If you’re looking for a fun, totally over-the-top beach read that is an outlandish take on Hollywood life, Gigi Levangie’s book Been There, Married That is for you. While it had a few bumps at the start, I could easily overlook it for the snark and the fun.
Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy. Some links in this post are affiliate links that earn me a commission if you purchase through them. All opinions are my own.
Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group Genres: Family Life, Fiction, Humorous, Marriage & Divorce, Women
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Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie is a rapid-fire snark fest, focusing on the stereotype of the vapid, silicone-laden, entitled, trophy-wife Hollywood culture, where the assistants have assistants, the kids have multiple nannies, and appearances are everything. These are people for whom socializing is a job, the nannies get replaced when the kids start calling them “mommy”, and getting work done is expected.
I absentmindedly sipped a tequila concoction, hypnotized by bedazzled Hollywood wives’ tales. Topics: schools, nannies, #resistance, Aspen, Cabo, poop tea. One wife was very proud of the fact that she does all her son’s homework.
He’s at USC.
Agnes is supposed to be above it all (as a wife who DARES to have a career as a writer) but she still indulges in SoulCycle and whatever other “in” fitness to keep her hubby happy. She has bought into the job description of the Hollywood wife. She’s an awkward blend of smart and clueless. For starters, in a world where divorces are common, she seems a bit daft to NOT take any action to protect herself. In fact, she initially just goes about her day as if nothing has changed.
The storylines were both eye-rolling and ire-rasing; the characters’ behaviors made me both laugh and exasperated (my eyes hurt from rolling them so hard). I mentioned that it was snarky, right?
“Lip filler lemmings,” I said. “I’d tell them to jump off a cliff into the Pacific, but we all know silicone floats.”
From the Triplets- the Spanish-speaking help (who I sometimes had a hard time keeping up with WHAT exactly their jobs were), to the entitled starlets who move into the now on-the-market mansion “to try it out”; from Agnes’ “frenemies”, to the outrageous attitudes (when her husband calls an intervention for her supposed eating habit problem – she eats too many almonds – and sends her to rehab in the midst of marriage issues and a possible divorce) Aggie views it as a bit of a “spa vacation” and agrees to go.
I struggled with the latter a bit.
I took a deep breath. Here I was, a healthy, sober person considering a stint in rehab. As a human being, this sounded insane. But I wasn’t a normal human being. I was a writer. And to a writer, it sounded … irresistible. What happens when a
goes to rehab? nonaddict Why,this story could write itself…
Ok, so as a writer…I kind of get this, but still. I find that writers I know tend to have overactive imaginations, too, so I found it hard to believe she wouldn’t read more into this attempt to send her away. The timing should have been…concerning.
At times the story jumped awkwardly. In fairness, I couldn’t tell if this was the writing or bad formatting in the digital ARC I was reading. (It could have been missing chapter breaks, I suppose.) The first half of the book felt almost manic and a bit all over the place. (There is a lot of stream of consicousness coming from Aggie.) However, once the divorce started to actually progress in the second half of the book, the pace grew steadier.
The characters were outrageous in a fun-to-read/”glad I don’t know them” way. Agnes’ sister Fin was a particular delight (and I would read the heck out of a story that focuses on Fin); her moody but equally snarky daughter Pep, her friend Liz, who is smart (with an unused Ph.D.) and also snarky. (Did I mention this was a snarky book?)
However – her husband Trevor? He was an annoying narcissist and I honestly struggled to see what she saw in him in the later years of her marriage. Despite this, she didn’t seem to be too pre-emptive when he talked about divorce (or, more the case, most of Hollywood knew about the divorce, with the exception of Agnes.) I also couldn’t figure him out. He seems to outsmart her on every turn when it comes to setting her up to be the bad guy in the divorce, but he can’t handle it when they move everything of his by an inch just to set him off. (How does he get anything done?)
I did want to see her get angrier, or show some amount of frustration. (How does ANYONE live anywhere with no access to cash or credit cards?) Calling out some some parts as unbelievable is tricky, because really, the whole story was a bit outrageous (in a fun way). And the snark WAS delicious.
We all knew, deep inside, our kids were probably growing up to be entitled, overeducated blobs. We were raising hothouse flowers, unequipped to climb a fence or fry an egg or spend five minutes bored…Hollywood moms had thrown our Lululemon-clad bodies atop an “uncomfortable moment” grenade since baby took his first steps.
“When the revolution comes,” I said, “our kids will be food.”
I’m giving this three-and-a-half stars, rounding up to four, because of the uneven and manic start, but I could overlook it because it was such a hoot. Perfect for fans of Laura Weisberger’s THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA/WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS.