Synopses & Reviews
From #1 New York Times
bestselling author Jennifer Weiner, a novel that's "funny, fanciful, extremely poignant and rich with insight" (The Boston Globe
For twenty-eight years, things have been tripping along nicely for Cannie Shapiro. Sure, her mother has come charging out of the closet, and her father has long since dropped out of her world. But she loves her friends, her rat terrier, Nifkin, and her job as pop culture reporter for The Philadelphia Examiner. She's even made a tenuous peace with her plus-size body.
But the day she opens up a national women's magazine and sees the words "Loving a Larger Woman" above her ex-boyfriend's byline, Cannie is plunged into misery...and the most amazing year of her life. From Philadelphia to Hollywood and back home again, she charts a new course for herself: mourning her losses, facing her past, and figuring out who she is and who she can become.
"Weiner's witty, original, fast moving debut features a lovable heroine, a solid cast, snappy dialogue and a poignant take on life's priorities. This is a must-read for any woman who struggles with body image, or for anyone who cares about someone who does." Publishers Weekly
Susan Isaacsauthor of Long Time No See and Almost ParadiseGood in Bed is a delight, a contemporary Cinderella tale told with intelligence, wit, and style.
"Pick up Good In Bed and I promise you'll be introduced to one of the funniest full-figured heroines to come along in years. Cannie Shapiro's wild ride through crazy romantic entanglements, dysfunctional family dilemmas, and battles with an ex-boyfriend who just won't go away will keep you turning the pages right up until the story's tender, touching finale." Susan Segrest, Mode Magazine
"Good In Bed is a delight, a contemporary Cinderella tale told with intelligence, wit, and style." Susan Isaacs, author of Almost Paradise and Red, White, and Blue
"A crackling debut...Cannie emerges as one of the most engaging, realistic female characters in years." —Entertainment Weekly,
"Cannie's adventures will strike a chord with all young women struggling to find their place in the world, especially those larger than a size eight." Library Journal
Entertainment WeeklyA crackling debut...Cannie emerges as one of the most engaging, realistic female characters in years....[
"This season's beach-book Queen for a Day." —Janet Maslin, New York Times
Valerie Frankel Author of Smart vs. Pretty Funny, zippy, and unflinchingly honest, Good In Bed is a powerhouse debut for Jennifer Weiner. I consumed this extra-large portion of a book in one sitting, rooting for Cannie the heroine and willing horrible atrocities on her ex-boyfriend. Some big surprises kept the pages flying; I grinned the whole way through. Good In Bed can only be described as deeply satisfying.
June 8, 2001 Entertainment Weekly gives Good in Bed an "A!"
[Good in Bed's] Cannie emerges as one of the most engaging realistic female characters in years...Weiner's smoothly written novel is stuffed with dialogue that rings with humor and truth.
"A delight...a contemporary Cinderella tale told with intelligence, wit, and style." —New York Times bestselling author Susan Isaacs
The day pop-culture journalist Cannie Shapiro reads her ex-boyfriend's published story about their sex life is the day her life changes. Embarking on a journey through her past she confronts her ex, deals with her lesbian mother, and sifts through the answer to how she got where she is single, angry and exposed.
About the Author
Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eleven books, which have spent a combined five years on the bestseller list, with over 15 million copies in print in thirty-six countries. Her iconic debut Good in Bed is now in its fifty-ninth printing. In Her Shoes was turned into a major motion picture starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, and Shirley MacLaine. All Fall Down has become one of the best-reviewed novels of 2014, and is hailed as “compulsively readable” by The New York Times Book Review. A graduate of Princeton University, she lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at JenniferWeiner.com.
Reading Group Guide
Reading Group Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. With Good in Bed, Jennifer Weiner has garnered a lot of early praise for her alternately hilarious and poignant dialogue, and also for her pitch-perfect ear in rendering the conversational rhythms of Cannie's first-person narrative voice. Looking back through the novel, what is it about the dialogue that works so well? In what ways does it serve to subtly develop each character's motivations and idiosyncrasies?
2. Discuss, in connection with the previous question, the specific tone and quality of Cannie Shapiro's voice. What techniques does Weiner employ to make Cannie's musings and descriptions come across so intimately? What sets the author's style apart from that of other contemporary authors? To which novelists would you say Weiner bears the closest comparison?
3. Cannie Shapiro is, among other things, a woman struggling to emerge from the shadow cast by her father's emotional abuse and aggressive abandonment. How successful is she, finally, in doing so?
4. In what ways do we see the painful legacy of Cannie's early relationship with her father (whom she dubs "the Original Abandoner") at work in the action of this novel, affecting the tenor of Cannie's relationships, choices, and/or motivations? To what degree can we view Bruce as a stand-in for her father?
5. "Maybe," Bruce writes in his notorious Moxie debut, "it was the way I'd absorbed society's expectations, its dictates of what men are supposed to want and how women are supposed to appear. More likely, it was the way she had. C. was a dedicated foot soldier in the body wars....C. couldn't make herself invisible. But I know that if it were possible -- if all the slouching and slumping and shapeless black jumpers could have erased her from the physical world, she would have gone in an instant." With these lines, from the novel's opening chapter, Weiner begins to lay the framework for the larger themes that temper, texture, and lend weight to the comedy and romance propelling Cannie's story. What are these themes and issues, and how are they developed throughout the rest of the novel?
6. The real-life specter of the Lewinsky-Clinton debacle looms in the background of this novel's fictional landscape. How does the Monica Lewinsky scandal -- and, more to the point, the witheringly cruel and petty reception that accompanied Lewinsky's emergence in media stories -- speak to the novel's portraits of male-female relationships in a body-obsessed culture?
7. How accurate is it to say that body fat has become, as Bruce writes in his column, "the only safe target in our politically correct world," the last "acceptable" object of societal prejudice? Where do we see this sort of prejudice at work? And in our advertising-drenched, consumer-driven society, where beauty and youth seem to be the chief signifiers of power and happiness, what are the implications and consequences of this prejudice?
8. How do Cannie's understandings of and feelings about her mother's relationship with Tanya evolve over the course of this story?
9. Are Tanya's cloying penchants for therapy-speak, rainbow flags, and "tofurkey" enough to justify the hostile attitude and relentlessly barbed humor Cannie directs toward her? Why or why not? In what way might the absence of Cannie's father be contributing to her animosity? What else?
10. Recalling a lecture from Psych 101 on the behavioral effects of random reinforcement, Cannie realizes that she's "become [her] father's rat." What is going on here? Unpack the meanings of Cannie's metaphor, and discuss how it relates to her subsequent relationships with men.
11. Look at Good in Bed in the context of other contemporary novels, movies, and plays about young, professional, single women looking for love and happiness in the big city. To what degree does this novel echo and reinforce certain narrative traditions you've come to expect from the genre, and in what ways does it depart from or redefine these traditions? [You might, for example, discuss Weiner's novel alongside recent works by Melissa Bank, Helen Fielding, and Candace Bushnell.]
12. "What I wanted, I thought, pressing my pillow hard against my face, was to be a girl again. To be on my bed in the house I'd grown up in...to be little, and loved. And thin. I wanted that." If we were to describe Good in Bed as the story of one woman's search for a true home, what elements would make up Cannie's ideal home? And how does this ideal change during the novel?
13. If you had to distill the themes, politics, and essential storyline of Good in Bed into three sentences for a write-up in the "And Bear in Mind" section of The New York Times Book Review, what would you say?
14. In the hospital after her fall at the airport, Cannie admits only to herself that the real source of all her anger was the fact that she "had failed Joy." What does she mean?
15. Where do you see Cannie, Joy, Peter, Maxi, Samantha, and Bruce five years after the close of the book? Outline the story arc of a Good in Bed sequel.
16. How well do you relate personally to Cannie's perceptions of life in a culture dominated by the zillion-dollar diet, beauty, and cosmetic surgery industries? How much of yourself and/or your friends do you see in the character of Cannie Shapiro? Do you agree with all of her choices? Relate to all of her motivations? Explain.