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The "Younger" Book Charles' Wife Wrote Is Real And I Actually Read It

Everything you need to know about Charles and Pauline's marriage breakdown.

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I’m a huge fan of Younger, and after seasons of being on the fence between Josh and Charles (they are just both so great), I have recently landed firmly on Team Charles.

There are many reasons why, but this isn’t the post for that – suffice to say, he and Liza deserve their shot, and also LOOK AT THAT HANDSOME FACE.
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There are many reasons why, but this isn’t the post for that – suffice to say, he and Liza deserve their shot, and also LOOK AT THAT HANDSOME FACE.

Naturally, as someone on Team Charles, when I found out his ex-wife’s book, Marriage Vacation, was being published in the real world, I jumped at the chance to read it.

As you know if you watch the show, it’s a thinly-veiled account of Pauline and Charles’ actual marriage breakdown. Like, VERY thinly-veiled.
Jenna Guillaume / BuzzFeed

As you know if you watch the show, it’s a thinly-veiled account of Pauline and Charles’ actual marriage breakdown. Like, VERY thinly-veiled.

The whole book is in-universe. There's a little Millennial logo on the spine, and no mention anywhere of who actually wrote it. Even the acknowledgements are from Pauline's perspective.

Yep, she's gunning for Charles hard.
Jenna Guillaume / BuzzFeed

Yep, she's gunning for Charles hard.

If you’re burning with curiosity but aren’t going to bother reading the book anytime soon, here’s how it all goes down.

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Let’s get the who is who out of the way first:

Don't get too excited – other than Charles/Karl and Pauline/Kate, the other characters are only mentioned in passing.
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Don't get too excited – other than Charles/Karl and Pauline/Kate, the other characters are only mentioned in passing.

The book begins with Kate in California for her friend’s wedding.

Karl hasn’t joined her because of a work emergency (at Paradigm, the stand-in for Empirical), and Kate’s low-key pissed about it.

There’s a lot of Kate’s internal musings about how hot she and Karl are together, and how everyone is always jealous of them, and how dare Karl not be around NOW because nobody is jealous of her at this wedding.

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In fact, Kate is the one who is being eaten up by jealousy – thanks to the appearance of one of her old college friends, Nina, who is now a successful author.

Unlike Kate, who gave up writing after she got married and had kids. Because even with a live-in nanny, she was far too busy redecorating her and Karl’s THREE properties to devote any time to writing.

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Look. Intellectually, I appreciate the idea that this book is pushing – both within Younger and in the real world – that there’s a double standard when it comes to men and women leaving their families. And I also think it’s important to see narratives in which women have complicated feelings around having kids, and in which they push back against old-fashioned standards and place value on their work and their creativity.

But it’s still hard to swallow the idea that this privileged white woman is so hard done by because she hasn’t made time to write in 10 years, despite having a live-in carer for her kids. Like, women without that benefit have successful writing careers all the time. You don’t need to leave your family for a year in order to finish a damn novel.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Kate is still at the wedding. In a plot straight from Younger, her friend Nina slips her a molly-spiked brownie, and Kate unwittingly gets extremely high.

The last thing she remembers is skinny dipping in the ocean, which provides the opportunity for the first ~sexy~ scene of the book – not in the present day, but a flashback to when her and Karl were more sexually adventurous.

Kate wakes up the next day sprawled naked on her bed in her hotel room. She discovers she booked a ticket to Thailand with Nina while she was high, but quickly says she will never actually go. She does, however, decide to take a few extra days for herself in California, despite professing to miss her husband and kids terribly.When she tells him, Karl is like “that’s fine, you’ll miss this fundraiser we bought tickets for though”, which pisses Kate off. Later, she gets an email from a fellow Upper East Side mom who she hates, which tips her over the edge.
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Kate wakes up the next day sprawled naked on her bed in her hotel room. She discovers she booked a ticket to Thailand with Nina while she was high, but quickly says she will never actually go. She does, however, decide to take a few extra days for herself in California, despite professing to miss her husband and kids terribly.

