Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn
Meg Fratano is a stereotype and knows it. She is 48 years old, married to Bob, over-educated with a university position, and has two children --- Shaun, who is already gone after a very silent adolescence, and Katie, who, although 17 and still in high school, is treated by Meg as more of a friend. Meg's mother, forbidden by her father to go to college, consistently told her daughter that she would go to college and work outside the home, and that Meg could travel and have the life she herself couldn't have. Her mother's sister, Auntie Marcia, reinforced this message through stories of her own worldly jaunts and had great expectations for Meg, who she saw as more daughter than niece. Despite their preaching, however, Meg has become a grown-up woman who lives her life for everyone but herself.
One Thursday, Meg, who is working outside of her office on a project, stops by her house to pick up some files from the basement. A noise from upstairs initially frightens her into thinking there is a burglar in the house. But as she goes to investigate, the rhythmic nature of the noise belies a robbery. Instead, what Meg finds in her bedroom, and more importantly watches intently, is her husband making love to a woman only identified as Miss Geranium, due to the color of her nail polish. When Meg is finally able to break her humiliating yet silent pose, she leaves her home, just as silently, and runs to her "goddess friend" Elizabeth.
From here Meg (or Meggie, as many people seem to call her) begins her journey of self-discovery. First, her marriage ends with very little quarrel over property or money. Her relationship with her daughter deepens (Katie is practically unaffected by the divorce of her parents). She forges friendships with new women like Jane, who approaches her in a neighborhood bar, is in the throes of a divorce herself and, oh by the way, also slept with Bob. Interestingly enough, Meg, full of her newfound wisdom and insight, accepts this and they go on to become fast friends. Meg starts therapy and hits it right off with her female therapist, Dr. C (who might be one of Elizabeth's old lovers), a single mom/waitress who woke up one day and decided to get a Ph.D.
Meg and her mother talk a lot about Auntie Marcia (who died years earlier) and her frequent trips to Mexico. Along with a ring and bracelet she left for Meg when she died, there is some money in an account for a trip to Mexico (although it was intended that she do this as a much younger woman). Before you can say "Hola, Amigo!" Meg, Elizabeth and Jane are in Mexico bouncing around in a jeep with a beautiful woman named Linda (warning: most of the women are bohemian beautiful in this novel and apparently they sleep around with each other) in search of the "dancing doggies" from one of Meg's favorite stories told by the dearly departed Marcia.
During the course of the novel, a number of martinis, margaritas and cups of herbal tea are drunk. Many things are done by middle-aged women that seem pretty crazy unless you are the middle-aged woman doing it --- skinny dipping, filling small rock circles with flower petals in which to lie, and, of course, dancing naked. There are lots of deep, introspective conversations filled with "why nots" and "what ifs." There is a cottage in Mexico left to Meg by Marcia and possibly a love interest. Purple skirts, silver bracelets and Reverse Bridal Showers abound, and every end is neatly tied by the novel's conclusion. A perfect mid-life crisis book about an "almost" perfect mid-life crisis. Or at least, the kind this reader would like to have. Wow, Meg. Wow.
Reviewed by Jamie Layton on January 11, 2011
Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn
- Publication Date: December 28, 2004
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 328 pages
- Publisher: Bantam
- ISBN-10: 0553382632
- ISBN-13: 9780553382631