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Summary

Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020

Finally free from his nightmare of a marriage, Toby Fleishman is ready for a life of Tinder dating and weekend-only parental duties. But as he optimistically looks to a future of few responsibilities, his life turns upside down as his ex-wife Rachel suddenly disappears.

While Toby tries to find out what happened - juggling work, his kids and his new, app-assisted sexual popularity - his tidy narrative of a spurned husband is his sole consolation. But if he ever wants to really understand where Rachel went and what really happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider that he might not have seen it all that clearly in the first place....

A blistering satirical novel about marriage, divorce and modern relationships, by one of the most exciting new voices in American fiction.

©2019 Taffy Brodesser-Akner (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Shrewdly observed, brimming with wisdom and utterly of this moment...Taffy Brodesser-Akner's debut is that rare and delicious treat: a page turner with heft." (Maria Semple)

"A marvel, full of shrewd observations, barbed wit, and deep insight...a remarkable debut novel from one of the most distinctive writers around." (Tom Perrotta)

What listeners say about Fleishman Is in Trouble

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing but maybe just too American

I wanted to love this but as a British, married, working woman I just couldn’t identify with any of the characters. This meant that ultimately I didn’t care about any of them, which meant I didn’t care what happened in the end.

3 people found this helpful

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Unconvincing uninteresting irritating

Far too much minute analysis of ultimately uninteresting people - that might be fine if it probed the depths of ‘normal’ lives but the focus of attention was on unconvincing caricatures. I happened to find the reader’s voice as irritating as the narrator’s

3 people found this helpful

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Is this book secretly satire?

Is this book secret satire? I listened to the audiobook but I’m hoping the physical book had eye roll and tongue out emojis. It took a lot of effort to finish this book. Toby is not likeable at all. I can find no redeeming features. They are so entitled, needy, and resentful about having to look after their children when they want to go and boink a woman they met online. They do a tiny amount of parenting and act like they are the best parent in the land. Rachel is just as bad as Toby but I feel like the reader is supposed to sympathise with Toby which is hard to do. Toby wakes up to find that his children have been dropped off by his ex-wife who later drops off the radar. He seems more annoyed at being unable to meet women from his dating app than the fact that his children are being passed around and their mother has gone missing. Toby waits until over half way through the book to contact a lawyer regarding their missing ex-wife. Toby is obsessed with their dating app which is fair enough but oh does he go on about it. And he receives multiple pictures from women that he views in front of his kids and friends. He seems to think every woman who shows him kindness is flirting with him. To be honest, he just seemed like a horny teenager. The book really wants us to know that it’s set in modern times with a multitude of references to current things (and people); dating apps, instagrams, vaping, Ariana Grande etc. I’m not a fan of the third party narration. The book is narrated by Toby’s friend but the book will occasionally dip into the narrator’s life which has no real bearing on the story. Oh and there’s a very graphic description of Rachel being induced which I could have gone through my life without reading. If this wasn’t my book club book, I’d have lemoned it!

3 people found this helpful

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Doesn’t hit the mark

Taffy B-A is undoubtedly a fabulous writer with a rare gift for sharp dialogue and witty observation. Her prose zips along effortlessly. I was loving every word until somewhere beyond the half-way point, I began to loathe the whole thing. It took all my willpower to stock with it till the end. The problems are two-fold. The characters are not merely unlikeable, they become profoundly boring. Secondly, there isn’t really a plot. The book is too long to get away with either of those flaws.

2 people found this helpful

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Groan level indulgence interspersed with some insights.

Having chosen to endure the ‘wokeness’ of this entire novel, I can only report that I made it to the end. Bias declaration. I am old. This much lack of self knowledge makes every character dull and utterly unsympathetic. Even the children’s experiences are dull and “I’ve heard it all before. So. Who cares? Cultural bias declaration. I am not NY American. The upward inflection in every sentence was almost unbearable-perhaps it’s authentic but it is jarring. On top of that, there was little or no differentiation in the voices used for each character leading to confusion so often that it made me not care-again.

4 people found this helpful

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Conflicting

Toby Fleishman annoyed me, his examination of himself and his POV of the women who suddenly became available to him. His lack of empathy for his wife. That it was mainly narrated from Elizabeth's perspective somewhat moderated this for me. But then, I found all the characters too self absorbed and unsympathetic......

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Whiny and self indulgent

Really struggled with this book whose characters appeared irritating and all had entitlement issues. Perseverance in the hope that the story would become interesting or engaging never happened.

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Brilliant

This is her first book. It is just brilliant and I hope she writes another one soon. I really loved it. Thank you so much. Brilliant book with a brilliant ending.

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So much angst

Once you get past the repetitive body parts and constant sexual encounters it’s actually a great story albeit a bit long winded especially his swiping right (in more ways than you can imagine)

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  • Ru
  • 21-06-20

loved the book tricky to follow narrative!

Fantastic book but really tricky to follow as single female narrator switches between first person and telling story of other characters. Just need to add chapter breaks so its clear when it changes!

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  • Amanda
  • 29-12-19

Diabolical and tedious beyond belief

This book came highly recommended by a friend but I’m thinking she doesn’t actually like or know me to suggest it! The narrator is annoying and the story just goes around and around in circles. I did hang in there to the end but hopefully can save you the effort. Don’t waste a credit on it.

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  • Neylan Muhsinoglu
  • 21-08-19

Conclusion killed it for me..

Nevermind I had to endure the extremely boring mind of Toby for the first 75% of the book, just when I thought ”ahaa this is the twist I have been expecting, so this is Rachel’s point of view and we are getting somewhere”, I was hit by the most banal “so why did the hell did I spent so many hours on this book” conclusion. Such a waste of my time..

1 person found this helpful