Monday, June 2, 2008

Review: Sleeping with Ward Cleaver


Wham, bam, no-thank-you, ma'am. That about sums up the sex life of Claire Doolittle. Not-so-happily married to Jack—once the man of her dreams but now a modern-day version of the bossy, dull Ward Cleaver of ’50s sitcom fame—Claire is at the end of her rope. Gone are the glorious days of flings in elevators and broom closets. Jack? All he needs is a cardigan and a billowing pipe to become the domineering father figure Claire never wanted. And looking at her body in the mirror, Claire would cast herself as Lumpy. They’d once had a world of color, of wanton frivolity. Now, life’s black and white: a sitcom in reruns. A not-very-funny sitcom. Cue an old boyfriend—the "one that got away"—throw in a predatory hottie who's set her sights on our leading man, and watch Claire's world spiral out of control.

In the old TV show, the Beaver always got a happy ending. Stay tuned. -- Dorchester Publications

When Jenny Gardiner contacted me a few weeks ago about reading her debut novel SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER, I was absolutely thrilled. The book's title and cover caught my attention a few months ago when I first saw it on Dorchester Publications' website. I was a pretty big fan of the Leave it to Beaver television series when I was a child, so how could I resist? Add to that the book's summary which sounded hilarious, and I just knew I had to read it.

I have to admit up front that I am a little biased towards Ms. Gardiner. Like me, she is a Penn State graduate; so that automatically makes her part of my extended family (albeit I'm not sure that she wants to be part of my family.) All that Nittany Lion stuff aside, Ms. Gardiner is a very funny, talented writer -- she even won the Romantic Times/Dorchester Publishing sponsored American Title contest in 2007. Within the first few pages of this book, I was laughing out loud. The book does take a more serious turn as Claire tries to repair her marriage, but there are still lots (and lots) of very funny scenes!

I think every mom who has been married for awhile can relate to this book! I don't want to say that my life mirrors Claire's life exactly (because my marriage isn't in shambles), but I could certainly relate to so much of what she was saying about her life as a mother -- taking forgotten lunch boxes to school (on numerous occasions,) cleaning up vomit and pet messes, feeling exhausted at the end of the day, and forgetting who we were before we became mothers! What mother hasn't experienced these feeelings some of the time?

I really enjoyed the overall message that I got from reading this book -- that you and your partner both have to work together to keep the "zing" in your marriage. It is just so easy to get caught up in the hectic nature of everyday life that we forget to take care of ourselves and each other. This book was really about Claire re-discovering herself and remembering why she fell in love with Jack in the first place. I like that both Claire and Jack looked at their behavior and mutually accepted blame for the problems in their marriage. Together, they worked on fixing things. I just love happy endings!

I would love the opportunity to meet Ms. Gardiner someday -- I have a feeling that she is a laugh a minute! In the meantime, I'll have to be satisfied with reading her weekly essays on The Debutante Ball (a grog which I love and follow everyday.) If you'd like to learn more about Ms. Gardiner, you can visit her website and read this interview.

SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER is a hilarious read that's perfect for the summer (and it retails for $6.99 so it's quite a bargain.) If this book sounds like something you are interested in, make sure you come back tomorrow. Not only will I be running a contest to give one lucky reader a copy of SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER, but I will also be posting a wonderful essay written by guest blogger Jenny Gardiner.

Also reviewed at:
A Book Blogger's Diary
J. Kaye's Book Blog


Jenny Gardiner said...

Hey Julie! Thanks so much for the LOVELY review--I'm so glad you enjoyed Sleeping with Ward Cleaver! And I'll be sure to let you know whenever I do get around to setting up some signings your way--it's on that never-ending to-do list ;-)

Anonymous said...

I have this one on my nightstand and will begin it soon. Your post has really gotten me excited!

Anonymous said...

From what you said, this books sounds like something that people can relate in their real life. I think there might be a solution to all of the problems! :P I guess I'll have to read to find out!

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

Judging from your review this book will strike a chord with a lot of readers. I know it sounds very familiar to me! LOL Sometimes life can become mundane or you can get lost and its easy to forget who you used to be. Having a sense of humor really helps to get thru that! I'm adding this book to my TBR list. I love books that make me laugh out loud even while telling a serious story. Laughter IS the best medicine!

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)