“Better Off Without Him” by Dee Ernst is comedic novel that will have you laughing from the first page.
The main character is Mona Berman, a very successful romance novelist who lives in the suburbs of New Jersey. The drama begins when Mona’s husband, Brian, after two decades of marriage, comes home from work in the middle of the day to tell her that he is leaving her for another woman. Her reaction? “I was perfectly willing to do whatever it took to get my marriage back to where I thought it was, say, oh, two hours before.”
“Better Off Without Him” is told in the first person, so it reads like a diary. Using a lot of wit and sarcasm, Mona relates the trials and tribulations that follow Brian leaving her. Throughout the book, as Mona gradually realizes that her marriage was really not as successful as she thought it was, her humorous thoughts and feelings on the subject are perpetuated by feedback from close friends and family and the other characters around her.
There is always something going on in Mona’s big cozy house, and she loves that. Mona has three teenage daughters, Miranda, Lauren, and Jessica. Her two best friends, Patricia and Marsha, live close by. Her personal assistant, Anthony, is always around. Her Aunt Lily suddenly shows up after having sold her Brooklyn apartment with no place to live. Mona’s plumber, Ben, is practically on retainer, there are so many issues in her house for him to attend to. And Mona has a whole other set of friends and activities at her summer beach house neighborhood on Long Beach Island.
Everyone will laugh when reading this book, and one particular demographic—mothers in their thirties and up—will connect well with and understand Mona. She worries about her drooping physique, the wellbeing of her children and how to find a sex life now that she’s single. Some readers will also learn from Mona; she starts off wobbly, but with the support of friends and family, realizes how talented and awesome she really is.
Dee Ernst is a talented and humorous writer. The story flows well, makes sense, and you can imagine Mona Berman as a real person: hanging out at home, dealing with tension, feeling elated. You will wish “Better Off Without Him” could go on forever.