Inconceivable (Ben Elton)

Inconceivable is a novel by Ben Elton.
Finished on: 9.4.2017

Lucy and Sam have been happily married, but they’ve recently been struggling: they’re trying to have a baby and it’s just not working the way it should be working. Lucy’s newest idea is that they both keep a journal to maybe discover what’s blocking them, emotionally or otherwise. While Lucy hunts down everything that promises the slightest chance to increase their fertility, Sam is much more occupied with trying to finally write his great masterpiece screenplay. As the baby keeps them waiting, their relationship starts to crumble.

Inconceivable is okay. It’s not unfunny, but it’s predictable to the point of boredom and it never really manages to leave sexist heternormativity behind.

The book is written through the alternating diary entries from Lucy and Sam and it’s definitely at its best when Elton uses that to point out how the two miscommunicate and make their lives harder by not speaking plainly about what’s happening with them. But unfortunately that setup only makes it clearer how much more of a character Sam is compared to Lucy who remains flat (although she had all of my sympathies).

But Lucy’s obsession with having children makes her into a caricature of a character much more so than Sam, who, this being a comedy, is also an exaggerated character, but not to the extent that Lucy is. And it didn’t make me more forgiving that this is just such a heteronormative model: the woman who has never wanted anything other than have a child and who has to convince her husband of it – and he is, of course, conflicted about the idea of having a child, probably because he behaves like one himself for a lot of the time.

That being said, it was not a chore to finish the book. It was a quick read and every once in a while it really did make me laugh. But it simply wasn’t good enough that I took it home with me at the end of the holidays.

Summarizing: Okay.

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