Canada’s Answer To Bridget Jones’s Diary

If you can get past the seemingly unhappy subject matter and appreciate the great writing, then Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey is a wonderful read. You will appreciate it even more if you have ever been through a painful divorce because that is what this fictional, humorous book is about. The bonus is the author is Canadian and readers will relate to the Toronto locations mentioned in her book.

Further confirmation of Heisey’s skill includes writing credits for The New Yorker, the New York Times, Vogue (UK), Elle, The Guardian (UK), Glamour,  and New York Magazine. She has also written for Schitt’s Creek and two of my TV favourite shows, Workin’ Moms, and Baroness von Sketch Show.

The main character and narrator Maggie is a red-headed twenty-nine-year-old graduate student at a Toronto university. She has recently separated from her husband Jon because she was not a nice person to be married to. Their ten-year relationship had evolved naturally into marriage which lasted a mere two years before they could no longer tolerate the mutual discord. Jon took custody of their cat Janet, which adds to Maggie’s feelings of abandonment.

The reader will have a tendancy to sympathize with Maggie’s ex because despite her humorous commentary, she has no filter. Her comments are frequently hurtful. When she can no longer afford their spartan one-bedroom apartment on her own, she moves into a basement studio suite in the home of her boss at the university. The outcome is predictable.

Separating from the main love of your life is difficult at any time but particularly so when all your friends are showing off engagement rings, getting married in beautiful “love you forever” ceremonies, and having babies. While this seems like an unlikely story for baby boomers, I remember those twenty-something days so clearly.

Maggie endures the dating rites of passage with the app-based dating cycle—meet, two dates, sex, delay third date, reschedule, cancel, and, finally, ghost. Her disillusionment with dating has her fantasizing about getting back together with her ex—meeting him after their separation looking particularly thin, delicious, confident and beautiful. We all have those fantasies and can certainly relate.

Really good author Monica Heisey.

She describes getting divorced as like getting stuck in a blouse in Zara: “I was struggling, and it was clearly the wrong fit, but maybe it would be more embarrassing to try to take it off, to come out of the dressing room and have to admit, I tried, but I couldn’t make it work.” The author walks us through the daily life and lifestyle of a young woman boomers have gladly left behind.

Getting divorced is not unlike becoming widowed, but without the bonus of a life insurance payout. For most people, it is painful and there are stages of emotions to be worked through. Regardless of whether you have been divorced or widowed, this is a worthwhile summer read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

If Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey is not available at your local library or bookstore, click on this link to order directly from Amazon.

Disclosure: I may receive a teeny, tiny commission. Thank you.

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