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.
Perrotta is an affectionate comic writer, but to his own detriment, he has mastered the art of suburban titillation — and he rests on it. Although lusty subjects thrum through this novel, they’re often blanched. The effect can feel like reading the essays of Camille Paglia printed on slices of Wonder Bread ... In the libidinous groves of academe, Brendan finds his romantic thrusts blunted by women more sophisticated, enlightened and aggressive than his pliant high school sweetheart. And yet his story never develops the psychological depth or satiric edge to make these scenes sufficiently moving, witty or arresting ... Without a more discerning narrative voice and a greater willingness to explore the complexity of desire, there’s nothing to disturb the comfortable patter of Mrs. Fletcher. The novel hovers awkwardly between farce and psychological realism. Its neat checklist of sexual experiences — Lesbians! MILFs! Three-ways! — starts to feel like a weird session of Wednesday night bingo.
There’s a lot about Mrs. Fletcher that seems like a think piece in response to a think piece about 'the way we live now,' and some of the pleasing coherence of Perrotta’s previous novels is perhaps lost in service of this goal. The book occupies a strange territory between legitimately horny romp (the reader hears so much about Mrs. Fletcher’s famous boobs that she can’t help but begin to picture them herself) and a rather pat smorgasbord of current issues faced by characters who haven’t had occasion to think much about them before. But there’s a satisfying honesty to this thematic bluntness. Our president just banned trans people from the military via tweet, after all. It’s not really Tom Perrotta who’s on the nose; it’s America.
Initially, Eve is a convincing, sympathetic heroine. She shows insight into the demise of her marriage and non-cliché self-awareness that, in the marital tango, her own missteps have contributed to its downfall … Even with the last half of the novel devoted more to hook-ups than plot or character development, Mr. Perrotta could have veered away from farce and redeemed this book by allowing his characters, and therefore his readers, to gain some wisdom from the various sexual shenanigans and gender-bending encounters. But the final chapter of the novel is jarring: It takes place several months later and Eve’s friends, along with her new sexual appetites, have inexplicably drifted away into what almost feels like an editorially dictated demand for a conservative, happy ending.
...raunchy, hilarious and unexpectedly sweet ... Perrotta is extraordinarily gifted at capturing the relationship between Eve and her son ... Mrs. Fletcher isn't the first book by Perrotta to mix dark humor with serious issues; he's done so before in novels like Election and Little Children. But his latest might just be his best — it's a stunning and audacious book, and Perrotta never lets his characters take the easy way out. Uncompromisingly obscene but somehow still kind-hearted, Mrs. Fletcher is one for the ages.
Brendan is desperately apologetic and basically well-meaning. Given today’s campus battles with actual sexual assault, this episode carries political implications I’m not sure Perrotta intended. The narrative meanders, enlivened here and there with inventive scenes ... As sections shift among different characters’ points of view, getting into the heads of not just Eve and Brendan but even minor characters, Perrotta demonstrates his keen ability to channel varying perspectives. His ear for dialogue, as always, is pitch-perfect. Unfortunately, dramatic tension is minimal. People do this, and people do that. It’s wrapped up in a too tidy ending that, while not entirely unpredictable, is too disconnected from what has come before it. But Mrs. Fletcher is light and pleasant reading, and sometimes on a summer day, while sitting outdoors with a cool drink, that’s all you need.
Mrs. Fletcher boasts Perrotta's well-honed blend of sharp social observation, deadpan humor and characters the reader cares about even when they behave badly. When he zeroes in on that bad behavior, he's not a Puritan clucking at dirty pictures; he's a writer exploring the effects of a force that can isolate human beings rather than bring them together.
Because he has perfect pitch when it comes to shading the emotional states of his characters, Perrotta can make you believe anything ... a delicious, tragicomic and finally forgiving take on the mistakes we modern people can’t seem to stop making. Mrs. Fletcher is a delight.
