"Adams is that rare writer who sends out every laugh with a sting in its tail. Most novels fade from the memory. This one sticks." - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"Adams writes with cinematic flair, great visuals, and dialogue that zings...the characters are good company and the story engaging...This Playdate makes learning fun." - Chronogram Magazine
"This gimlet-eyed take on modern marriage lets no one off the hook...the illusions they live by are firmly - and often hilariously - skewered." - Parade Magazine
One of O Magazine's "10 Titles to Pick Up Now," January 2011. - O Magazine
"...wickedly witty... a hit novel." - The Village Voice
"a fun, dishy book about the struggles of modern parenthood." -iVillage
Pity the 21st-century househusband. Although former weatherman Lance Ramsay enjoys staying at home in the San Diego suburb of Encinitas, his 10-year-old daughter Belle's classmates consider him a loser, and his wife, Darlene, is so busy opening a new "Darlene's Diner," the franchise she started eight years ago in Barstow, Calif., that lovemaking has become perfunctory. Lance longs for another child and wishes his wife were more sensitive to Belle, but he finds plenty of distractions: having lots of tantric sex with Wren, the wife of Darlene's business partner, and dodging the amorous overtures of Wren's babysitter. Wren's sister, Robin, starts writing a book about househusbands, which gives a macho neighbor a chance to express his contempt for housebound men. Over the course of a few busy days leading up to the new diner's opening, in which everyone is sleeping with everyone, a brush fire threatens the region, which leads to the inevitable question: will the Ramsays' marriage go up in flames? US Weekly film critic Adams wittily skewers his shallow characters, resulting in a novel that's equal parts cleverness and tedium. (Jan.)
As the Santa Ana winds fan the flames of brush fires across Southern California, two stay-at-home parents and their working spouses play with fire of their own making. Lance is a former surfer and television weatherman-turned-doting father who wants a second baby, but Darlene, his striving wife, is more focused on future franchise opportunities with her restaurant start-up than scheduling sex for conception. Instead, Lance finds comfort and connection with Wren, who introduces him to yoga and tantric sex. Wren is married to Alec, a confident, egotistical businessman who happens to be Darlene's business partner. It's a modern-day tinderbox that somehow fails to ignite. Lance's ten-year-old daughter, Bella, is unconvincingly precocious; Wren's son Sam is sweet but simple. One bright spot is Julia, Wren's snarky, know-it-all nanny whose lack of boundaries provides some zippy dialog. There are several obvious speeches about the validity of stay-at-home parenting and society's underappreciation for caregivers; worse, the plot is predictable. VERDICT Purchase this debut novel by US Weekly's film critic only if the publisher's marketing efforts spark local interest. A stronger and darker version of this tale is Tom Perotta's Little Children. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/10.]—Christine Perkins, Bellingham P.L., WA
With a wildfire approaching, marriages are already smoldering, in a brittle social comedy byUs Weekly's film critic.
Adams' debut, a slick portrait of middle-class California, explores privileged lives in which contentment is a rare commodity. The Ramsays' marriage is faltering as house-husband Lance pressures his driven entrepreneur wife Darlene for a second child. Darlene's pushy business partner Alec is married to yoga-obsessed Wren, who is having an intense affair with Lance, allowing her predatory babysitter Julia to neglect the children. Julia, however, has designs on Lance, while his daughter Belle sulks about the recent move away from her friends to this new coastal suburb of San Diego. Spanning six increasingly choking days as the Santa Ana winds blow the fire nearer, the story ranges across several characters' points-of-view without wholly making its own direction clear. Simultaneously sardonic and rambling, Adams' first novel is a round of coffee pick-ups, school runs and playdates (often a metaphor for extramarital sex) interleaved with debates about parenting and bread-winning. The story culminates in Belle's 11th birthday party, simultaneously the launch of Darlene's Diner. Although the fire threatens, it's really Adams' sudden shift of gear into feel-good anticlimax that unbalances the event.
A snappily told middle-class morality tale which, due to a meandering story line and unattractive characters, fails to catch fire.