When she tells him, Karl is like “that’s fine, you’ll miss this fundraiser we bought tickets for though”, which pisses Kate off. Later, she gets an email from a fellow Upper East Side mom who she hates, which tips her over the edge.

She considers going to Thailand after all, and this is the clincher: She calls Karl, her very busy husband who is dealing with a massive work problem, and decides that if he answers, she’ll go home, but if he doesn’t, she’s going to Thailand. What a mature and well-adjusted adult thing to do. Uh-huh.

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She doesn’t get through to Karl, so off she goes to Thailand. Yep, what started as a weekend away for a friend’s wedding has spiralled into a spontaneous trip to another country, without letting her family know first. Of course, she only plans to stay for a week. But we all know how this ends.

I should note that one of the reasons Kate is particularly frustrated at this moment is that one of Karl’s authors sexually harassed her at a dinner she was hosting, which adds another layer to the whole thing – or it would, if it didn’t feel kind of shoe-horned in and then was subsequently never mentioned again.

On the plane to Thailand, Kate writes Karl a letter explaining where her head is at. She recounts how she and Karl first met in a bookshop in Paris, and how they gave in to their passion that night in a public park. THAT’S RIGHT, it’s the infamous page 58.

You might remember Liza, Diana, and Kelsey getting very ~excited~ over page 58 on Younger, with Diana implying it involved anal sex. As you can see, it does not. Although there is the suggestion of butt stuff on the next page, as Kate writes: "You flipped me over, gave me a fierce spank, and we were back at it again. I wanted to do anything with you. Everything...We pleased each other in every way we could think of for hours (and in ways I'd never trusted anyone before)..."
Jenna Guillaume / BuzzFeed

You might remember Liza, Diana, and Kelsey getting very ~excited~ over page 58 on Younger, with Diana implying it involved anal sex. As you can see, it does not. Although there is the suggestion of butt stuff on the next page, as Kate writes: "You flipped me over, gave me a fierce spank, and we were back at it again. I wanted to do anything with you. Everything...We pleased each other in every way we could think of for hours (and in ways I'd never trusted anyone before)..."

Anyway, Kate never sends the letter, instead calling Karl a day after she's arrived in Thailand. He's shocked, but pretty understanding, all things considered.

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Kate tells him she feels like she's lost herself, and she needs some space. He says, "I still don't understand what's going on, but I understand you need time. Take the time, Katie. I love you."

Kate is now at a retreat, in the middle of nowhere, by herself. You see, her friend Nina is a no-show. Kate is surprised, until she remembers Nina is a total flake who always cancels on plans.

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Kate decides to stick around anyway, and uses the time to sleep and write. She makes a list of goals she wants to achieve by the end of her week in Thailand:

This is all well and good, but I gotta say, the "remind your husband that he needs you" thing kinda annoyed me. Like, leaving your husband on a whim to send him a message about how he should be paying more attention to you is pretty fucked up? She even says that instead of "eat, pray, love", she's on a quest to "rest, relax, make my husband want me again". Then she just, like, stays at the retreat? Because she feels like it? She can't stand returning to her old life yet, or something. It's skipped over pretty quickly and she's like, oh, months have passed btw! At this stage her and Charles are still technically together, and she plans on being home for Christmas.
Jenna Guillaume / BuzzFeed

This is all well and good, but I gotta say, the "remind your husband that he needs you" thing kinda annoyed me. Like, leaving your husband on a whim to send him a message about how he should be paying more attention to you is pretty fucked up? She even says that instead of "eat, pray, love", she's on a quest to "rest, relax, make my husband want me again".

Then she just, like, stays at the retreat? Because she feels like it? She can't stand returning to her old life yet, or something. It's skipped over pretty quickly and she's like, oh, months have passed btw! At this stage her and Charles are still technically together, and she plans on being home for Christmas.

Then Kate decides, after months of writing, she should do something for someone else, so she volunteers for a day at a refugee camp for women and children on the border between Thailand and Myanmar. And surprise! She decides helping out there is her new calling, and cancels her trip home. At Christmas.

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In another unsent letter to Karl, Kate explains how things haven't been the same in their relationship since she had a miscarriage in between their two daughters being born. This is why she feels such a connection to one of the refugees in the camp, who recently had a miscarriage herself. It's quite a revelation, but it feels kinda cheap – it's another pretty heavy plot point that's never really addressed again.

