Update: thank you for attending my whine party yesterday, but it's over today and I hope I won't be having another one for quite some time. Kristie, I'll be looking forward to that drink *g*
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Vintage (April 8, 2008)
Publisher: Vintage (April 8, 2008)
MEET EMILY ROSS, thirty years old, married to her college sweetheart,
and personal advocate for cake at breakfast time.
MEET EMILY'S HUSBAND, Kevin, a sweet technical writer with a passion for
small appliances and a teary weakness for "Little Women".
ENTER DAVID, a sexy young reporter with longish, floppy hair
and the kind of face Emily feels the weird impulse to lick.
In this captivating novel of marriage and friendship, Lauren Fox explores the baffling human heart and the dangers of getting what you wish for.
As I mentioned before, I got this book from HelenKay Dimon, because she basically described it as a trainwreck and I felt rather partial to reading about a trainwreck at the time, so she sent it to me, and I gotta tell you, she was right.
Emily has been with Kevin for nine years, the last five as his wife. Lately things have been a little tense because he's ready for babies and a house in the 'burbs, while she's content with their apartment in the city (of Milwaukee) and has no immediate desire to procreate at this time. To add to the stress, her bestest friend Meg, this gorgeous goddess of a school teacher, is pregnant and the two of them had always imagined going through pregnancy together, you know, sharing the experience, since their best friends and all.
While all this is going on, she catches the eye of a good-looking patron of her favorite coffee house, and they immediately strike up a friendship, one laced with a strong pull of attraction. Having forgotten to wear her wedding ring the day they first meet, David doesn't know she's married, yet when she realizes this, she's in no rush to tell him. Now the lies begin.
It starts out small, like most lies do, but snowballs until eventually she's coming up with creative ways to see David without anyone finding out. She feels horribly guilty, but it isn't enough for her to stop what she's doing, and once she's crossed that line, there's no going back....
I figured it would be hard to read a story about infidelity, if not impossible, but the writing of it just drew me completely in. I can't say I particularly liked Emily; she could be insecure and selfish and was determined to ruin her life, despite knowing better. I think the author tried to make her more likeable by trying to turn her into someone the reader could identify with, someone with flaws and self-esteem issues, but instead it made me resent that Emily would make such a disastrous choice as to proactively cheat on her husband.
Kevin wasn't a bad guy, just a dull one, and he had definite ideas about where he saw their life going, but that certainly didn't make him a monster or even a bad husband. He was in it for the long haul, and as obviously the more mature of the two, he was willing to move on to the next phase of their life together and tried to encourage Emily to shake off the ennui - brought on by not making any choices - that hung over their relationship. Kevin wanted a family.
What did Emily want? I don't know. What makes her unforgivable is the way she deliberately drifted into an affair without really caring about anyone but herself. Yes she felt guilty, but it wasn't enough to make her stop. I give her a tiny bit of credit for finally telling David she was married before she slept with him, but it can't overcome the dislike I felt for her once she took the ultimate step to destroy her marriage. And that is exactly what she did. Knowingly. Kevin may have contributed to Emily's discontent, but not enough to be at blame for her actions. That was all her doing.
Infidelity is a hot button for many people, and rightly so. There's almost no coming back from that, and the reasons behind it can hardly be justified. Taking those vows, making that promise, that's not something that should be done lightly, but once it's made, you can't go back on it, not unless you end the marriage. If Emily would have decided to have divorced Kevin, then pursued something with David, well, that would have been different. Instead Emily thought she could have it all, and never bothered to worry about anyone else's feelings but her own. Maybe I'm too caught up in my own personal feelings about marriage and commitment, but I can't look at this objectively and find excuses for Emily's behavior. A trainwreck is an apt description of the events that unfolded from the minute she meets David. By the time she consciously decides to sleep with him, I feel no sympathy for her whatsoever.
The writing was compelling and kept me reading even when I hated what was happening, and I found the author's voice to be rather engaging despite the subject matter, so basically that means I couldn't hate this book. Reading about a mundane marriage is rather depressing, and I felt the serious need for something light to wash away the feeling of dread. The ending is not all neat and tidy - several loose ends are left dangling. We don't know what will happen with Emily and Kevin, and maybe that's a good thing. That's for you to decide.
Rating: ***1/2 out of *****