Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow

Sally Koslow's The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is not your garden-variety chick lit. It's hard to put into words how much I loved this book. Me, with my fears of death, actually thought a book dealing primarily with death was fun. Imagine that!

Koslow tells the story of Molly Divine Marx, the 35-year-old wife of a philandering plastic surgeon, Barry Marx; the mother of 4-year-old Annabel; twin sister of the slightly unhinged Lucy; and daughter-in-law of the snooty, everything-is-about-appearances Kitty. Molly somehow died along the Hudson River during a late winter bike ride and finds herself in the "Duration" (or heaven or the hereafter or whatever you want to call it). She is able to watch over the people she left behind, and a newly discovered "bullsh*t detector" makes her observations both sad and highly entertaining.

The story is told from Molly's point of view in both the present and the past. She follows Annabel as she tries to make sense of her mother's absence, Lucy as she comes to terms with losing the sister whom she loved but didn't always show it, and Barry as he tries to juggle the circumstances surrounding Molly's death and the overbearing woman who is trying to take Molly's place. Brie, the best friend simultaneously dealing with grief and confusion about her sexuality; Luke Delaney, the co-worker who meant more to Molly than anyone knew; and Hiawatha Hicks, the detective assigned to Molly's case also are shown in great detail. Part of the charm of The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is the characters. Although there are numerous supporting characters, they all are unique and interesting, and not once did I find myself bored or unable to keep track of the various players.

But Molly steals the show. It's hard not to fall in love with Molly, even as she lays out all her faults, regrets, and frustrations about the things she wished she'd done or didn't do. She relieves her past to figure out how she ended up dead well before her time. What I liked best about Molly was that she wasn't perfect, and everyone can identify with her in that respect.

And Koslow's writing style grabbed me from the first page and took me on an emotional ride. I really liked that Molly was sarcastic and bitter in some parts, then nostalgic and sentimental in others.

Conventional wisdom suggests that infidelity is about punishing the husband or the wife. I beg to differ, and always did, starting that night. It's too late now to sort this out with Dr. Stafford, my marriage counselor. More's the pity, since last month our health insurance certified Barry and me for ten more sessions. In our therapy, which we went to for several months, I always claimed that I never got involved with another man to get back at him. Well, it's past my dying day, and that's my story and I'm sticking with it. Luke was never, ever the not-Barry. He was always Luke, with his own magnetic field. I can't explain why I was drawn to Luke Delaney. Why does someone love the color orange or a Mozart sonata? I just was. (page 71 in the Advanced Reader's Edition)
The Late, Lamented Molly Marx had me up late, reading furiously to uncover the truth about Molly's death and her numerous, complicated relationships. The book has a light, fun aspect to it, but a serious, heavy tone as well. It really makes you think about how you're living your life right now. If today was your last day, what would you do or say? What would you regret doing or not doing? How do you want to be remembered? The last several pages made me cry, which is not something I wanted to do while on the bus. I thought I would enjoy The Late, Lamented Molly Marx after having read a few pages, but I never expected it to affect me so much.

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of The Late, Lamented Molly Marx from the author and Random House for review purposes.

20 comments:

lilly said...

I think the best books are the ones that come at you unexpectedly. I am not a chick lit fan but this book seems like so much more than that and worthy of reading.

Julie P. said...

I am so glad that you enjoyed this book so much! I actually remember where I was when I read it -- on the bus up to New York for BEA!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Wow, this sounds really good! Much better than I would have thought! Thanks for the review!

Missy said...

AWESOME review!! I loved this book as well, and your review was just perfect! :)

Iliana said...

Great review, Anna! I like the sound of this book and will have to add it to my growing list!

Nise' said...

Great review. As someone who has experienced unexpected loss, I try to make it a point to not leave things unsaid.

Darla D said...

This isn't the usual kind of book I'd tend to pick up, but it sounds fascinating! I'll add it to my list. Nice review. :-)

Sandy Nawrot said...

This sounds amazing like "The Problem with Murmur Lee" by my favorite author Connie May Fowler. Flashbacks to her life, newly found insight after death, the mystery of how she died, all with the humor to keep it from getting too deep. If this book is half as good as Murmur Lee, I know I would love it!

Julie said...

I liked it but I didn't love it. I didn't really like the ending. I won't spoil it for readers. I liked the mystery of what happened to Molly though. I also liked Molly.

bermudaonion said...

The book sounds so good and I love the cover!

Staci said...

This sounds like a truly good book. Enjoyed your thoughts on this one...I'll have to keep it in mind for a future read!

Blodeuedd said...

I do love a book that can keep you up late. Great review, I will keep my eye out for this one

Serena said...

I have not read this book, but it sounds like something I should read...if it kept you up late reading.

Luanne said...

I've heard nothing but great reviews - must put on list....

Yvonne said...

This sounds really good!

Tara said...

Great review! I'll be looking out for this one.

carolsnotebook said...

Sounds like a good book, but I'm going to have to pass on this one. I try to not read books that are goig to make me cry. I know that rules out a lot of wonderful ones.

Belle said...

This sounds really good - what an interesting concept! And I love the part you quoted. It sounds like a great read.

S. Krishna said...

I really, really enjoyed this one. It's so well-written and unique!

Anna said...

~lilly: It definitely is so much more than the usual chick lit book. I hope you give it a chance.

~Julie P.: I usually can remember where I was when I read a certain book. For me, the BEA trip was Jill Mansell Miranda's Big Mistake.

~rhapsodyinbooks: It was much better than I thought it would be, too. It was a pleasant surprise.

~Missy: Thanks so much!

~Iliana: I hope you get to read it at some point. I think you'll like it.

~Nise': That's a very good policy. I've learned the hard way myself.

~Darla: Thanks! Glad I made you think about reading something different.

~Sandy: I'm really going to have to read something by Connie May Fowler. You've made me so curious about her books.

~Julie: I didn't mind the ending really. Sorry that part was a bit disappointing for you.

~bermudaonion: I think you'd really like this one.

~Staci: I hope you give it a shot. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

~Blodeuedd: I tend to fall asleep when I read at night, so if a book keeps me up late, you can be sure it's good. ;)

~Serena: You certainly can borrow my copy when you're ready.

~Luanne: Hope you get a chance to read it!

~Yvonne: Hope you give it a shot.

~Tara: Thanks!

~carolsnotebook: A lot of my all-time favorite reads made me cry. I know tear-jerkers aren't for everyone though. If it helps, I only shed a tear at the end. The rest of the book was tear-free.

~Belle: It was different, and it worked.

~S. Krishna: I completely agree!