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Trouble: A Novel [Hardcover]

Kate Christensen
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 16, 2009 0385527306 978-0385527309

A vibrant story of female friendship and midlife sexual awakening from the acclaimed author of The Great Man

Josie is a Manhattan psychotherapist living a comfortable life with her husband and daughter—until, while suddenly flirting with a man at a party, she is struck with the sudden realization that she must leave her passionless marriage. A thrillingly sordid encounter with a stranger she meets at a bar immediately follows. At the same time, her college friend Raquel, a Los Angeles rock star, is being pilloried in the press for sleeping with a much younger man who happens to have a pregnant girlfriend. This proves to be red meat to the gossip hounds of the Internet. The two friends escape to Mexico City for a Christmas holiday of retreat and rediscovery of their essential selves. Sex has gotten these two bright, complicated women into interesting trouble, and the story of their struggles to get out of that trouble is totally gripping at every turn.

A tragicomedy of marriage and friendship, Trouble is a funny, piercing, and moving examination of the battle between the need for connection and the quest for freedom that every modern woman must fight.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Christensen follows The Great Man with this slightly lesser work, a coming-of-middle-age novel that explores the sexual lives of three women in their 40s. Best friends since their college days, trust-funder Indrani, therapist Josie and L.A. rocker Raquel are like three very different but close sisters. After flirting with a man at a New York party, Josie realizes that she is sexually starving and decides to leave her husband, though Indrani thinks it's a terrible move. Meanwhile, on the left coast, the nearly washed-up ex-junkie Raquel becomes embroiled in a scandal when she's smeared as the other woman to a young actor with a pregnant girlfriend. Raquel hightails it to Mexico City and begs a less than-reluctant Josie to join her. From here the novel takes a predictable route as the women drink their way across the city, Raquel spirals further out of control, and Josie's inner vixen is awakened. The novel loses some of its mojo in the location change—Mexico City seems just out of focus—but the characters are marvelously realized, and when Christensen's on a roll, her wit is irresistible. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Josie Dorvillier, a Manhattan therapist, is trapped in a loveless marriage to an academic. When her best friend from college, a rock star whose best days are behind her, draws ridicule on a celebrity blog for her affair with a much younger television actor, the two friends decide to escape to Mexico City for an uncharacteristically debauched vacation of mescal, marijuana, and men. The subject matter teeters on the edge of tabloid, and the sex scenes with Latin lovers are sometimes just cheesy, but Christensen, a PEN/Faulkner Award winner, generally eschews sentimentality, spinning a stylish, even occasionally suspenseful story of middle-aged sexual awakening and female friendship. Of her troubled companion, Dorvillier muses, “Maybe she and I had failed each other by allowing each other the freedom to be ourselves, and maybe that was the inevitable consequence of true friendship.”

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (June 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385527306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385527309
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,372,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A therapist who needs professional help June 20, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'd read quite a few positive reviews for the books of Kate Christensen, so when I saw this book offered on Vine, I grabbed it anticipating a really good read. I was disappointed....

Now I generally really enjoy books about nasty people--especially if they get their comeuppance or if the story is slyly funny (thinking Money from Martin Amis). But Trouble is full of nasty people with swollen egos who never seem to 'get' it. The novel concerns three impossibly attractive and talented women who went to college together. Now in middle age, one is a professor, one is a therapist, and the other is a rock star.

The novel begins with the therapist at a party, flirting with some idiot when she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror and decides--right then and there--that her marriage is over. That night she goes off to a bar and picks up a complete stranger for some quick and dirty hanky panky. Then she goes home and tells her husband she wants a divorce.

The main character, Josie, is superficial, selfish, shallow and completely unbelieveable as a Manhattan therapist. Entirely lacking any self-reflection, she sails off to Mexico with her rock-star friend and embarks on a sexual odyssey. And there are pages of descriptions.

