The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Daré

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But I don’t want to born anything now. How will a girl like me born childrens? Why I fill up the world with sad childrens that are not having a chance to go to school? Why make the world to be one big, sad, silent place because all the childrens not having a voice?

Adunni’s mother once told her that an education is the only way for a Nigerian girl to have a ‘louding voice’. Without an education, a woman cannot speak up for herself, will never be able to support a life of her own, nor have any say at all in what happens to her body, mind and soul. After the worst day of Adunni’s life, schooling is a long forgotten dream and all hopes die. It is after a tragic loss that her father demands Adunni be a dutiful daughter and become a third wife to a much older man, the taxi driver Morufu. This is the only way she can save her family when her father cannot afford the rent anymore, bad enough he couldn’t afford to let her continue her education, but a threat looms and he could lose the roof over their heads. As a daughter, her bride-price will be enough to pay the community rent so that her brother Kayus and father won’t be kicked out. But in forcing Adunni, only fourteen years old, to marry an old fool- he is breaking a promise to her mother. She must do as she’s told, never in a million years would she see her father and little brother homeless, hungry.

Just like that she is married off and slaving away as a third wife, hated by the first, Labake. Her welcome isn’t warm, it is a cold threat, “When I finish with you in this house, you will curse the day your mother born you…”  To first wife, Adunni is a husband snatcher, there to birth him children and try to replace her. What good is a woman if she isn’t fertile? Yet, this isn’t the worst of what Adunni will suffer through. She will do her time in Morufu’s house, where he is king to long suffering women who provide him with useless daughters. She learns fast just what it means for a man to have the devil inside of him. Obey, or there will be beatings. If she runs away, then what will that mean for her family who are now well fed? Her husband is, after-all, considered a rich man in his village- who else has two cars?

Running away isn’t necessarily the road to salvation. A girl with nothing is reliant on the kindness of strangers and too easily fooled into situations as bad as the ones she escaped from. Ignorance and youth make it impossible to navigate the brutality of those who would use it to their advantage. It is a crime to run, therefore what other choice is there than to bow your head in respect, work your fingers to the bone and endure, endure all manner of abuse, endure others taking their cut from your servitude? If the man of the house comes sniffing around, you do your best to hide. Sexual advances are the least she has to fear! Sometimes it is the women who are the biggest monsters. Take your beatings, do your duty even though it will never be good enough, even though the woman of the house will take her heartbreak out on you.

Through her suffering, Adunni also uncovers the horrible stories of the girls who have walked this exact path before her. Despite the violence, Adunni remains steadfast that she must do everything in her power to find her louding voice. This requires outwitting those who have all the power, and pushing herself despite her exhaustion, fear, and the constant reminder that she is nothing and never will be. She mustn’t believe what the others tell her, that it’s best to accept her station in life and stop her flights of fancy, imaging she could ever be more than a workhorse for others. She must remember her mothers dream for her, and use her words as a guiding light in these darkest of times.

This novel is painful because it sheds light on what is happening in other countries. Girls are trafficked and forced into modern day slavery, a female child a commodity when one can’t afford to feed their other children, especially the male children. Daughters are sold to afford a better life for everyone else, and this is modern times! We take for granted the luxury of an education at it’s most elementary level. We fear having the opportunity to send our children to college, imagine not having the money for basic schooling. In this novel, Morufu’s hunger for an heir exposes how women are always the ‘curse’, the ‘failure’. His first wife’s animosity is a matter of her being ‘not right in the head’, to Morufu’s way of thinking, yet what drove her to rage, madness? Imagine the demands, the crushing weight of the pain all three wives endure, all because of old beliefs. A devil inside of him, indeed.

There is hope for Adunni through a sisterhood bond but other girls aren’t so lucky. It’s eye opening. It is a relief to know the freedoms of the Western World and yet trafficking of human beings happens here too so I am not getting on some high horse. Village life in Nigeria for Adunni is certainly not like our modern ways and superstitions still run rampant. Sacrificing goats in the hopes of birthing a son, killed for loving someone who was forced to marry another, marrying girls to old men so they can use their burgeoning fertility and have sons… it can feel like the dark ages, yet it is reality for many. Disposable girls, buried futures… but Adunni may just find her voice!

