When It Happens To You – Molly Ringwald – 8/10

“It seemed to Greta that Theresa was one of those girls who spent all of her time being an imposition while obviously trying not to be an imposition. Almost everything Theresa said or did broadcast the message ‘I won’t take it for myself. You’ll have to give it to me.'”

Molly Ringwald’s debut novel is described as a novel in stories and is really a short story collection in which the characters recur from one story to another – it reminded me of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad, which I disliked for its self-important and experimental nature. I much prefer Ringwald’s model, in which the characters are recurring although only tenuously, but time marches forwards rather than jumping about all over the place the way it did in Goon Squad.

Without the writing ever being spectacular or showy, Ringwald repeatedly pinpoints moments of life with heartrending accuracy – Greta’s desire to wear something a bit more flattering in case there are photos, Betty’s grief still being so deep that she pours an extra cup of tea even though her husband hasn’t been there to drink it in seven years. She writes with elegance about ageing and aimlessness, about a search for purpose and what happens when someone with extraordinary drive channels it in an unsuitable direction.

The heavy focus on relationships and adultery is perhaps to be expected in a novel about betrayal, although it does get pretty depressing. The chapters vary in strength, but that might be because a given reader will empathise with certain characters but not others. This is very much a women’s book – the men are generally negatively characterised (philandering, confused or dead).

Worth a read; I found it engrossing and elegant, if somewhat disheartening.

Side note: Molly Ringwald, author, is also Molly Ringwald, teenage star of films such as The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. Which I’m glad I didn’t know before I read the book, because I think I would have judged the writing more harshly.

Copy kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 237 pages (hardback).
Order When it Happens to You from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting

Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

5 thoughts on “When It Happens To You – Molly Ringwald – 8/10

  1. […] Reading With Tea Physicist turned accountant wades through classic and modern literature Skip to content HomeBooks I have readBooks Read 2009-10Books read 2011Books to be readCompletist Author readingClassic Authors A-GClassic Authors H-SClassic Authors T-ZModern Authors A-KModern Authors L-ZMan Booker Prize1969 Man Booker Prize1970 Man Booker Prize1971 Man Booker Prize1972 Man Booker Prize1973 Man Booker Prize1974 Man Booker Prize1975 Man Booker Prize1976 Man Booker Prize1977 Man Booker Prize1978 Man Booker Prize1979 Man Booker Prize1980 Man Booker Prize1981 Man Booker Prize1982 Man Booker Prize1983 Man Booker Prize1984 Man Booker Prize1985 Man Booker Prize1986 Man Booker Prize1987 Man Booker Prize1988 Man Booker Prize1989 Man Booker Prize1990 Man Booker Prize1991 Man Booker Prize1992 Man Booker Prize1993 Man Booker Prize1994 Man Booker Prize1995 Man Booker Prize1996 Man Booker Prize1997 Man Booker Prize1998 Man Booker Prize1999 Man Booker Prize2000 Man Booker Prize2001 Man Booker Prize2002 Man Booker Prize2003 Man Booker Prize2004 Man Booker Prize2005 Man Booker Prize2006 Man Booker Prize2007 Man Booker Prize2008 Man Booker Prize2009 Man Booker Prize2010 Man Booker PrizeMan Booker Best of BerylThe Lost Booker PrizeOrange Award for New WritersOrange Prize for Fiction1996 Orange Prize1997 Orange Prize1998 Orange Prize1999 Orange Prize2000 Orange Prize2001 Orange Prize2002 Orange Prize2003 Orange Prize2004 Orange Prize2005 Orange Prize2006 Orange Prize2007 Orange Prize2008 Orange Prize2009 Orange Prize2010 Orange Prize2011 Orange PrizeChallenges 2012Challenges 2012: ClassicsChallenges 2012: CountriesChallenges 2012: GenresChallenges 2012: The TBR pileChallenges 2012: Types of bookDramatis PersonaeReview PolicyWho’s Drinking All The Tea? ← When It Happens To You – Molly Ringwald – 8/10 […]

  2. Chinoiseries 4 October 2012 at 7:28 pm Reply

    I was slightly confused when I saw the name Molly Ringwald. Immediately, I was reminded of The Breakfast Club and some of her other movies. It is amazing that she has now turned author and had written an interesting debut (?) Like you, Goon Squad did not sit well with me. This book sounds so much better!

    • readingwithtea 5 October 2012 at 7:54 am Reply

      The structure works MUCH better than in Goon Squad – definitely the linear time progression!

  3. Ellie Potten (@Bookshop_Girl) 4 October 2012 at 10:16 pm Reply

    I’m actually really looking forward to getting my hands on this one! From what I’ve heard she’s a pretty insightful writer and the book sounds right up my street. Consider it boosted up my library list (and in the meantime, I’m getting the sudden urge to watch The Breakfast Club… though I’m sorry, but John Bender will always be my favourite!). 😉

    • readingwithtea 5 October 2012 at 7:53 am Reply

      I’ve only watched it once but I have to admit I didn’t find it the most memorable movie…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: