The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster( 4 out of 5)
Well, you know, Jen Lancaster is my first love. Along with Laurie Notaro(thanks to Kasey, for my discovery of her.). I don’t remember if Stacey was behind my discovering Jen Lancaster, or if it was Deb. I think it may have been Deb, actually. She is my first love of the come-back-from-being-kicked-down to be a supreme bitch goddess. And if you have read Bitter is the New Black and her accompanying volumes after that, you know that Jen is and can be- but not without reason. Everytime Jen comes out with a new book, I am always thrilled. This time was no different. She’s taken her life in a new direction- again. And that’s usually a cause for celebration.
This time, the celebration is somewhat short-lived. Jen has decided to tackle her home. In a big way. Inspired by Martha Stewart(on a daily basis, it seems), she begins to tackle all of those things in her house that annoy the piss out of her. The drawers full of junk. The gun cabinet full of odds and ends. The closet. Her garden. Her best stories, at least in my opinion, involve the parties. First, the Easter party is fantastic. I laughed so hard I almost pissed my pants. I will never think of Easter eggs in the same way again..and the fact that the ever-lovable Fletch(Jen’s husband, for those who aren’t familiar) was involved in that was great. Then the Halloween party! Classic. In between, you find out about how the Thundercats came to be(not at all what you’re thinking as you read that sentence), you get an update on the Lancaster menagerie, and you find out, sadly, that Maisy, Jen and Fletch’s 10-yr old pit bull, is very sick and fighting cancer. I have to tell you, that part of the book broke my fucking heart. And if it broke MY heart, and I’m just reading her stories, I can’t even imagine what Jen and Fletch went through. Yes, you will cry. Bring the tissues. The good stuff, not the cheap Aldi brand.
Jen’s also great with applying various writs of Martha to what she’s doing in the book, and I love that. I’m not a big Martha Stewart devotee, but I learned a lot about how she handles certain projects. As someone who’s upheaved the hell out of her own house in the past week, believe me, any advice is grand. You also get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth- Jen-style. When she’s busting her ass and sweating off a whole layer of skin in the Chicago sun trying to rehab her garden, you are a willing listener to a whole slew of profanity. No sugar coating here, and that’s precisely what I love. Snarky comments and all. When Jen has a medical crisis and she is being questioned by the radiologists and assorted medical personnel, she voices her thoughts out loud. Another great part of the book- not her suffering through a medical scare, that’s not cool—but the reactions, questions, and comments that she subjects the medical staff to while awaiting her decision(scared out of her mind), are great.
So what’s missing? Not sure, honestly. Something is missing. Not sure if it’s because Jen, when she’s pleased with herself and her sense of accomplishment in the household tasks she’s chosen to undertake, is so mellow. In fact, I think that’s it. She comes off as so mellow. There are moments in all of her other books of Mellow, but not to this extent. It almost feels like she’s maturing. MATURING is a scary word. Along with menopause and mildew, not my favorite words. She’s, as always, entertaining as hell and sarcastic as the Pope is Dutch, but something is missing here. That’s why only 4 out of 5.
Of course, that’s not to say I don’t love the hell out of the book. For I DO! I’m always glad to read of Fletch, who I admit I have a crush on(that’s another great chapter, her thoughts on Fletch’s “personal assistance skills” and “growing a beard.”(That’s fantastic. You almost want to send Fletch a grooming kit, such is the strength of her thoughts on that subject. Also- the pictures, as usual, are fucking hilarious.
Again, though- if you want to read a book of a self-assured, kick ass, sarcastic woman trying to be the queen of her casa and be a life-long believer and doer of the words of the indomitable Martha Stewart, this is the book. And yes, she did inspire me to get more shit done in my house. Great job, Jen- mission accomplished!