FAIRFIELD — Bestselling author Jennifer Weiner will return to her home state Friday to promote her new book, “Mrs. Everything,” at the Fairfield Public library on Friday.
The novel — her 13th — travels back to the 1950s to tell the story of two sisters and their very different journeys into adult and womanhood.
Though growing up Jo was the rebel tomboy and Bethie the traditional good girl, their roles ultimately switch. Bethie becomes an adventure-loving city girl in Detroit while Jo settles down in Connecticut to raise a family.
The Connecticut setting has everything to do with the author’s upbringing in Simsbury.
“I felt out of place and wished I lived in a city,” she said. “I was desperately unhappy in the way that all teens are desperately unhappy.”
This might have had something to do with the turmoil she endured in her home life. When Weiner was 16 years old, her parents got divorced.
Looking back, though, the adversity which she faced in the town was something that she said she needed.
“You need to see the world as it is to see what you want it to be; that’s Simsbury,” the author said.
Though “Mrs. Everything” explores the lives of two sisters both searching for meaning and happiness, it is written as a tribute to all women, especially Weiner’s mother, whose own life and love story served as inspiration for one of the characters.
“Over the years, as I’ve become a mother myself, I thought more about women in America of my mother’s generation and what it must have been like to come of age at a totally different time,” she said.
Weiner had been thinking for a while about writing a novel that required a large amount of historical research, she said, but after the 2016 presidential election and the development of the #MeToo movement, the topic of women in society started to feel more urgent to her.
“Given the times, I want readers to think about choices women make and choices they can’t make and the freedoms they have and the freedoms they don’t have … I want readers to ask ‘Have we come far enough?’” Weiner said.
As someone who portrays the female narrative in her books and in op-eds for the New York Times, Weiner has always used her platform as an author to promote feminism, both in the book world and the real world.
Although she joked about finally crossing the divide from “chick lit” to women’s fiction, Weiner said she hopes that, one day, coming-of-age stories about women will not have to be distinguished from those about men.
“Someday I hope women’s fiction is just going to be fiction,” she said
But she knows that progress is neither linear nor certain. With her work, she said she hopes to continue to move the needle forward.
“There are a lot of stories to be told and there are a lot of women who don’t see themselves in stories,” she said. “I hope, as my career goes on, I can find more of those stories and tell them.”
Jennifer Weiner will be on hand for the release of “Mrs. Everything” from noon to 2 p.m. Friday at the Fairfield Public library. Tickets are $40 per person and reservations are required. For more information, visit the library’s website.