Sleeping With Ward Cleaver

by Jenny Gardiner

Well, here’s a fun book.  The protagonist spends a lot of time seeing her husband as a caricature, like the Beaver’s dad in the 1960s sitcom.  Do you remember the Cleavers?  June Cleaver wore “housedresses” all the time, and heels, and her hair was perfectly curled.  Wally was the officious older brother, and the younger son was called Beaver Cleaver, completely unironically.  This was when irony was limited to beatniks, I think.

Anyway, Ward Cleaver was the uxorious dispenser of fatherly advice, with a pipe in hand, pleated pants, a briefcase and an unspecified job.  He was imperturbable, and, according to Claire, the first-person narrator of this book, totally unsexy.

Jack and Claire were not always such an unsexy pair.  Claire spends time recalling the Jack she once knew, but she also recalls the Claire she once was.  A houseful of kids, wrangling all sorts of details, a swearing parrot, multiple other pets and a job later, she’s hardly feeling sexy, and she’s happy to blame Jack.

But maybe Jack is to blame. Or maybe he’s not.  Regardless, Jenny Gardiner’s take on an all-too-common situation is a unique and entertaining one.  The process that Claire goes through in trying to make this situation better has a lot of funny moments, because Claire is a woman with a strong personality.  She’s just had to turn her energies away from her desires and interests for a long, long time.

The story is funny and the characters ring true enough to not only keep your interest but also your desire to see them get out of this intact.  I had a good time reading this book and I’m looking for more from Jenny Gardiner.

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