Do we change or does the world change us?
Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.
Mrs. Everything – Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.
But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?
In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?
Table of Contents
Video Review: Mrs. Everything
An Amazon Best Book of June 2019: Spanning sixty-five years, Jo and Bethie Kaufman are sisters whose story begins in 1951. They’re polar opposites—Jo, the intrepid jock, has an eye for adventure (and, as it so happens, women), and Bethie is the girlie-girl whose aspirations skew more on the conventional side. When tragedy befalls one of them, dreams get deferred, threatening to irreparably change not only the course of their lives, but who they are. Jennifer Weiner’s Mrs. Everything is sweeping in its personal and political scope, chronicling Jo’s and Bethie’s fumbling attempts to right their respective ships against the backdrop of an America experiencing its own growing pains. It’s a multi-layered and very moving story for the #MeToo era, one that traces how far women have come, and how far we have yet to go. While Mrs. Everything will surely resonate with Weiner’s legion of female fans, I hope it does for more than a few good men, too. –Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review
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“Readers will flock to this ambitious, nearly flawless novel . . . Weiner asks big questions about how society treats women in this slyly funny, absolutely engrossing novel that is simultaneously epic and intimate.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Weiner brilliantly crafts ths heartwrenching multigenerational tale of love, loss, and family . . . Weiner’s talent for characterization, tight pacing, and detail will thrill her fans and easily draw new ones into her orbit. Her expert handling of difficult subjects will force readers to examine their own beliefs and consider unexpected nuances. Weiner tugs every heartstring with this vivid tale.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Jennifer Weiner has created a novel for the ages in Mrs. Everything, which is as impressive as it is ambitious… a skillfully rendered and emotionally rich family saga… an unapologetic feminist novel, fully fleshing out the pernicious effects of patriarchy… Weiner shows that big, expansive social novels are not only still possible in our fragmented society but perhaps necessary. Mrs. Everything is a great American novel, full of heart and hope.” (Shelf Awareness)
“Her most sprawling and intensely personal novel to date.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“A topical novel about sisterhood, heartache, hope, and womanhood that takes readers through the ‘herstory’ of the second half of the 20th century.” (Bustle)
“A sprawling story about two sisters growing up, apart, and back together . . . A poignant reminder of both the strides women have amide since the 1950s and the barriers that still hold them back. An ambitious look at how women’s roles have changed–and stayed the same–over the last 70 years.” (Kirkus Reviews)
About the Author
Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of fourteen books, including Good in Bed, The Littlest Bigfoot, and her memoir Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at JenniferWeiner.com
Originally published: 11 June 2019
Genre: Literary fiction