Book Review: The Ex Chronicles: A Novel
Book Reviewed by Thumper
If any of you have been following me for any length of time, you are well aware of how I feel about the 3, 4 sista-girlfriends novels that had become the staple of African-American literature. Novels that feature women characters who have no family other their small circle of friends, and the focus is always on how they lose love, or been with the wrong man, but after a tragic event, they solidify the romance to the man they did not expect to be hooking up with. I grew tired of these books years ago. I was not in the market to revisit those days. Imagine my surprise when I got a copy of The Ex-Chronicles by Carol Taylor. When the novel crossed my desk, I tossed it to the side and thought; somebody obviously did not know me. I was drawn to the novel anyway. When I became aware that Taylor was the editor of the Brown Sugar collection, I was intrigued. I read and loved Brown Sugar. On the back of Brown Sugar's reputation, I put The Ex-Chronicles in my "to read" pile. I'm glad I did. There was more substance in The Ex-Chronicles than I suspected. Easy to read, fast paced, and enthralling, The Ex-Chronicles is a damn good book. I enjoyed it!
The Ex-Chronicles consists of four friends who have been in relationships
with cheating men. Precious, a freelance writer is having trouble
making the ends meet. She caught her boyfriend Darius in their bed
screwing a white girl. *eyebrow raised* OK? And Darius is still alive to
tell the tale, too! It's been months since the break up and Darius are
trying to work his way back into Precious's good graces. Will she let
Zenobia was a successful model who downgraded her career to start a model agency for the sake of her relationship with her boyfriend Malcolm. After Zenobia moves back to New York from Amsterdam with Malcolm, he begins cheating on her. The cheating gig is getting old to Zenobia; sooner or later something is going to have to give.
Bella is a spoiled rich girl who got issues. Bella lives in Manhattan, in a fabulous apartment. She has no job, her parents support her financially. She's lonely. What Bella does have is a drug and alcohol addiction, and a no good musician boyfriend, Julius, who sees Bella every now and then. Reality will soon tear Bella's playhouse down.
Hope, a creative director of a fashion magazine, is suffering. She lost her father last year. Immediately after his death, Hope's mother began suffering from the symptoms of Alzheimer Disease and dementia. Hope's ex boyfriend Terrance could not take the upheavals of Hope's life so he dumped her and married someone else in a matter of months. Hope's life is pretty dismal until she meets Derrick. Can Derrick, a single dad who lives in the projects with his two young daughters, be the key to Hope's future happiness?
The Ex-Chronicles got one over on me. Despite the novel being about four girlfriends, there is some meat on the story. All of the characters were nicely developed. Their four storylines were mildly interesting, nothing to set the world on fire, but not boring. The Ex-Chronicles did not focus on designer name dropping, irritatingly sketchy, interchangeable women characters. The novel reached a literary plateau that all of the three, or four sista-girlfriend premise based books should have achieved years ago; evolving from having mere caricature of the successful, upward mobile, career having black women looking for love to stories that featured characters that has both feet firmly rooted in reality starring in entertaining stories.
I do have one minor complaint: the ending of Zenobia's storyline. Taylor took the time to properly wrap up everyone's storyline nicely, except Zenobia. Zenobia's storyline just stops. I'm not going to hint at how it ended, but I will say that it was a shame that Zenobia's storyline conclusion was rushed, treated as if it was an afterthought.
The Ex-Chronicles is a surprisingly good novel. I enjoyed the novel in spite of myself.