Publication Date: February 4, 2020

Penguin Group

Dutton

 

 

 

Indelicacy: A Novel by Amina Cain

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“You’re different from when I last saw you,” she said.

“I married someone rich. Is that what you mean?”

She nodded. “It agrees with you.”

Vitória has been working since she was a child of twelve years old, years spent earning her keep, working her hands raw. Now a cleaner in an art museum alongside her friend Antoinette, she yearns for the freedom to think, write, exist for more than tidying up after the rest of the world. They spend their days dreaming of a time when Vitória can write and Antoinette will finally have a man to love, though sadly she is sure if she is lucky enough to marry her suitor will be dirt poor. Despite her ragtag life, Vitória finds pleasure in the small things, like the luxury of simply reading a book before bed at night. She has never felt she deserved anything, and even after her luck turns and she marries into wealth and comfort, she still imagines she is better fit to scrub the museum floors than peruse it’s paintings. She is too ashamed to face Antoinette, embarrassed by the easy wealth- after all, marriage was always her friend’s dream, not hers!

Through marriage she tries on being someone else, with creature comforts and time on her hands, will her writing unfurl? If it’s not love, then maybe rescue is enough. She will soon learn there are many ways a woman can be confined. She is much like a bug trapped in a jar, despite her windfall of luck. She finds time just as demanding, but now it’s about entertaining guests, decorating herself in the finest dresses and jewelry (a far cry from the ugly things she and Antoinette so hated). Struggling now with her husbands lack of faith in her intelligence, missing her dear friend she didn’t even say goodbye to, suspicious of the maid Solange who makes her feel like an impostor in her new life (there is no sisterhood bonding to be had there), the dream isn’t quite as she imagined. She enjoys the lovemaking, despite not being in love but is it enough? Vitória knows all too well what many women in her former life would give to be in her shoes. But would they too be as disturbed to learn pretty, expensive shoes pinch?

She is free, but has to ask her husband for everything, much like a spoiled child. She turns to dancing classes trying to flow with her new life. Luxury starts to feel so good, something to sink into and yet happiness eludes her still. She gets inventive in the bedroom and she tries to think of ways to become more worldly, to fit better into her husband’s world. After a time she finds her friend Antoinette again, which gets her thinking more about what she truly desires. So the cogs of her mind begin turning, is this the house she should be in or is there something else out there?

This is a novel about class which affords one opportunity or not. It is an exploration of desire, hope, and the chains of dreams. What does it take to get where you want to be? It’s distasteful to imagine someone marrying without love in their heart, but what if it’s a means to escape drudgery, poverty and hope to better your life? Is it really so shocking Vitória would prefer marrying a rich man over scrubbing floors and living with the threat of the streets nipping at her heels? Yet, gilded cages have their trappings too. It’s an old story. In both lives, she is looking for escape yet it should be easier with a full belly and money. The feminist theme swims throughout the chapters, she doesn’t feel she deserves a good turn, her writing is silly to her husband (what gravity could there be in her words, this slip of a thing, a poor, little female he rescued), that in a privileged life there is still a role to dress for, expectations and the sexual exploration (goes without saying). The shame, the shame for grabbing whatever she could.

I think the struggle I had was connecting with Vitória, I liked her friend Antoinette better. I think Vitória was distant which is strange because if I were to connect with any woman in this novel it should have been her. I actually would have liked more of Solange’s story, but it’s still well written. I liked it but the only fable, to my mind, was how fast the marriage happened.

Publication Date: Febraury 11, 2020

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

 

 

Rituals to Observe Stories about Holidays from the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction by Edited by Ethan Laughman

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How was her daughter going to feel, this pale little stalk in a dark field? – Alyce Miller

Admittedly, I skip the holiday reads because they always come off as cheerful to the point of sickness. This are not those kind of stories, in this moving collection are gatherings where the character’s sanity is barely clinging, or they are witness to the collapse of others. In Color Struck by Alyce Miller, Thanksgiving for Caldonia revolves around the shock of her child’s birth. How could she question this gift from God, her husband Fred wants to know? Caldonia feels bitter and not even her family celebrating at her table can cheer her instead, all their ruckus, their chaos, is only making matters worse. Her baby just isn’t right and nothing anyone says is helping.

