Chick lit genre are delightful and fun reads. They are fictions about strong female characters who are sassy, fun, resourceful, smart and capable. These characters can be warm, kind and have strong sense of justice even if they are flawed just like every human on this earth. They go through their heartbreaks and rise to their work challenges and strive to achieve a life balance. These fictions are normally relatable as the plot revolves around women who juggle between family life and career goals. The plot often centres on conflicts and choices that confront modern women who want to have it all.
Female solidarity is at the centre of the story in When Life Gives You Lululemons written by Lauren Weisberger.It is the New Year. The story is mainly set in Greenwich, Connecticut, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured and enter the infamous new neighbour, Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel who is married to an ambitious senator-husband.
Emily Charlton, a character from The Devil Wears Prada and former first assistant to Miranda Priestly has left Runway magazine and become a stylist and image consultant to celebrities. She is far from social media savvy, at her lowest point and has lost a few clients to a younger agent. When Karolina is arrested for a DUI , her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear. Emily happens to be in the neighbourhood staying with her good friend, Miriam Kagan who used to be a high-powered lawyer in New York, has quit her job to care for her three young children, a pair of twins and a son. She is making attempts to settle in Greenwich amongst the suburban housewives who hold ritzy parties during the day. Miriam is forever trying to shed off the extra pounds since she gave birth. Her husband , Paul has recently sold his start-up for millions and they moved into their new house six months ago. “Paul had never shown anything but complete support for her decisions. Whether she was working eighty hours a week at Skadden or enjoying her new, more leisurely life, he was completely behind her.” Nonetheless, she is restless.
‘ It was only the beginning of mile two, and she felt like she might die of suffocation. Her breaths came in jagged gulps, but no matter how deeply she took in air, Miriam was unable to slow her heart rate. She checked her Fitbit for the thousandth time in the past sixteen minutes – how could it have been only sixteen minutes?! – and briefly worried that the reading of 165 might kill her. Which would officially make her the only woman in all of Greenwich, or perhaps all the earth, who had dropped dead after running – really, if she were being honest, walking – a single lousy mile in sixteen minutes.
But she had shown up ! Wasn’t that all the feel-good bloggers and motivational authors were always screeching about? No judgments, just show up! Show up and you’ve already won the battle! Don’t expect perfection -showing up is enough! “ Fuckers,” she mumbled, streaming massive puffs of steam in the freezing January air. Motivating for a jog at seven o’clock in the morning on January 1 – was more than just showing up. It was a downright triumph.
After her morning run, when Miriam gets home, she takes the last pancake prepared by her husband. She has to set a good example for her daughter that food isn’t the enemy so she does not suffer from eating disorders. She allows her husband to squirt some whipped cream and there is a newspaper set before them. When she comes across the news article that blares the headline : ‘MADD : MOTHERS ALL_FOR DRUNK DRIVING! SENATOR”S WIFE SLAPPED with DUI …WITH KIDS IN THE CAR.’, she immediately checks in with Karolina because she does not believe any of it is true. Unfortunately she has to leave a message in Karolina’s voice mail. Miriam got to know Karolina when they both were in their senior year studying at the American School in Paris. Karolina was there modelling and learning English on the side and Miriam had to follow her parents there on a posting.
Through the third person’s voice, we get to know each main character’s perspectives. Emily is a cynical and edgy city girl and she is a keen observer when she attends those ritzy parties held by the housewives. She concludes that making new friends in the suburbs is overrated. When they attend a “sip ‘n’ see party” to sip wine and see a newborn , the baby never makes an appearance instead they just ooh and ahh over an expensive cashmere blanket. Miriam is finding it hard to fit into Greenwich suburban setting despite after spending over a decade knowing exactly where she fit in city life. She begins to panic when she hears the exchange between her co-room mom, Ashley and Claire, the hostess who has invited them to a Thursday night get-together for the women in the neighbourhood where there will be plenty of wine and a little shopping.
‘Ashley gazed at Claire’s midriff. “ I so regret not doing my stomach when I did the boobs. And not to do the vag! I wasn’t thinking. What, just because I had three C-sections didn’t guarantee my entire pelvic floor wouldn’t get demo’d. Tampons fall out when I do jumping jacks.”
“ I hear you.” Clair nodded. “ Sex was like throwing a hot dog down a hallway. I didn’t care so much, but my God, Eddie could not stop bitching about it. I mean, like , two perfect children aren’t enough, now he wants me tight as a teenager?”
“ Of course he does. They all do. And he got what he wanted!”
Claire feigned embarrassment. “He sure did.”
Miriam laughed along with everyone, but inside she felt a stab of panic. Was that why Paul had seemed so uninterested lately? She’d had a vaginal delivery with Ben and then a C-section with the twins. She didn’t outright wet herself when she laughed or sneezed or jumped ——wasn’t that enough ? Or was she missing something crucial?’
Laura Weisberger is hilarious in describing the affectations and lives of these wealthy Greenwich mothers. Beneath all that glitz and extravagance, these women appear insecure as they prize themselves primarily on body image to the extent that they undergo plastic surgery to look stunningly beautiful. Despite all their material success, their self- esteem seems to be wanting. With the help of Emily, the image consultant, who is tough, witty, independent and resourceful and coupled with Miriam’s legal expertise and research skills, Karolina manages to redeem herself from the scorn and humiliations that she suffers following a scandal orchestrated by the doing of someone powerful.
When Life Gives You Lululemons is a story about love, betrayal, motherhood and friendship. It is an engaging and fun read for a delightful and restful weekend.