From the author of Little Children and The Leftovers. A sexual comedy of errors focusing on a suburban woman who, when her casually misogynistic son goes off to college, develops a fixation with online porn that spills out perilously into her real life.
Mrs. Fletcher operates and succeeds in ways that will be pleasingly familiar to his admirers. It uses a fecund premise, a large cast of recognizable characters, a rotating point of view, a propulsive plot, a humane vision and clean, non-ostentatious (if occasionally uninspired) prose to explore a fraught cultural topic. There be dragons, yes, but decency mitigates the danger. Mrs. Fletcher is the sweetest and most charming novel about pornography addiction and the harrowing issues of sexual consent that you will probably ever read ... Perrotta steers through this miry slough with skill, sensitivity and good-natured confidence...A male writer’s depiction of a woman’s obsession with pornography risks prurience, but Perrotta consistently keeps his eyes up here — on Eve’s mind — and he does not reduce her to her sexuality. And while the allegorical shoe certainly fits (her name is Eve and she enjoys forbidden fruits), Perrotta’s tender attention keeps her round and real.
I can think of no other novel that so expertly illuminates that empty, middle-aged feeling when even marital bitterness and filial pride fails us ... one of the pleasures of this novel is watching Eve try to discover what she wants to be. And what she ends up wanting to be is a woman who — much to her surprise — watches a lot of online pornography. This is Perrotta at his best: Where other writers would turn to satire, or outrage, or a deep dive attempt to shock-and-awe the reader, Perrotta empathizes ... If I’m making this novel sound as if it’s obsessed with sex, that’s because it is — agreeably so. I say agreeably because Perrotta is a contrarian: He knows how and why a writer should celebrate a thing that often gets condemned, and then how and why to shut down the celebration when it gets out of hand. This is why he’s one of our best comic writers: because of the way he balances light and dark.
The sinews of Perrotta’s fiction are the tensions within and between characters, tensions that he steadily and artfully amplifies until the reader becomes possessed by curiosity about how they’ll be resolved ... Though Perrotta’s novels are rarely beautiful, they are never dull, as beautifully written novels can often be ... If Mrs. Fletcher has a theme, it’s the reshaping of American erotic life by technology ... An amiable, diverting novel, Mrs. Fletcher doesn’t wedge itself as firmly into America’s fault lines as many of Perrotta’s other books do. It features no religious zealots or sexual predators or dementedly ambitious overachievers, just a few souls blundering into a future whose contours they can never quite make out, looking for love and doing the best that they can.