why i wanted to read it: because i liked the title and the look and feel of the cover (but, yall, i’m really weird about paper, so maybe don’t put too much stock into that one, yeah?), and these two things:
(from the back cover): emily portman is an up-and-coming new york city editor whose life is everything she imagined it would be. she has a job she loves and a beautiful upper west side apartment with her husband, sandy. but everything changes in one night, when sandy dies in a tragic accident, and emily is stunned to discover that her marriage was made up of lies.
okay. not the name of the dude so much, and definitely not the inclusion of tragic in describing the accident that kills him (because redundant), but…
in my favorite english class, taught by the fantastic dr. william weitzel, whose instruction i do miss — that man was a genius — we spent weeks discussing tennyson’s idylls of the king (a book i did not read, by the way… we’d just finished our mutual friend, and i was depressed because we couldn’t spend the whole semester talking about how awesome it is). but i remember weitzel’s fascination with how this one bad thing that starts out so small can become so huge and wreak such havoc, a germ inside of a beautiful bubble. sandy’s the germ; i wanted to see just how bad he could be. and yall, he’s a DICK who most definitely deserved to die.
then there’s this bit his wife says about him: sandy portman drew me in, like the draft of a manuscript where perfectly constructed sentences hinted at but didn’t yet reveal a deeper truth (page 11).
she must be some kind of a sucker. or a saint. i was curious to know which it was. turns out, it’s a little of both.
what i liked: that bit on page eleven, and…
“i can’t do this.”
i turned around and fled… but when i got to the building, the odd old man was already there shaking his head. “you really can’t outrun me, alexander.”
the sheer staggering force of it brought me to my knees, literally, my topcoat pooling around me in the frozen slush. “you can’t do this. i have so much left to do.”
“technically, that isn’t true.” yet again he looked apologetic.
my mind raced. “i have a wife. if i die it will kill her.”
“i can’t disagree with you there. that woman loves you. really loves you. too bad you didn’t think of that sooner” (pages 20-21).
i knew i was feeling sorry for myself, and i tried to swallow it back, but i hated that i was losing so much. my home. my husband. my belief in our marriage. the belief that i was loved (page 97).
no matter where we lived, my mother loved giving parties… one night, a woman arrived that i hadn’t seen in a while, a woman i had always loved. i took coats and made sure everyone had their drinks, and when i handed her a martini, she looked at me closely and then laughed.
“every time i see you, you’re more grown up,” she said, and looked around for my mother. “no wonder you don’t need a husband, lillian. you’ve got emily to take care of all the things you don’t like to do.”
my mother looked at me across the room. i couldn’t read her expression. the set of her mouth wasn’t quite a frown, but it wasn’t a smile either. “yes, she plays the perfect caretaker. but i wonder, is that what you really are, em? or are you hiding what you really want to be?” she paused. “please tell me a daughter of mine wants to be more than a housewife and a hostess” (pages 129-130).
a man who hadn’t felt something intense for me would never have held me like he was afraid of what would happen if he let go (page 152).
lillian barlow thought i should learn about currents and tsunamis, but she hadn’t thought to teach me how to swim (page 156).
emily had been my biggest victim, not because of horrible things i did, but because i had dared her to love me, and when she did i was unprepared for the enormity of that love, the responsibility — something that deep down i had known i didn’t know how to give back. but i had taken it anyway, handling it without care.
the fact was that i had married her because in her eyes i saw the man i could be. i ended up wanting a divorce because living with her every day was forcing me to see myself for who i really was, a man who didn’t have the strength to work hard and persevere and do what it took to be something beyond ordinary (page 348).
what sucked: i’m not a huge fan of the author’s writing style and wish she could’ve told the story in fewer pages.
having said that: i had read a few pages yesterday, but i basically got the thing finished in a day, which is always a plus in my book. i liked the ending. it’s kind of a weird and cheesy story, and i definitely preferred the pages told from emily’s point of view. it’s nothing stellar — definitely NOT an utter triumph like j.r. ward said — but it’s cute.