I chose to read Laura Rider’s Masterpiece based on the cover art by Anne Twomey, showing glamorous, 1950’s styled characters, a female writer and a couple swept up in a romance which she has seemingly created. The story itself is a dark comedy, which I quite enjoyed too.
Laura Rider is the heroine of this novel and is a woman who decides what she wants and then makes it happen. She was married to Charlie for 12 years when she decided she was sick of sex with him, even though he was a wonderful, enthusiastic lover. If Charlie is unhappy with these arrangements he remains good tempered and surprisingly gracious, and he and Laura behave lovingly and kindly to each other. Despite his enforced celibacy, she and Charlie have created a whimsical, beautiful garden and a successful business, Prairie Winds Farm Nursery.
When Charlie unexpectedly meets Laura’s idol, Jenna Faroli, who hosts a popular talk back radio show, to Laura’s delight, he and Jenna swap email addresses.
Laura, whose latest dream is to write novels, in particular a genre she has invented called ‘conscious romance,’ assists Charlie with his emails to Jenna with the intention of engineering a friendship and possibly even a romance between them, which she intends to use as fodder for her writing.
Things go according to Laura’s plan. Charlie and Jenna become friends and then lovers (three cheers for Charlie, who reminds me dogs who happily hump people’s legs with dopey looks on their faces). The turning point in the novel and romance is when Laura accidently attaches one of Jenna’s steamy emails to Charlie to the nursery’s newsletter, and sends it out to nearly a thousand people the night before Jenna has Laura as a guest on her radio show.
Years ago my husband was accidently Cc’d an explicit email which a married man of his acquaintance had sent to his mistress, along with everyone else in this man’s address book. The married man and his wife got a divorce soon after, the wife got the house and I’m not sure what the mistress got. A cheating husband of her own perhaps. The wife, who had been an unhappy woman when they were married, smiled a lot more after the divorce, so I suppose there was a happy ending.
Anyway, back to the story. Jenna is furious, Charlie is heartbroken and Laura envisions herself as a wildly successful writer, and somehow you just know Laura will get what she wants.
I will look out for other books by Jane Hamilton, The book of Ruth and When Madeline Was Young are supposed to be very good. The lesson for me in Laura Rider’s Masterpiece is to check emails very carefully before hitting ‘send.’