I mean, Kate doesn't mention any of this when she tells Karl on the phone that she won't be home for Christmas.

He's all, "I don't understand any of this, Kate. I wanted you to have your time, but this is too much". He then tells her that it's too painful to talk to her anymore.

And Kate is actually SHOOK that, after months away from home, and cancelling on her family at Christmas, her husband doesn't really want to speak to her. Okay, Kate.

While Kate is busy writing and spending time at the refugee camp, she befriends Mia, a doctor, along with Mia's younger brother, Derek, who is also helping out. Aaaand here's where I got really twitchy.

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You see, these two characters are Australian. I am also Australian. And there is nothing more annoying to an Australian than seeing their nationality misrepresented in pop culture (well, except for that one The Simpsons episode, which we've weirdly embraced).

Often, Australian characters written by Americans can veer into over-the-top stereotype territory. That's not the problem here. Quite the opposite, in fact. Because Mia and Derek sound EXACTLY like Americans. They say "mom", mention their "freshman" and "sophomore" years at "college", and, worst of all, call Australia "Aussie". As in, "when we get back to Aussie". FYI, Americans: This is something people from New Zealand would say, but NEVER Australians. "Aussie" is only used to describe people/things, not the country itself.

Okay, now that I've got that off my chest, I'll stop ranting about these terribly-written Australian characters (for now, at least).

I was expecting Kate to have a fling with Derek, and she does mention that she knows she can have sex with him if she wants to, but their relationship stays rather platonic, aside from some flirting here and there.

Meanwhile, on the writing front, Kate sends off some short stories to a literary magazine using her maiden name, and they agree to publish one after some extensive editing, which makes Kate pretty happy.

What makes her less happy is learning Karl has filed for divorce. She tries calling him, and guess who answers? That's right, it's LIZA. I mean, Lena.

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Lena is baby-sitting for Karl and Kate's kids, and Kate is shocked to her core to realise that her kids' lives have moved on without her to the point that there's a strange woman looking after them. It's this which makes her finally decide to go home.

Except, she still doesn't.

But wait, before I get to the big climax, I have to tell you that this is the only mention of Liza/Lena in THE WHOLE BOOK.

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As I said earlier, there's only a few passing references to the Younger characters beyond Pauline and Charles. FYI: Kelsey/Kasey is described as a "rising star at Paradigm" who wears skirts so short they give "the entire room a glimpse of her labia" (rude, Kate). Meanwhile Diana/Donna is referred to as Paradigm's "Machiavellian head of marketing".

BTW, another thing mentioned in passing: Karl proposed to Kate with a literary scavenger hunt across Paris. As if I didn't love Charles enough already.

Onto the climax: Kate delays going home once again to help out a refugee, Htet, who she's become close to. Htet's husband is missing in Myanmar, so Kate and Derek hop on a plane to try to find him. Before they get far, they're in a car crash and Kate winds up in hospital with two broken ribs and a concussion.

In hospital, she hallucinates seeing Karl, but he's not really there, of course – he doesn't even know she's in Myanmar, let alone that she's been hurt.

Kate needs better medical attention than what’s given at the rudimentary hospital she’s in, but it's too risky for her to fly all the way back to America. Derek suggests he and Mia take her to Australia, so she can go to the hospital in Darwin and then recuperate at his widowed father's farm in the outback.

(BTW, Htet's husband has been found while all this is going on, so that's something I guess.)

If you're thinking that the relocation of the story to Australia might get me twitching again, ding ding ding, you're correct.

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What follows is the most offensive passage in the book, in which Mia explains that their family farm is named "Bahloo Station" after "an old folktale" that "might have started with the native folk".