Morta Infinta written by David Crouse – It’s Halloween, which should be the perfect night for horror and dressing up, instead young Kristen is left with her father, who is experiencing a fear of his own, losing his wife as his marriage is declining. If she can just keep her father together, stop him from ‘simmering in his grief’, but it’s a mean feat and she’s just a kid herself, and sometimes our love isn’t enough to lift others, and sometimes she just wants to be free of adult problems. This was beautifully written and tugged on my heart, love can be such a weight for children when the grownups depend on them, forget themselves.

In The Invisibles by Hugh Sheehy disappearing and visibility, being on the outside is what guides Cynthia and her friends. It’s a club of three, until a mysterious van appears outside the skating arena. It all began with Cynthia’s mother, and the summer she ‘collected her sayings and built a personality with them.’ What we don’t know remains with us, shaping who we become, the mysteries, the memories, the horrors too.

In Faulty Predictions by Karin Lin- Greenberg elderly roommates are on a mission on Halloween night to save a young college woman from one of Hazel’s ‘visions’. But it’s ghosts of the past, not visions that are much more disturbing , an ache that feels too late to change. So maybe she is a medium or a psychic or some such nonsense… but she is blind about her own life, that Hazel.

Useful Gifts by Carole L. Glickford finds little Ruthie wanting nothing of the useful gifts her deaf mother prefers to purchase. These practical presents serving more as humiliation, no one wants what they need! Certainly not her peers, who will only laugh at paltry offerings! Ruthie is no exception either, her hungry little heart is weary of looking at the Opal girls’ and their beautiful things, their plethora of toys while she herself knows only longing. Envy, poverty, misunderstanding and love, genuine mother/daughter love is the heart of this Christmas tale.

Every story engages the reader, makes us pause and take note of our rituals, or the strange things that overtake us during holidays, or symbols that torment us- sometimes things as odd and ridiculous as a wooden mallard duck that makes us dangerous in our sleep, as Elliot discovers in Thousand- Dollar Decoy by Becky Mandelbaum. Things that can both serve to disorient and anchor us haunt the character’s tales. Sometimes it’s a wife trying her hardest to keep her husband alive by having a ready supply of objects, food and conversation, others want nothing more than to let him go. The stories are all complicated, just like every human being. They are drowning in desperation and sorrow, or haunted by loss or the threat of it, or ashamed of their disappointment in their children or parent, or struggling with motherhood or love. Often, each character is just trying their hardest to navigate their life, even if they feel like they are missing from it. You will recognize yourself, or others within’.  It’s a wonderful collection by various authors. Yes, read it!

Published September 1, 2019

University of Georgia Press

 

 

 

The Pursuit: A Novel of Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates

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Here is the mistake: to have given into happiness. She will be punished now.

Abby had hoped that becoming Mrs. Willem Zengler could save her, the damned, the cursed. Is it possible to cup happiness in both hands and drink from it? When she closes her eyes to sleep, it is always there, the bones, the horror. Love can’t chase that away, nor could protection. It always finds her, and the past won’t let her go. As a new bride she steps into traffic, maybe she was sleepwalking? She seemed so agitated! Witnesses saw something wasn’t right, her face one of horror, fear but of what? As if she were being chased.

Her husband Willem doesn’t understand, he must remain at her bedside in the ICU. What will he say if she wakes up? What if she strode into traffic by choice? What does any of this mean? He is gut sick, worse, he keeps playing back their meeting in his mind. The possibility that she has lied about her life disturbs him. This disorientation, it’s happened before, hasn’t it? He remembers too the restlessness, the whimpering cries while she was asleep, dreaming. He vowed to protect her, that is his role as her husband, but now as she lies comatose, the proof is he has failed her.

What of that parent-less past doesn’t he know? She doesn’t want to tell, she doesn’t want him to pursue her fears, her dream, her terror. She is both the victim and the perpetrator, in her memory. She carries an entourage of skeletons, she was so young, but it’s her fault, isn’t it? In order to be free, she must stop running from the nightmare. It is a ruined house, her entire childhood, a ruined house. She doesn’t want to be that orphan again with a tragic past, a past that is rotting somewhere, still undiscovered either in her mind or the tall grass, or both. What would Willem think?

She has been trying to keep herself together, to be the right sort of woman, but her happiness as a newlywed is blurring, the poison of her past is bleeding through and there isn’t an escape, not even in a handsome, tall husband. There is no shelter, no escape from the pursuit.

