Monday, February 9, 2015

Book Review: "Plus One" by Christopher Noxon

Alex Sherman-Zicklin, a mid-level marketing executive, has always been tremendously supportive of his writer wife, Figgy, as she works on script idea after script idea, pilot after pilot. Something's bound to work out eventually, isn't it?

But when Figgy's 14th pilot, Tricks, actually gets picked up by a cable network, they're both unprepared for how their lives will change. Despite challenges with its star, Tricks becomes a critical and commercial success, and wins the Best Comedy Series Emmy in its first year. Figgy is finally able to reap the benefits of her success, putting them in a better financial place, but exponentially increasing the pressure on her to sustain the show's momentum.

Given their newfound financial freedom, Alex agrees to quit his job and focus on managing their lives full-time, including caring for the couple's two young children. Alex sees this as an opportunity to do more cooking (he's quite the foodie), finding their new house and supervising the renovations, and perhaps even working on the memoir he's always been thinking about. It's not long before he finds himself drawn into the world of Plus Ones, the men whose wives are more successful and influential than they are. It's fun at first, but that sort of lifestyle starts to take its toll.

"Women married to successful men have a place. But guys in the same position? No one knows what to do with them. He could hear the interior dialogue: boy scored; must be hard on him; must make up for it in other ways."

Christopher Noxon's Plus One is an amusing twist on the more familiar scenario of the wife who finds herself adrift when her husband becomes a huge success. Alex not only must struggle with the mundane—making sure the kids get their homework done, trying to figure out his relationship with his children, and making sure the contractors don't rip him off—to more extreme feelings of inadequacy, jealousy of Figgy's long hours with her handsome coworkers, and wondering what's next for him professionally.

This was a fun book, one which touched on many of the stereotypical behaviors and activities you'd expect of the rich and famous. It's an interesting look at a man adrift, trying desperately to regain a little of his mojo, but also regain the attention and respect of his wife. I can't identify with many of Alex's struggles but I think many people struggle with some of the same issues he is, regardless of how much money their spouse or partner makes.

While I didn't think this was as laugh-out-loud as some reviewers have said, I enjoyed it. It's a light, quick read, and probably would make a fun movie.

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