Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wife Goes On by Leslie Lehr

Wife Goes On is the perfect book to take on vacation with you. It's an easy and entertaining read, alternating between four woman who find themselves divorced or about to get a divorce. There's the highschool beauty who married the handsome quarterback only to find he's not her Prince Charming. There's the high powered attorney who husband turned out to be gay. The gorgeous former actress who is now working at a furniture store. And last, there's the mom of two whose life unravels when she decides to leave her gambling husband.

Author Leslie Lehr does a good job of giving each woman her own distinct personality and storyline. All the woman have something in common- they are all much stronger and smarter than they give themselves credit for.

I zipped through this book quickly and found that Leslie is a great storyteller. Whether you are divorced or married, this is the ideal summer read. It's juicy and sexy in parts, funny in other parts and ends with a satisfying resolution for all four women.

Which of the four women you wrote about do you relate to the most? And you can't say a little bit of all four!

Diane. She began as the main narrator before I switched to rotating chapters. She's the most real to me, the everymom who sacrificed so much and has little to show for it except starting over and trying to be there for her kids in a way that will be best for them all later. I truly wanted to start a business for divorced women -- the learning curve is so huge then the information is wasted and why not have a AAA discount for women who need it.

I got one from many sources unofficially, free coffee, a discounted coffee table, I even got off a speeding ticket, when I shared my woe in a cheerful way with others who had been there, done that and knew the struggle. Mi Piace is a real restaurant where the manager made me feel comfortable dining alone and gave me champagne when I had my final divorce decree and told me I should have whatever I want.

My best friend from London sent me the first sex toy I'd ever seen, and my teenage daughter and I were both warned about being sexually high risk from my doctor! It's also true that each character shares other experiences I've had: Bonnie and I are both Buckeyes and had our cars stolen from a grocery store right in the thick of things; Lana and I share film experience and a love of the beach; and Annette and I both had a heartbreaking fling that taught us more about what we want than what we lost.

If you could be one of the women for a day, who would you chose? I think Id like to look like Lana! And be her too.

Oh yes, Lana has the most fun. And yet Annette is the coolest, I think, the ice queen in Armani.

Where did the idea of Instant Pleasures come from? Would Diane's storyline have been different if she chose to sell...oh I don't know...gourmet dog food?

The idea was inspired by a gift my friend sent to help when I was down - it prompted a sexual rebirth which turned out to be not only common, but instrumental with many women beginning a second act. Gail Sheehy's book, Sex and Seasoned Woman allowed me to talk openly with others about what used to be a taboo topic. And when I went to have sushi for the first time by myself, I happened to sit by another woman dining alone - who had a sex toy company! It was perfect, because wanted Diane to be smart enough t have an MBA but have a rough time on ramping back to work like so many of us do with hours and pay and experience.

The divorce laws that profess to be fair to educated women are way ahead of the reality. And Diane needed to have tough choices in terms of what was considered respectable in her new career: challenge some boundaries. Is divorce respectable? Despite the numbers, doesn't feel that way when you have so much invested in it - dreams and kids and years on the softball field. This business was a thematic metaphor for the divorce -- you can have sex with or without a partner, just like life. And when I discovered Pure Romance, Inc., this fabulous Fortune 500 company begun by a woman and empowering women to support themselves and encourage our natural sexuality, it just clicked for the story. While the company is behind this book 100%, I wasn't sure of legalities, so Diane ultimately uses the name of a Rufus Wainwright song my daughter played. The lyrics shocked me until I realized that they end with a plea of how tough it is to truly find love.

What is the last book you read?

The Female Brain by Dr. Luanne Brazelton, has a whole chapter letting me off the hook with my teenage daughters. It was a relief to know that, as they would say: it's so not about me. I also like Anatomy of Story - the author is a genius. As for novels, I'm all over the place, but have a soft spot for Caroline Leavitt and Laura Zigman.

Imagine you're let loose in the mall with five hundred dollars to spend. How do you spend your money?

A fabulous dress. I love dresses, but there are not enough fabulous ones to choose from. Then again, maybe with $500....

Do you ever read self help books or practice the ideologies from The Secret? I love to hear how successful people become successful.

I used to think that self help books were for the weak. Then my husband left me. Then he wanted to come back and I wasn't so sure.... and I found this great self help book about how to decide and I was hooked. Wayne Dyer's Power of Intention saved my life. Out of the blue, a friend's husband gave me the tapes and I listened in the car. I still do. When The Secret came out, one of my friends, the one married one who stuck with me through my divorce, called me all excited that she read it and recognized that I already knew it.

I think there's a lot of good information out there people have gathered wisdom forever, after all, but it's a matter of timing and luck -- and your intention - about when, and exactly what, works for you. That said, I can tell when I need to listen to Wayne again, have the faith that things will work out, and believe in myself and the universe enough to take the steps to make it happen.

Would you rather date Ben Affleck or Matt Damon? Did you see the infamous Jimmy Kimmel-Sarah Silverman videos?

Neither, and no. I still resent the boys' Oscar too much to crush on either type. They had so much help with a formulaic script, I can't get past it. Plus, I'm old enough to appreciate Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and was very happy to linger on that end shot of George Clooney in Michael Clayton. And lately my reality is better than any fantasy, being adored by a flesh and blood man who shows up on time with flowers and is taking me to Paris - is better than someone reading lines someone wrote anytime!

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Oops, think I covered that one. A Wrinkle In Time by the late Madeline L'Engle is my all time favorite book. I read it to my kids' elementary school classes and always embarrassed them by crying when Meg calls out to her little brother to break the spell of the evil "It" : "I love you Charles Wallace!" Still makes my heart pound. Still embarrasses my kids.:-)

Do you have any words of phrases that you use on a daily basis? I use words that were last heard during the eighties.

Like what? Since I am trying not to work on weekends, I probably say TGIF way too often. Mostly, I try not to repeat my girls' use of "like."

Where did you grow up? How was your childhood and teen years? Did any experiences prepare you for becoming a writer?

Yikes! I grew up in Ohio and both of my parents were professors at Ohio State. I was a big reader and I always wrote, but I never wanted to be a writer. In fact, I would still discourage people from writing if they have a better career option - something with better hours and guaranteed pay. But when you have something to say, it's really hard not to take advantage of any opportunity to say it. I think it's important. On the personal side, my parents had a long and violent divorce, which made me more determined to stay married despite not having a good role model fora husband. That, in turn, prompted my absolute shock at how happy I was once I finally made the heart wrenching decision...and led me to write this book so other women don't waste so much time being afraid of being alone. We are not alone! This is not our mothers' divorce! They didn't air their dirty laundry, now we wash it together. Husbands may come and go, but friends are forever.

I'm so excited that you wrote a movie which will be on Lifetime TV. Now that the writers strike is over, what's the scoop with the movie?

Right now, everyone is really excited about Wife Goes On, so my screenplay for them, "Welcome to Club Divorce," is on hold until my tour is over. Lifetime has made a lot of changes in the past year, lots more humor and modern takes on life, so I expect to be writing a new draft that reflects their new direction. Rumor has it, they want my project to be their answer to the "Starter Wife" series. It's all good. Plus, I'm almost finished with another book, I'm teaching a bit for the Writers Program at UCLA, raising my daughters...this Wife Goes On!

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