The deceptions and tricks keep piling up in “Younger,” the comedy on TV Land that starts its fifth season this Tuesday.
Liza’s scheme works so well that she becomes an editor at Empirical Press, but oh, what a tangled web she weaves! Not only is she in love with her boss, Charles, but she’s editing a novel by Charles’s estranged wife, Pauline — a novel that is actually a thinly veiled memoir. All this puts Liza in the compromising position of deceiving the man she loves while editing a book full of intimate details about his failed marriage.
And now, that fake novel, titled “Marriage Vacation,” is jumping off the TV screen and landing in real bookstores.
The publisher is having lots of fun with this act of literary trompe l’oeil, and fans of the show will, too. “Marriage Vacation” proudly displays Millennial Print and Simon & Schuster on its spine. The author is “Pauline Turner Brooks,” the character played by Jennifer Westfeldt on “Younger.” The jacket flat says that Pauline “is married to Charles Brooks, and they have two children. Marriage Vacation is her first novel.” Which is all true, except that it’s all made up.
Simon & Schuster pulled a similar meta-stunt last year when it published “Snow Falling,” a novel supposedly written by Jane Gloriana Villanueva, the lead character on the CW’s romantic comedy “Jane the Virgin.”
“Marriage Vacation” doesn’t rehash episodes of “Younger,” but it gives fans a fresh perspective on the show and on Pauline, who is one of the many obstacles preventing Liza and Charles from pursuing a romantic relationship. It’s full of all the same pop-culture references that make “Younger” so enjoyable, and we finally get a chance to read the steamy sex scene on page 58 that scandalized Liza and her colleagues in Season 4.
The plot of “Marriage Vacation” follows the life of a woman named Kate Carmichael, the wife of a successful New York publisher. Feeling unaccomplished compared to her fellow Columbia MFA classmates, Kate follows the lead of a flighty friend and books a one-way ticket to a retreat in a Thai village. For the first time in too long, Kate is alone and has space to think. Along the way, she helps out at a local refugee camp and learns how she can find happiness in her failing marriage.
“Marriage Vacation” addresses issues that women of any age will relate to, and it can easily be enjoyed by readers who have never watched “Younger.” Kate notes that when women write about the emotional aspects of marriage, their books are deemed “chick lit,” while men who write on the same themes win literary awards. And Kate is quick to realize that her mental health break would be deemed selfish, while a man going through the same experience would be said to be suffering through “a midlife crisis.”
For all its games within games, “Marriage Vacation” makes a delightful read for die-hard fans of “Younger” as well as anyone looking to reaffirm that women are capable of whatever they put their minds to — on TV or in real life.
Nicole Chung works for Book World at The Washington Post.
By Pauline Turner Brooks
Millennial Print/Simon & Schuster. 240 pp. $26
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