I love Bethenny Frankel! But unfortunately, having said that, I am here to tell you that this book is not great. It is too bad, really, because there is a lot of material here that could make for a worthwhile read, but it is all told and not shown. It is all scattered by this weird formatting of having to formulate self-help rules. O for the chance to get together with Bethenny and re-write this book! So many stories with so much potential. And I would promise not to be afraid of her and to be a tough editor! You hear me, Bethenny? PM me if you have another book in the pipeline.
So, there is this thing that a lot of married couples, smug or not, do, that I find kind of disingenuous, and I am under the impression that it is the premise of this book. The male version of it goes something like this [real story from a friend’s parents]: “When I saw her, I knew she was the one, but I lived in New Jersey and she lived in Manhattan. I was so poor that I could only afford to go into Manhattan and take her out for a nice dinner about once a month, so I would save and save, and then drive in to the city, pick her up at her doorstep, buy her dinner, and then drop her off on her doorstep again. That is how you know a man respects and loves you.”
The female version of it goes something like this [from the book p. 109-10]:
“Our meeting wasn’t fairy-tale. It was ultimately modern, just like us. It was us
. I wouldn’t trade it for ten Prince Charmings on ten white horses.
“As people often say when they tell the story of meeting the right one, I wasn’t looking for a man. That night, I was running around with a group of friends from out of town going from one event to another. One of our stops was at a nightclub, and when we tried to go inside, they said I could go in, but my friends couldn’t – I guess they looked like they weren’t from New York. I was furious. I knew the owner of this club, so I decided to call him and complain. He told us to come back, and that we could all go in. . . .
“This confrontation had fueled the attitude I already had – I walked into that nightclub as an independent woman who frankly didn’t give a damn, and it showed.
“And there he was, my beautiful-inside-and-out future husband, working his magic. I was posing for a photo, smiling when the cameras were up and going back to my usual smug face when they were down. He took one look at me and said, ‘Are you ready to get that stick out of your ass now?’ . . .
“He was actually working some other girl that night, and he did go on a date with her after we first met. I went on a few dates with other guys after that night, too. But somehow, in retrospect, it was always all about the two of us, more than either of us realized when we danced that night . . . .”
So, I am not against this type of story as a rule, but I feel that these are the two stories I hear over and over from a man or a woman selling romance to me. And, frankly, I find them to be weird and off-putting. The male version sounds to me like, “She had boobs; I spent money; *chestpound.*” The female versions sounds to me like, “Daddy hits mommy because he loves her, and mommy was a very bad girl.” So, that is obviously not actually what is going on for the teller in either of these stories, but there is something fundamental about them that I do not find romantic. I do not understand why a man would think it is romantic to put such a high price on a date that he never actually gets to talk to the girl he thinks he likes. I do not understand why we women think a dude being an asshole means he thinks we are special. Actually, no, that is a lie. I understand why we all think those things
, but I think if we give it two seconds’ consideration, we do not think those things anymore.
The thing I think people are really trying to convey in these stories is the sense of their own coolness: the man who is a hard worker and a high roller; and the woman who is not perfect, but still has people. And, I think that is totally valid and the reason we love the stories. It is the reason I would sit at the feet of any couple, or any single, telling a story about some kind of triumph: because it is hopeful, and hope is wonderful. But the male version still sounds to me like he is talking about an iPad he camped out for at BestBuy on Black Friday. And the female version sounds like love = humiliation for women. So, actually, both of them kind of sound like that, which is why it is depressing to hear people’s “love” stories. I would rather hear about what the man did if he ever realized the woman wasn’t an iPad, and I would rather hear a woman tell about someone who openly admired her as a human.
Anyway, the book is mostly about how Bethenny has been alone and a failure for a lot of her life, but now she has it all because she stopped believing that she was a bad person. In a lot of ways I like that. I’ve seen other people complain that her advice isn’t valid because she doesn’t have a very accurate concept of what it means to be poor. On the one hand, I think that is a legitimate complaint, but on the other hand, I don’t really feel that people have issues with money based on an accurate scale of poverty to wealth. Rich people feel poor all the time and I don’t think we have no right to discuss it just because our concept of wealth is inaccurate.
Basically, I don’t think that people fail or win based on their positive or negative thinking. That makes no sense. But, I do think that people self-sabotage and that unless self-criticism is constructive, it is probably destructive. I think that a lot of women opt out of life because we think badly of ourselves, so I like that Bethenny speaks against that. I think she speaks as someone who started with a really damaged self-image and who has been slowly patching and repairing that self-image into something productive and interesting and even beautiful. In that way, I think her message is effective and positive.
Just, not in this book.
The publisher provided me this copy of the book, but not in exchange for any goods or services.