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Of Men and Their Mothers Paperback – April 21, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Medwed (How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life) humorously if cursorily delves into a turbulent mother-in-law and daughter-in-law dynamic. Mrs. Pollock has always disdained Maisie, who was never good enough for her son, Rex, heir to the Pollock chicken pot pie fortune. But the two women's conflicts persist even after Rex and Maisie's divorce, as they clash over the raising of Maisie's teenage son, Tommy, who has himself acquired a less-than-ideal girlfriend. Meanwhile, Maisie's trying hard to get her organizing business, Factotum Inc., off the ground in the Boston area while employing another single mom locked in a custody battle with—you guessed it—her own ex-mother-in-law. Medwed adopts a breezy tone, substituting zingy one-liners (you can't pick battles with a battle-ax) for genuine reflection. A reader would need her own organizing service to keep track of Factotum's numerous eccentric clients, whose foibles are neither adequately developed nor sufficiently mined for comic potential. A frivolous, at times frantic, tone prevails, right down to the resolution of the novel's conflicts, which turn into happy endings faster than it takes to microwave a frozen pot pie. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Maisie has had it up to here with mothers, even if she is one. Specifically, it is her ex-mother-in-law who drives her berserk. Mother Pollock, doting parent or ranging lunatic—probably both—is controlling, manipulative, and overly possessive of her son (and grandson). Blame it on the pot pies—she sits on top of the Pollock family poultry fortune—and an unyielding sense of competition with other women. But Maisie is over it; in fact, she is happy with her life. Raising 16-year-old Tommy, she even intends to be gracious to his pierced, ragged girlfriend. Her business, Factotum Inc., keeps Maisie busy, and her clients provide amusing side characters, most notably Professor Seamus O’Toole, renowned expert on James Joyce at nearby Harvard. Always trying to save the world, Maisie hires Darlene, a young mother, out of pity but soon gets sucked into Darlene’s child-custody battle, against—who else?—a trashy mother-in-law. This zany, highly comical page-turner feels churned out at times, but Medwed, author of How Elizabeth Browning Saved My Life (2006), is a seasoned and lively storyteller. --Emily Cook --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 281 pages
  • Publisher: Avon; Reprint edition (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060831227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060831226
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,936,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A reader on April 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It always makes me nervous to read a new novel by a writer whose books I already know and like. What if the new one isn't as good? But it's so wonderful when the book IS as good as the others -- and this one is. It's about a woman named Maisie Pollock and her relationships with a piggish overbearing (but believable) ex-mother-in-law, her son's rude waifish girlfriend, a young mother embroiled in a custody battle with HER horrible mother-in-law, and a new man who may or may not be overly tied to his dead mother's apron strings. The writing is somehow both cozy and sharp. It's very funny -- the kind of comedy that looks easy but must take incredible skill to write, and that makes you wince and laugh at the same time. It's about big things -- anxiety, resentment, fear, romantic attraction -- and the nutty small ways we try to hide our feelings, or channel them into socially "correct" behavior. The biggest thing of all is motherhood, and the perennial question about when do you speak up and when do you keep your mouth shut. As with all of her earlier books, reading this gave me a huge amount of pleasure and a lot to think about.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Julie W. Johnson on May 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Amid all the horrors and stresses of contemporary life, how wonderful to find a writer whose grasp of those tensions is pointed and profound, but who is able to render up her perceptions in such a benign and funny way. I have read all five of Mameve Medwed's novels, and each one is a skillfully composed comic delight. Of Men and Their Mothers is full of vivid, even Dickensian characters, and its observations about life in Cambridge, Somerville, and present-day America are richly rewarding. Simultaneously amusing and illuminating, the novel will whet your appetite for Medwed's earlier four books. Let's hope there is soon a sixth novel as well.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on August 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After seeing several excellent reviews I had high expectations of this book. It's a "bit instant soup" for my likes... main character struggles finally finds love and all is perfect in the end. Not enough substance for me to find interesting.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gracie on January 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
After reading Medwed's "End of an Error," I had high hopes for this book. However, "Of Men and Their Mothers" was much more lightweight and formulaic than EoaE.

OMaTM wasn't a bad read. But in the words of Gertrude Stein, there just wasn't much "there" there. Mother/son relationships would seem to provide grist for more than superficial exploration. Oh and I was left wondering why Medwed seemingly is fixated on overbearing grandmothers and chickens (they're prominently featured in both books).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ravenous Reader on September 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of Mameve Medwed and this particular novel does not disappoint. Her writing is sharp and witty and she keeps the story moving along nicely. Some reviewers have commented that the ending is too neat, but I think it's just perfect...enough to keep you thinking about the characters and their stories long after you've finished the last page.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Prudence M. Thorner on August 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
Mameve Medwed's article about growing her life up poor in a family that gives itself airs and pretends to be old-rich captured my attention in last week's New York Times titled "Candelabra and Chipped Paint" (August 4, 2011). I liked her acerbic style and her wit. Her comedic voice is astute.

I found Of Men and Their Mothers full of telling observations along the lines of the title, told with a humorous eye, and good character development. It's a little bit "happily ever after" in the way she handles the wrap up, but now and then that has a charm and warmth of its own. I recommend it as a satisfying read when you have had enough of sturm and drang, despair and unhappy endings.
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By marie/w on April 19, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book both touching and quite funny. Most people have encountered at least one of these characters and/or circumstances that life throws our way from time to time and can identify with the struggle to deal with them in our own way. Sometimes we fail, but other times we make some fairly good lemonade out of those lemons.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really struggled with the strident tenor of Maisie to the extent that I stopped reading the book after a couple of chapters and went off to read something else. However, something tugged me back and I'm glad it did. I came to enjoy the tension and the ultimate eaking out of goodness in unexpected places.
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