March 9, 2017 | Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple is published by Orion. RRP$32.99, available now
Here’s the thing about this book – it totally blindsided me. Yes it’s a comedy, but it also is so much more than just that label.
TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT is the story of Eleanor Flood, a successful animator with a hit series ‘Looper Wash’ to her name. She is supposed to be working on a graphic novel, but motherhood and marriage are not playing nice with her ambitions. She realises she is in a state, knows she needs to find a way out, and she is trying to change. It is joyful (and hilarious) to read the witty and unique voice of Eleanor, and her charmingly different son, Timby.
Timby fakes illness to get out of school and on the way home, Eleanor makes a chance visit to the office of her doctor husband (team doctor for the Sea Hawks football team) which yields an unwelcome surprise. According to staff there, her husband is apparently on vacation for the week with them. ‘You’re back!’ one of them exclaims…. Ooops!
So, just where is her husband, Joe? Is Eleanor’s grand plan to make today different one day too late?
Much hilarious, head scratching sleuthing follows and Eleanor runs into a former colleague who stirs up her past. Flashbacks to her sister and their history are so well done, including the brilliant portrayal of an absurd southern lifestyle, and the delicately handled unveiling of the fragile relationship between Ivy and Eleanor. This is family, wrapped up in comedy to cover the pain that sometimes comes with reality.
Setting is a strength in this novel, with memorable scenes at CostCo, an art museum, a performance hall and a scene at Timby’s School that had me snorting with laughter. But for me, the relationship between the Flood sisters was the heart of the novel and critical to the state of Eleanor’s current state of mind. The ‘look between the fingers’ cringe worthy climactic scene with Joe is brilliant, and I found it immensely satisfying.
This is a great book. Read it.
Maria Semple spent her early years traveling around Europe with her bohemian parents, but that ended abruptly when her father, Lorenzo Semple, Jr., finished a pilot for Batman while living in Torremolinos, Spain. He airmailed it in, they shot it, and the family moved to LA. After the Batman TV series and feature, Lorenzo went on to write a bunch of movies. Once he was established, the family moved to Aspen, Colorado.
Maria attended boarding school at Choate Rosemary and college at Barnard, where she majored in English. Maria moved to LA shortly after graduating Barnard and wrote screenplays which never got made, and then TV shows. 90210, Mad About You, Arrested Development and others. She quit to give fiction a try.
This One Is Mine was published by Little, Brown in 2008.
In 2008 Maria, George Meyer and their little daughter moved to Seattle just because. It was a difficult adjustment for Maria, which became the basis for Where’d You Go, Bernadette. The novel came out in 2012 and became an instant bestseller. Today Will Be Different is her latest.