Friday, April 17, 2009

Man Of The House by Ad Hudler

Man Of the House follows the Menner family for a year as their lives change. The family has recently moved to Naples, Florida, when Jo, the wife, gets a new position as an executive at a hospital group. She has been the breadwinner for years. Her husband, Lincoln, gave up his career as a landscape architect to stay home with their daughter, Violet. But this plan, which has worked for the family for thirteen years now, changes as they move forward.

Linc has been a fantastic caregiver, and has poured his creative talents into raising Violet and creating a supportive environment. But these days, he starts to feel burned out and that he needs something else. After nurturing his feminine traits for years, Linc starts to move more toward his masculine side. He starts to work out and soon has a bodybuilder's physique. He starts to spend time at a barbershop, a retreat that is exclusively and unashamedly male. He does less and less at home, creating confusion in Violet and Jo who expect him to handle everything. His obsession with cleaning, cooking, and fulfilling his wife's and child's every need receeds as he starts spending lots of time with a local contractor, who teaches him about the world of tools and construction.

As Linc changes, so does the family. Violet veers between feeling neglected and cherishing the freedom that her dad's inattention gives her to make new friends and even make tentative moves into the world of dating. Jo takes over more of the household duties, although it is difficult with her 80-hour workweeks. In the process, she realises that her career has in many ways put up a wall between her and Violet, and she is simulataneously upset at the realisation and grateful that she still has years to develop a closer relationship before Violet leaves the family. Outside pressure is put on Jo and Linc's marriage when a teacher at Violet's school develops an obsession with Linc and starts trying to seduce him.

Ad Hudler has done a masterful job at portraying the issues that make up a marriage and the parent-child relationship. Gender differences and how different people respond to gender expectations is skillfully portrayed. I started this book expecting some light chick-lit, and was pleasantly surprised at how well each character was devloped and how different familial patterns were analyzed. This book is recommended for those interested in family relationships and general fiction.

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