Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for the finished copy of Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie! I received a free copy (and a super cute press kit) in exchange for an honest review!
My first impression was that the book isn’t my typical genre at all, but it moved along quickly, held my attention, made me laugh, and I felt like it accomplished it’s goal as a satire to shed some ridiculous light on Hollywood’s … ridiculousness. A quick Google search told me that Levangie was actually married to a big producer (of A Beautiful Mind) and wrote some successful screenplays herself, so I had to wonder….is any of this insider knowledge? I bet some of it actually happened in real life and I played a little ‘wonder if it actually happened’ game while reading!
Alright let’s talk about the book: Here is the description from GoodReads:
When he changes the locks, she changes the rules.
Agnes Murphy Nash is the perfect Hollywood wife – she has the right friends, the right clothes, and even a side career of her own as a writer. Her husband Trevor is a bigshot producer, and from the outside it looks like they’re living a picture-perfect celebrity life, complete with tennis tournaments and lavish parties.
But the job description of a Hollywood wife doesn’t cover divorce, which is the way Agnes’ life is headed after she comes home one day to find her credit cards cancelled and the security passwords to get into her enormous LA home changed. Oh, and there’s a guy there whose job it is to tase her if she tries to enter…which she does. Needless to say, Agnes’ husband is dead set on making sure she loses big time, but Agnes isn’t the type to just lie down and take it. In a world of fremenies and hot nannies, personal psychics and “skinny” jello shots, Agnes may be losing her husband, but could that mean getting her own life back?
Been There, Married That is a drop-dead hilarious battle of wills that will make you laugh out loud, cringe, and keep turning the pages to see what crazy disaster will happen to Agnes next…and how she’ll rise from the ashes
The book was hilarious at times. Agnes and her friends and their lifestyles in general were so over-the-top and insane that it’s not something a normal, not insanely rich person could ever relate to. Every already ridiculous outing whether it be lunch, book club, party, or divorce court, is already crazy, and Levangie adds an extra layer of “oh my god that can’t be real” on top of everything. That led me to believe that the entire book is a satire, which essentially makes fun of a people or a lifestyle. Agnes goes through a messy divorce with a super organized man, who goes crazy if his notepad is moved two inches to the right on the counter. He draws battle lines in the house and has Agnes tased on the front lawn! It was just funny!
Levangie mentions (and makes of) a lot of Hollywood trends that are leaking into regular society as well. Some that I noticed are excessive use of therapists and personal assistants, weird Instagram and social media themes, dieting trends, rehab stints, food frenzies, and this great bit about having a baby’s gender reveal party when they are 40! Hello people this is actually happening in “normal people” society as well! Pop culture is crazy and I think it’s a little important to be aware of what messages are being sent down. General extravagance, life coaches, and even pyramid scheme jewelry sales are a few other topics that are less serious and had me laughing throughout the pages.
The custody battle almost made me feel bad for their daughter, but Trevor Nash really didn’t need to have anything to do with a child, he just wanted to WIN the divorce. Ok, I guess I felt bad for the kid even though she had everything she could possibly want, eventually she realized that she needed her mom. Then the courtroom custody portion was sad, it seemed to be the one reminder in the book that the main character was….. a human. Agnes’ sister was a trip as well and so were the trio of South American workers in the house, it was hard to believe that any work actually got done. One other great character is Agnes’ dad, he is clueless but loves her endlessly, and makes a few funny cameos.
One thing that I didn’t like was how Levangie used a lot of abbreviations and different slang terms used for places, things, and ideas, and there is no way that the average reader is going to know what any of it means. It doesn’t affect the story at all but I feel like the language could have been less ‘insider-y’ at times. The narrative was all over the place too at times, which kind of makes sense for the way the main character’s brain worked. The story did streamline more in the second half of the book but it was a bit hard to read at first.
Overall this is really a pretty good read. It is a hard one at times but I recommend viewing it as a satire, a joke, and reading the underlying themes however you will. Was it insider? Did it happen or was it just Levangie having a good laugh at pop culture? The book released in early February so check it out if it sounds like something you’d enjoy! Thank you again to St Martin’s Press for the review copy! All opinions are my own.