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
Bookin' With Bingo
In Bed With Books
Bless Their Hearts Mom
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.