That sentence is something only a racist Australian would actually utter. Not someone who is, according to this random tidbit, actually Indigenous themselves?! She also calls Uluru "Ayers Rock" which, once again, is only something a pretty backwards Australian would say. Whoever wrote this book has absolutely no idea about the nuances of Australian culture, let alone Aboriginal identity. Meanwhile, even the most basic Google search will take you to the Wiki entry for Bahloo, which reveals he is part of the belief system of the Indigenous people of southeast Australia, not the northern part of the country where this book is set.Cherry-picking bits and pieces from the culture of a marginalised people you know nothing about is not a good look.
Jenna Guillaume / BuzzFeed

That sentence is something only a racist Australian would actually utter. Not someone who is, according to this random tidbit, actually Indigenous themselves?! She also calls Uluru "Ayers Rock" which, once again, is only something a pretty backwards Australian would say. Whoever wrote this book has absolutely no idea about the nuances of Australian culture, let alone Aboriginal identity.

Meanwhile, even the most basic Google search will take you to the Wiki entry for Bahloo, which reveals he is part of the belief system of the Indigenous people of southeast Australia, not the northern part of the country where this book is set.

Cherry-picking bits and pieces from the culture of a marginalised people you know nothing about is not a good look.

On an entirely more trivial note, we then get the introduction of Mia and Derek's dad, who is only in his fifties and "one of the most handsome men" Kate's ever seen. Which doesn't really compute because HAVE YOU SEEN HER HUSBAND?!

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Anyway, I guess whoever actually wrote this thing wanted to convey that Dusty, the dad, is a little more old-school Aussie than his kids, because there's a rare attempt at using Australian slang in a sentence: Dusty says, "that bogan ran off again and got mixed in with the sheep" (emphasis NOT mine).

Dusty is talking about a dog here. FYI, Americans, bogan is not a catch-all insult used to describe someone or something that's annoying. It's a complex descriptor that has a lot of class baggage – but believe me when I say no Australian would ever use it in a sentence like that.

(Admittedly, I have pretty strong feelings about the word bogan – I even wrote a whole essay about it. I'm not kidding.)

Kate enjoys her time at the farm, resting and writing – this is when she begins her novel, which will go on to become Marriage Vacation, because this whole thing is basically a snake eating its own tail.

In the middle of this, she learns via the internet that Karl is dating someone else, Daphne Sarraf – a stand-in for Radha, who you might remember Charles briefly dated in Season 3 of Younger. It's suggested that Karl hasn't mentioned it to her because he didn't want to drop the bomb over the phone while she was still recovering from the accident.

Despite Kate wanting to fight for Karl at this point, she asks Mia to sell her wedding and engagement ring and give the money to Htet. I appreciate the noble intent and all but seriously WHAT ARE YOU DOING WOMAN THAT IS NOT THE WAY TO CONVINCE YOUR HUSBAND YOU STILL CARE?!

Meanwhile, Kate has also been enjoying Dusty's company. Derek has picked up with his ex-girlfriend and is out of the house most of the time, while Mia has gone back to Thailand. So Kate and Dusty are left mostly alone with each other, and quite like what they see.

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After a few too many wines, they end up making out, but it's all incredibly awkward and Dusty starts crying because he hasn't quite got over his wife's death the previous year. They decide to stick to talking, which results in Kate revealing that Karl can make her come in less than two minutes. Because that's totally what you tell a man who just had his tongue down your throat???

We get one final unsent letter to Karl, in which Kate says a very similar thing to what Charles told Liza on Younger about them being "two vines".

Jenna Guillaume / BuzzFeed

Kate books a trip to Paris and asks Karl to meet her there, because she's all about spontaneity now. He doesn't, because one of their daughters gets sick, and unlike Kate, he chooses parenting over leaving the country on a whim.

Kate isn't deterred, though – she FINALLY heads back to New York, after nearly a year away (on a trip that was only supposed to be one weekend, remember). She presents Karl with her manuscript and then... AND THEN...

There's a flash-forward to "one year later", and Kate describes a happy family trip to Hawaii, in which she and Karl have recaptured their passion for each other, and for fucking in public (they do it in a hammock near the beach).

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This is the only part of the book, I think, where ~Pauline~ actually bothered to come up with some fiction.

So there you have it! The book everyone went so bananas about at Empirical. It is not really literary, as the show suggests, but it is a quick, easy, and relatively entertaining read.

As long as you're not Australian. Then it will just piss you off.