Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
You know that scene from the Oscars last night? The one where La La Land won, then didn’t win? Well that could have come straight from a Maria Semple novel. The craziness, the cringing, the idea of what NEVER could, NEVER should happen, but then does. That was all very reminiscent of Maria Semple and two of the most entertaining books I have read in the past few years, “Where’d you Go, Bernadette” and her latest novel “Today will be Different”.
“Where’d you Go, Bernadette” was a sleeper. One of those strange novels almost impossible to pigeon hole and with a quirkiness that makes its success so unpredictable and therefore so much more fun.
But while in “Where’d you Go, Bernadette”, one had the feeling that Maria Semple wasn’t quite sure how “different”, quirky and edgy she could allow her main character to be, in “Today will be Different” it is obvious that the success of Bernadette has emboldened her to go all in with her new protagonist Eleanor Flood.
The novel takes place during one “out of control” day in the life of Eleanor Flood, a former (“has been”) tv writer trying to come to terms with a marooned career in a status obsessed world; her son Timby who attends an equally status obsessed Seattle private school and who owes his name to the auto correct function of his mother’s smartphone; and Joe, her hand surgeon husband who seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth.
Into the roller coaster ride of Eleanor’s day Maria Semple inserts Eleanor’s memories of the past, in particular her relationship with her sister Ivy whose life in the exaggerated southern elite culture of New Orleans adds spice as well as bewilderment to the more shaken than stirred cocktail Ms Semple offers up.
“Today will be Different” is a wonderfully funny and satirical, yet at times quite moving and serious novel that will please fans of "Bernadette" and I am sure initiate new members into the Maria Semple fan club.
Janet Maslin of The New York Times put it perfectly when she wrote in her review that “Maria Semple’s Today will be Different serves up screwball with Soul.” Happy Reading!