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The Mother-in-Law Diaries

A Novel

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Much to the surprise of his mother, Lulu Penfield's first-born son has gotten married. It's not that she minds; she's fairly sure that he's made a good choice. What's really eating at her is the realization that she is about to become--gasp--a mother-in-law. Lulu's been around the block more than a few times. She's had more than the average number of mothers-in-law, and she's found herself more than once figuring out how these women manage to embed themselves in her marriages. As mothers-in-law go, she's had some real doozies. There was the Budgeteer, who insisted on teaching Lulu how to squeeze every penny out of her measly salary, how to keep her house spic and span, how to give birth, and of course, how to nurse her baby. There was the witch, who was skilled at casting some rather damaging spells. Try crossing that mother-in-law. There was the cool and poised New Zealand mother-in-law, whose son slandered her at length, leaving Lulu to wonder just how true his stories were. And there was the ghost of a mother-in-law, who lingered in Lulu's husband's study and had a word or two for Lulu herself. Now there's Lulu, about to become the sacred mother to whom the daughter-in-law must bow, about to become the source of wisdom about the son--his sins, his past, his potential. In a funny, bittersweet novel, Dawson takes us through the ups and downs of marriages and mothers-in-law. THE MOTHER-IN-LAW DIARIES will ring true for every woman who's ever said "I do" and who didn't realize that she was marrying not one person, but two.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 04, 1999 – Candid, irreverent, funny and poignant, Dawson's fourth novel (after Dancing with the Minotaur) takes a fresh look at marriage and other social customs through the eyes of an engaging heroine. "Serial marriage is a kind of path, a continual fumbling toward love and commitment honorable intimacy," concludes protagonist Lulu Penfield at the end of her "diaries," basically a long letter to her son, Treatie, who has just announced he is married. Lulu's attempt to instruct her son on the grave responsibilies of matrimony results in a soul-searching recital of her own four trips to the altar, the shortcomings of the men she wed and her relationships with their mothers. Her account, spanning from the 1970s to the present, becomes a trip through the sexual revolution as experienced by a woman from a middle-class Texas family whose traditional expectations are at odds with real life. Lulu--feisty, restless and questing--is an appealing narrator who readily admits her propensity to make the same romantic mistake each time. Mark Brune is her Dallas high-school sweetheart and lasting love; she marries grad student Ted Vonick on the rebound and lives in Austin. Subsequent marriages follow: to a biologist in Palo Alto, Calif.; to an artist with whom she lives in London and his native New Zealand; and to a Berkeley journalist and reluctant stepfather to Lulu's three boys. Poor Lulu tries to make each marriage work, but her intelligence and sharp eye for the foibles of her husbands and their mothers (each of whom is a real piece of work) does not grant her self-knowledge. It takes Lulu half a lifetime to understand important truths about human nature and to appreciate at least one of her former mothers-in-law for the "magnitude of her heart." When Lulu finally achieves insight about her sad marital record, it is to ruefully admit that she has been "acting out the paradigm for an entire culture." Meanwhile, the reader has bonded with an endearingly fallible heroine and traveled with her on a distinctive but also universal quest for happiness. Author tour.
The Mother-in-Law Diaries
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Jan 01, 1999
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Print Length: 250 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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