In HOUSEHUSBAND, first time novelist Ad Hudler has created in Linc
Menner a character who is both irritating and lovable at every turn
of the page.
Linc gives up his successful business in Los Angeles as a landscape
architect to the stars when his wife Jo gets an offer for a dream
job in New York state. Soon he finds that not only is giving up his
job and moving across country an enormous adjustment, so is the
daunting task of becoming primary caregiver to the couple's
three-year-old daughter Violet. Linc thrives in his newfound
position in life --- although he's not entirely happy.
Here is where Hudler puts his finger on the pulse of every family
who has one spouse who works long hours and one who stays home with
the children. The story is familiar to everyone, but with a twist.
In HOUSEHUSBAND, it is Linc who feels under-appreciated and
misunderstood by his wife --- and society in general --- as he
manages every little nuance of the household, and it is Jo who
feels unnoticed by their daughter, who has become accustomed to
going to daddy for her every need.
Linc Menner takes us through a difficult year in his life, one in
which he has given up his identity as a man and tried to take on a
role that is unfamiliar territory in so many ways. He tackles his
new task with the same focus he gave to his former career, and in
many ways he succeeds admirably. Violet is a highly verbal,
intelligent, sweet and curious child thanks to the energies spent
on her by her father. In fact, his only real problem with his
daughter is the always funny, ever disgusting trials and
tribulations of potty training. Well, that and the fact that
spending so much time with Violet has robbed him of the adult
companionship he so desperately needs.
Linc certainly doesn't find any worthwhile conversation in his
dealings with Patty, the nanny, his opposite in every way. But he
does find an ally in Marilyn, one of his new neighbors, who has two
children and an abusive husband. They drink together and cook
together and complain together. Linc needs Marilyn as his friend.
The men in the neighborhood don't understand what he does at home
all day since he is not "working." The women of the neighborhood
initially fear him because, after all, he is a man, and they are
not used to letting their children be alone with a man. That is,
until the women of this upscale neighborhood realize what a
fabulous cook he is and that he does indeed know his plants.
Running alongside Linc's own story is that of his mom. Carol Menner
is a free spirit who has spent a lifetime with a stoic,
uncommunicative man. One day she decides to take off on an
adventure in her car, keeping her family aware of her travels
through hilarious and heartbreaking e-mails. Although she often
indulges herself with revealing too much personal information to
her son, and she might not have always been the best parent, Linc
does credit her with teaching him to understand women. Carol Menner
is also the one to remind her son to relax with his duties as a
househusband and to enjoy his daughter more, not to think of her as
just another job.
Jo also does her best to try to keep her husband happy. She
cautions him to be careful in his friendship with Marilyn and to
seek out more friends --- and to think about looking for work. Linc
eventually does find a job as chief horticulturalist for the
village of Pittsford, responsible for keeping their suburban town
looking beautiful. He is happy with his work but he begins to feel
like he is neglecting things at home, and when Jo tells him she is
pregnant again, Linc finally realizes it is time to become a
full-time househusband once again.
At one point Linc asks himself about passiflora --- the vine
he plants in their new home that slinks and curls its way across
each ceiling, around chandeliers and along walls and cabinets until
eventually returning to its original pot --- "Which gender better
fits this restful, graceful personality that thrives while
searching for something better?" Ad Hudler answers the question by
indicating that both men and women are capable of fitting that
definition. It's part of the human condition. Linc wonders if the
end of passiflora's journey will mark the end of his. Just
like passiflora, Linc finds his way back to his home, to
what he does best. And it is just the beginning.
Reviewed by Anita Bunn on January 22, 2011
- Publication Date: April 27, 2004
- Genres: Fiction
- Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books
- ISBN-10: 0345470621
- ISBN-13: 9780345470621