovers that she is a woman who watches a lot of porn. Perrotta goes on to say that when life was good for Eve, it is easy to accept something like this as a peek at a better world, a world where all was good and attaining desires was easy.
Brendan shows us that not everyone wants the same thing and we see what happens to him when he understands that. He is a young man who has learned from watching porn and now we wait for the lives of Eve and Brandon come together through the conduit of porn. Yes, this is a novel about sex and not only is it a fun read that will make you think, it is brilliantly written. I see “Mrs. Fletches” as an examination of sexuality, identity, parenthood, and the mistakes we make when we stop being sure of who we are or where we belong.