Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Review: Maria Semple's Today Will Be Different charts a hyperactive 24 hours for her hero

Title
Today Will Be Different
Author
Maria Semple
Genre
Fiction
Publisher
Little, Brown
Pages
259
Price
$35

I'm sure there will be people who don't enjoy Eleanor Flood, the latest figment of tell-it-like-it-is author Maria Semple's at times seemingly hyperactive imagination. But those people are probably boring and judgmental and not the types you should ever invite to a dinner party. In a novel that unfolds over the course of a single eventful day, Eleanor vows that today will be different. "Today I will radiate calm," the novel opens. "Kindness and self-control will abound. Today I will buy local. Today I will be my best self, the person I'm capable of being." Of course, it's not easy to be your best self when you're a little neurotic, a lot self-centred and hanging onto your sanity by a thread. Hilarity ensues as Eleanor bumbles through her day, breaking or damaging almost everything she touches (from hearts to celebrated pieces of art). But every time the novel edges into slapstick territory, Semple – she of Where'd You Go, Bernadette? super-fame – reveals a new piece of Eleanor's tortured past. Uniquely, this story is told in small part through drawings: Eleanor is a formerly renowned animator who has hidden her most beautiful and poignant piece of work from the world, and this artwork is featured in the book. Outside of the gentle beauty of the art, it can all be a bit much at times. Joe, Eleanor's reliable hand-surgeon-to-the-stars husband, is harbouring a secret that causes the story to jump the shark. But really, why not? There are times when truth is stranger than fiction, and other times when fiction is charmingly strange.

Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