Apart from not being a bit interested in these characters, I found their self-love, their affluent self-indulgence and navel-gazing moments obnoxious. Josie is a character with a past and a present that don't add up, so she is a ridiculous character whose actions don't make sense. This novel is basically about people who are a waste of space, and it wouldn't be so bad if the novel didn't take itself so seriously. Given that the main character is supposed to have some sort of intellectual content, you'd expect some introspection.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not a must read June 24, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Okay ladies, I am going to be majorly honest here. I got this book because I saw it was about a women who has an extramarital affair. Considering some of my friends have done the same thing and given the thought has crossed my mind a few times when my husband managed to be a major putz (I have remained strong and faithful), I was curious to read a book that I might possibly relate to. Well I could relate to the main character in some ways but I felt the story line was a bit fluffy. It made me think of those reality shows about housewives. The main character suffers a mid-life crisis. She goes to Mexico to visit her famous singer friend who is hiding from a shameful act and paparazzi, and they proceed to stay drunk the whole time, woohoo, and she gets laid by some hot hispanic guy. Her famous friend is suicidal and I won't spoil it by telling what happens there. I found myself skipping pages because I just wasn't that interested and I don't think many of you will be either.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Terrific Christensen Novel June 1, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have been a fan of Kate Christensen's novels since the publication of In The Drink about ten years ago. In Trouble, Christensen takes a genre, in this instance the middle-aged chick lit, and completely turns the genre on its head, defying all expectations with terrific results, just as she did in In the Drink. Trouble opens at a Manhattan cocktail party with the narrator, Josie, a 45 year old married woman flirting with a younger man. She catches sight of herself in a mirror and suddenly realizes that she wants out of her marriage. You think you know where this is going, right? It's not going there. While Trouble certainly has its share of humor, it is of a more sardonic bent than would be expected of a novel with that set up. Trouble is a sharply written, smart work, an honest, frank exploration of women's lives. Josie leaves Manhattan for Mexico at the request of an old college friend trying to escape her own mistakes. There, Josie ruminates on her life, her marriage, her relationship with her daughter. There are no zippy endings here, where all is resolved neatly. Instead, Trouble reaches an honest resolution that is true to life and the messiness it can sometimes bring. Trouble is a terrific, enjoyable read, not light fiction, but smart fiction. Enjoy!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Christensen's novel is a cross between mid-life crisis and the excesses of Spring Break as two mid-forties college friends escape their problems at home for a Mexico retreat. Raquel Dominquez, an LA-based rock singer nearing her expiration date, has a new album coming out but is fleeing a scandal with a boyfriend half her age that sports a pregnant ex-girlfriend. Raquel wants to "get her head together" and spend some quality time with Josie, a Manhattan psychotherapist. For her part, Josie has just realized that her marriage is a shambles, hoping to begin her life again when she returns from their South-of-the-Border sojourn. A third friend, Indriani, a trust-fund single unable to sustain a committed relationship, remains on the sidelines in New York, vaguely judgmental of the behavior of her two best college friends.

What begins as an escape from responsibility ultimately yields tragic results as Raquel and Josie submerge themselves in the culture of their contemporaries in Mexico, a group of musicians, artists and social activists that consume massive amounts of alcohol during dusk `til dawn forays into the local night life. Once freed from their personal problems in LA and New York, Josie and Raquel dive into excess, embracing Scarlet O'Hara's mantra, "I'll think about it tomorrow." Unfortunately, tomorrow arrives with painful consequences.

Christensen is a fluid writer whose prose is compelling, if not her obstreperous characters. Given the outrageous actions of her protagonists, I find myself ambivalent, a voyeur watching a train wreck. I don't know these people, nor do I empathize with them, their casual physical encounters and extravagant tastes. Nor am I seduced by their tragedy: I still don't like them or sympathize with the plight of wither woman.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious.
This is a small story. A page or two worth of plot. The rest was one description after another of the most trivial details. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Nancy Dunlap
2.0 out of 5 stars Self-Indulgent Characters
This is a cliched story about a "cougar". Josie is in her mid-forties and a succesful psychotherapist. Read more
Published 2 months ago by SuzReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected and excellent
I had no idea that this book would be so mature and emotional. Excellent. All the characters are well crafted and the story well written.
Published 5 months ago by anon
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
You will not want this book to end. Examines all human relationships with raw vision and heart. A must read for wives, friends, lovers, mothers and daughters.
Published 8 months ago by Angela Arterberry
1.0 out of 5 stars "Trouble" is for the reader who gets sucked into this dreck
While I thought Christen's "The Great Man" wasn't a great book, it was certainly a good one, leading me to believe "Trouble" would be of similar quality. What a mistake! Read more
Published on September 15, 2011 by Michael Warren
5.0 out of 5 stars Juicy, compelling, and fiercely intelligent
Filled with hot sex, amazingly real characters, fantastic insights into the complexities of love, marriage, and friendship; vivid, fascinating travel scenes, passionate commentary... Read more
Published on August 6, 2011 by Joan S. Kurland
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good
"Trouble" was a book that I enjoyed but at the same time I wouldn't call it completely gripping. The ending wasn't, in my opinion, as solid as the rest of the story. Read more
Published on July 21, 2011 by Moderate Risk
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing.
I loved The Great Man and so did my book club. Trouble is very disappointing with a poorly conceived plot and ridiculous characters. Read more
Published on June 9, 2010 by Carol G. Sures
1.0 out of 5 stars Hated this book
This is one of the few books ever that I thought was so bad that I didn't bother to finish.
Published on January 24, 2010 by Jackie Vogt
3.0 out of 5 stars What trouble?
"Trouble" or "A Fatuous, Vacuous Relationship Guide for the Overly-Educated, the Rich, and the Over-the-Hill Celebrity," purports to explore how middle-aged lives can crumble and... Read more
Published on December 31, 2009 by J. Grattan
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