Vanessa M.Vanessa is a disgruntled housewife.  The predicament she is in all stems from trying to please her mother.  She married a really nice guy who really loves her, even though she didn’t want to get married.   She then gets pregnant  even though she doesn’t want or even like kids.   She has worked at a job for ten years which  she dislikes immensely.

Sounds like Diary of a Mad Housewife by Sue Kaufman, doesn’t it.  Well, it is, except our Vanessa is  not quite as upscale as Kaufman’s protagonist.

You want to know how old I am?  I am old enough to not have any tolerance for all this middle class white woman whining about how sucky their lives are.   It makes my teeth itch.  I just want to grab them by the shoulders and yell, “SUCK IT UP, YOU SPOILED B*TCH!”   If you don’t like your life, then DO something about it.  Don’t just sit there whinging about how your nice husband gets on your nerves and you don’t like your 8-year -old kid, and the only reason you tolerate that job you hate is because it means you don’t have to be around your kid very much.

She has to take her daughter to the doctor for shots, and usually the child gets a present after shots if she is good and doesn’t have a tantrum, so after the shots, she starts her demanding of a present.  Vanessa is tired and wired, and it is late and she doesn’t want to go to the store this evening, so tells the girl they will go tomorrow.  The kid has a screaming fit in the car, screaming that she wants her daddy, whereupon  Vanessa has a meltdown.  She pulls over to the side of the road, drags the now astonished and silent kid out of the car and screams at her that since she wants her daddy so badly, go find him.  She shuts the passenger door, gets back in the car and drives off.

Well!  Cut my legs and call me shorty!

Haven’t I wanted to do that a time or two myself.

Vanessa just goes around the block intending to stop back and pick up her daughter, and when she arrives, the police are there, there’s a crowd gathered, and she is written up for abandoning a child.  The judge sentences her to jail time or forty sessions with a psychologist.  She chooses the shrink route.

After a couple of months with the shrink, she decides she needs to radically change her life to climb out of the depression in which she is mired.   She starts with the marriage, and announces she is leaving ….. for a while.  The husband is gobsmacked, and starts divorce proceedings right away.  She moves in with her aunt, leaving her child in the custody of her husband.

And on and on and on.    She quits her job, starts a cake baking business, and finally is feeling good about herself and her child and after being away for almost a year, realizes she still loves her husband, and now has a brand new perspective on life.

Yeah.  The old you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone thing.

A lot of people loved this book.  I didn’t think much of Diary of a Mad Housewife when I read it in the 60s, and I don’t think much of this book here in the second decade of the new millenium.  Don’t get me wrong:   it was an excellent book.  Nicely plotted and paced, with very good writing.   I just couldn’t find any shreds of sympathy for Vanessa.  And I was devastated to find, once again, that another woman author feels the answer to our problems is a M.A.N.     She [spoiler alert] goes back with her husband, who of course has found he really wants her back.  So in the end, NOTHING has changed except now she has a cake baking business instead of a job working for the Man.

Boredom.  Tedium.   Ho hum.  A dangerous condition, wouldn’t you say?


2 comments on “THE STRANGE YEAR OF VANESSA M. by Flipa Fonseca Silva

  1. Deb Atwood says:

    This does sound a little tedious. Have you read The Ladder of Years by Ann Tyler? Similar premise–unhappy housewife–but I found myself really drawn to the protagonist of that one. There was also a dark comic effect to the writing.


  2. Marti says:

    I think I have read Ladder of Years, but a really long time ago, so don’t remember it. Vanessa was not exactly tedious; I have simply moved past being sympathetic with other people’s existential angst. I always want to shake them by their shoulders and yell “GET A GRIP! SUCK IT UP AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!” into their face. So, basically, Vanessa does do something about it. I am just disappointed in the ending.


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