Introduction. Fit to be tied book review
What would you save if a house containing an old man and the one-of-a-kind Monalisa painting was on fire? A person who has no invested interest in art will undoubtedly choose to save actual life over an inanimate object. Suppose it was something tied to your career? Something precious like a tablet with saved addresses of all your clients that you can never retrieve or a copy of your book manuscript that is singular in nature…would you give up something that can completely derail your career to save the life of a man who has lived well past his prime?
Fit to be tied Overview.
Jennifer Smith is an artist who is determined to share her message of feminism through her art during an age where most men believe that the topic of gender equality is well, stale. After proudly debuting a piece of her art which happens to convey her thoughts surrounding gender discrimination and female empowerment, a renowned art critic, Matthew Benson, gives a scathing review that threatens to discredit Jennifer’s image in the art world.
And just like that a match is set between a “feminist prig” and a “chauvinistic pig”.
Joan Johnston, in her 1988 novel, “Fit To Be Tied”, attempts to build a bridge between feminism and chauvinism by creating an unlikely romantic relationship between Jennifer and Matthew.
To demonstrate that indeed opposite poles do attract, Joan places her main characters in an absolutely impossible situation. In an effort to restore her credibility, Jennifer comes up with yet another feminist artistic project entitled, “Separate but Equal”. Her goal is to prove that a woman is also a person and not just a sexual object as often portrayed by men. In the project, she will be tied to a man using a rope that would extend up to ten feet. This would last for exactly thirty days. Jennifer challenges Matthew to be her project partner, a man who firmly believes that a woman's place is the kitchen and the bedroom. After a heated debate, Jennifer wins Matthew over. He would relocate to her apartment and they would be tied together for a month without engaging into any sort of physical relations including a mere handshake. If they both lasted the full four weeks without touching, Matthew would write a retraction about Jennifer's art. If they fail to keep their hands to themselves, Jennifer's reputation remains to be muddled. The only problem is, they are both heavily attracted to each other. In fact, they each question their ability to do the project within the first hour of its commencement!
The plot to look forward to.
Any avid reader knows that all good novels have a long-term suspense plot and in our case it is whether Jennifer and Matthew will give into their physical desires before a month is up. This obviously keeps the reader at the edge of their chair, flicking through pages eager to know who will be the first to cave. Apart from the obvious mystery, we also learn more about the characters like why Jennifer became a feminist in the first place and what led Matthew to don the chauvinistic cloak later in life. Along the way, both their motives become clearer and it becomes harder and harder to draw a line between feminism and chauvinism. For instance, is it so wrong for a man to want a wife who will cook and mind the kids while juggling their career? And what happens when a man loses their job around the same time a woman gains a promotion? Is it fair to demand an abortion simply because a man cannot currently be the breadwinner?
As much as the book is an apparent masterpiece, it is hard to ignore some of its limitations. For starters, there has been very little wiggle room for other characters to develop despite them being introduced as important links to the story. For instance, Gertrude, Matthew's love interest, is swiftly discarded after her introductory scene and Patrick, Jennifer's way-too-eager student, appears briefly before vanishing altogether. While it might be said that the writer wanted to focus on her two main characters, she led us to believe that two people in their thirties had almost no outside connections at all.
Also, there is the fact that Joan unrealistically portrays love, marriage and “happily ever after” but it is a romance novel so this was to be expected. Besides, would you read a book which ended with a character saying “let’s see how it goes in the next few years before we tie the knot”?
Joan tackles a topic that has been assessed, discussed, weighed, tossed and brought back to the table again by using characters who believe that their truth is the truth.
Why you should read fit to be tied.
Her book is witty, humorous, enthralling and exceptionally educational. If you are looking for a warm yet mind boggling book to snuggle with this December holiday, “Fit To Be Tied” is the right pick for you!