Friday, April 2, 2010

Review: Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright

Elyse is on her way home from an art show where she has sold a respectable number of her pots when she ends up sitting next to Gerry, a wealthy banker. They strike up a conversation and make a connection that proves hard for them to break once their plane has landed and they must each run for their connecting flights. Ducking into the airport chapel, they kiss passionately before Elyse heads home to her stagnant and unsatisfying marriage. Chronicling three quarters of a year following this encounter, Elyse narrates as she commits to a long-distance affair with Gerry as well as continuing on blindly through her ordinary life, taking her young daughter to school and sports, going through the motions with Phil, the husband who no longer sees her, and seeing her friends as if her normal, everyday life hasn't shifted perceptibly.

But the book is about far more than a considered infidelity. While Elyse does carry on her clandestine and exciting affair with Gerry, she is also going to marriage counseling with Phil. And the realities and numbness that embody marriage for Elyse, even in a marriage to a congenitally “nice guy,” are more the focus than the affair. That Elyse felt underappreciated, unnoticed, and as if a vital piece of herself was missing is more to the point than anything else. She has become a caricature of herself, or the person she’s supposed to be in her marriage. An imposter. Inauthentic. The fact that she craves happiness over mere contentment speaks to the state of her life overall. And she knows she is behaving badly. She knows what is at stake and what she will be giving up when she finally does walk out that door. Because really, Elyse is trying desperately to conquer the inertia that holds her in her safe, married, suburban world.

Wright has not glorified affairs but she holds a troubling mirror up to the institution of marriage even as she allows the reader to sit in judgment over Elyse. Remarkably, given the subject matter, she has managed to create a thoughtful and piercing work. All the characters are seen through Elyse’s eyes but Wright has created a character self-aware enough to recognize her failings as a friend and a wife so that we readers get a rounded view of the people important to Elyse. Both Phil and Gerry remain ciphers but as they are more symbolic of the issues in Elyse’s life, the fact that we can’t really know them works and reinforces the struggle that Elyse is facing. Not a book to write off based on the rather fluffy title, this is well-written and provocative and likely to be a book I think about for quite some time to come.

Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy of this book.

There are many other people touring this book today as well and you might want to check out their reviews as well:

Madeleine's Book and Photo Blog
A Few of My Favorite Things
Psychotic State
Bookin' With Bingo
In Bed With Books
Bless Their Hearts Mom
Drey's Library

Don't forget to check out a mini interview with author Kim Wright at Publisher's Weekly promising fiction debuts.

Kim Wright is a North Carolina author, local to me, so this is also a stop on the Literary Road Trip for North Carolina authors.


  1. Wow, Kristen, thanks so much for that thoughtful and interesting review of my book. You hit on exactly the word that I kept thinking about as I was writing, which is "authentic." I think that is exactly Elyse's struggle, and the struggle of many women. Right now I'm working on the sequel to "Love," which accelerates the story ten years into the future and is now told from the point of view of Elyse's best friend Kelly. She's been "faking it" in a different kind of way, but her story is about a search for authenticity too.

    Thanks so much for hosting me!

    Kim Wright

  2. I tried to get in on this tour but was too late. I love this review, though, and I think I'll add it to my wish list!

  3. I am still on the bench about this one, but it looks good enough. Might give it a try!

  4. Excellent review! I like the subtlety of the story - " a considered infidelity". Sometimes the "almost" mis-steps cause more angst than the actual deeds!

  5. From the title I wouldn't have guessed that the book deals with such a serious subject. Thanks for your well-thought review!


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