Mrs. Fletcher is an intelligent novel that weaves together all the old issues about relationships along with contemporary issues of identity. Perrotta sprinkles in enough pop culture and current events to give the novel a truly 2017 feel ... Perrotta expertly explores sexual identity, gender, pornography, and sex. This is a novel about overcoming ignorance. It urges readers to take advantage of opportunities for self-analysis and enlightenment. We must listen to each other’s stories.
Tom Perrotta has shown himself to be your go-to guy to take the crazy pulse of America and make a wise and witty diagnosis. His beleaguered characters fight the confines of their culture, and make disastrous errors in judgment. But they do so with such humanity and insight that you can’t help feeling for them. Perrotta’s latest novel, the sublimely funny Mrs. Fletcher, is no different ... Perrotta is astute about complex social problems, including how well a mother and grown son can understand one another, what it means to be transgender and lonely, what our sexual mores really mean, and how anyone different — whether autistic or sexually fluid — can find a comfortable place in a confusing world ... in this shimmeringly satisfying novel, Perrotta uses the sense of loneliness like a propeller, raising these characters into glorious flight if they can just let themselves trust that they have wings.
...you will either like Perrotta's new novel Mrs. Fletcher a lot, or else you will like it a lot and also loathe it a little bit at the same time. Those are your only options; it's such a charismatic, intelligent book that even when you feel its author consciously (cynically?) examining cultural fault lines — transgender identity, rape, autism — you never want to stop reading ... To his credit, nearly all of Perrotta's books have a great female character at their heart, and Eve is another. She's smart and brave, her vulnerability forcing her into acts of courage ... That's the paradox of Perrotta's work. When he's most eager to tell us who we are, he occasionally falters, whereas in his more realistic, less topical moods, he stands on a par with our finest writers of popular literary fiction.
The book goes from 'this is great' to 'is that it?' in record time as an abrupt third act leaves too many strands unresolved or forgotten. The book moves from point of view to point of view with each chapter, a style Perrotta has used before, but which here fragments rather than complements the narrative ... One gets the sense that Perrotta has been out-Perrotta-ed by the world. The subjects he tackles here—social justice causes and the feeling of alienation that comes from social media, smartphones, and internet porn—seem so completely up his alley that if he hadn’t written a book about them, society should’ve commissioned one. However, real life has surpassed his imagination and sympathetic cynicism. By now there’s no way to exaggerate these things, which means he’s unable to satirize them ... Perrotta still writes with an undeniable snap, and character details will frequently hit the bull’s-eye ... Perrotta admirers will admire much of Mrs. Fletcher, though they may mourn the better version that’s visible in the margins.
Perrotta draws heavily from the news of the day, including such hot-button issues as body shaming, consent and hook-up culture; transgender identity, entitlement and bullying. His assault on political correctness is scathing and relentless, a running theme throughout the book ... But Brendan’s bro-dude-frat boy persona is so over the top that his growing self-awareness seems, at times, less convincing. As the book’s title suggests, however, Eve is the star of this show. Her inner monologue is the very meaning of vacillation with all its droll and dire missteps. Her shenanigans make for a rich stew of desire and conflict, and their inevitable consequences.
As is often the case with Perrotta’s fiction, it takes a while to warm up to his protagonists, who make their first appearances while engaged in off-putting, though wincingly credible, behavior ... Perrotta’s eye for contemporary mores and social details remains razor-sharp; his portraits of the substantial supporting cast are equally keen and tempered with compassion. There are no bad guys here, just fallible human beings trying to grab some happiness. The deliberately inconclusive conclusion points Eve and Brendan toward that goal but doesn’t promise they’ll get there. More spot-on satire with heart and soul from a uniquely gifted writer.
Perrotta covers the gamut of sexual issues in this made-for-TV comedy of errors: Brendan’s former girlfriend rebels against being a sexual doormat; Brendan’s roommate vows to stop sexually demeaning girls. Every character here exists in a state of sexual arousal, and the happy ending finds each of them in a satisfying relationship.