She is not who she professes to be, she is not fully present, and she can’t fake it anymore. Life always circles back, the past comes back for you, how like a ring.

This is a fairly short novel considering the many books I have devoted my days to reading by Oates. She has an intuition about the things we don’t talk about or present to the world, and writes about them like no other, so I am always delighted to read anything she puts to paper. This is a fast read, and you are in the confusion, the terror of Abby’s mind before the “accident” and tormented by the ghosts of her past as if you are in her shoes. It’s very much about the effects of trauma. How unfair, the things we’re forced to carry behind us, like a rotting corpse. Some childhoods aren’t about frolicking in the fields chasing butterflies, at least not in Oates world. Here children are left with blood on their hands.

Publication Date: October 11, 2019

Grove Atlantic

Mysterious Press

Mona in Three Acts: A Novel by Griet Op de Beeck

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Lying is a national sport in our family. We learned it when we were little and it’s gotten into our bodies like blood and water for other people.

Mona in three acts is an emotional journey, maybe too downhearted and crawling for some readers but it clicked with me. This is a novel about the way we are shaped by our families, not often for the best. Three Acts, part one and it is 1976 when Mona says, “They say your eyes get used to the dark”, from a tiny room in the corner of the basement. She’s in trouble again with her mother, she is not the good kid, that’s her brother Alexander’s role. The punishment feels excessive to the reader, as Mona sits in that dark space fearful of mommy’s wrath. Mona seems to be nothing but a disappointment simply for existing, a hard woman obviously as Mona is only 9, stricter with Mona “because I needed it” and then she exits the family in a tragic instant. She’ll never be able to prove to her mother she is a good girl. Her maternal Grandmother knows what the children need to recover and that is order, routine so steps in to take care of them all until… daddy gets sick of her meddling and judging.

Mona’s father wants them to meet a very special visitor even though only months have passed since their Mommy’s death, a woman named Marie who is fated to become their new mommy. Things aren’t going to get any easier. Some children get to be children and some, like Mona, have to fuss over the grown ups. Stuck in the middle with her maternal grandmother’s disgust for her father’s speedy new marriage and not wanting to invoke her father’s displeasure, she stuffs down her own feelings. Marie is emotionally demanding, quick to tears, feeling the family isn’t grateful for all the effort she puts forth as their new mother. It is here that Mona learns to fake happiness, to put her best face forward and make sure that Marie is, at all costs, appreciated. Weight is piled on her shoulders and with her father’s distant nature, this marriage and Marie’s pregnancy is more Mona’s cross to bear, already involved in nurturing her brother Alexander she is caring for the newest addition, because Marie needs rest. It’s all just too much for Marie, right? Everything has always felt like Mona’s fault, more so now. If someone is unhappy, storms off, feels sad, it’s because of her. The weight of the world.

Mona’s twenties find her feeling ‘defined by the things she is not’, though there is hope working in theater.  She becomes a ‘dramaturge’ for one of the most important theater directors. It’s a world away from her family, but somehow they still seep into her life. She accepts love in f half-measures, it’s what she learned growing up around first, her mother Agnes, her disapproving Grandma after the accident and lastly her replacement mommy Marie and her disinterested father. As for her lover Lois, why not stay with him? If his touch doesn’t set her on fire, well it’s okay. If he is self-centered, not fully in the relationship, well he must have his reasons, it’s still love. He is a writer, it demands all of his focus, attention, surely she has to understand that? Life has never cared much for the state of her well being, not even her own important work is enough to give her the confidence to define herself as something more than what her family or lover has decided she is. She has been surrounded by difficult characters, whose only constant is their theatrics, which may well have prepared her for her job. So much of her life has been packed away, much like her own mother Agnes whom really is more a faded memory, never to be spoken of as not to upset Marie. Her father has been, though, almost as absent as the dead. I know it comes off as a lot of whingeing, and many readers will think ‘hell, pick yourself up and make the life you want’, and some people are strong enough, confident enough to do it and say ‘the hell with the lot of you.’ But during the formative years, some people shrink deeper into themselves and start believing the version their family has decided they are meant to be. They learn to be pleasing, to convince themselves that any scrap is enough. They want more for others forgetting themselves in the process and you see this in how she cares for her brother Alexander and half sister Anne Marie. It’s strange how in many families, there is often one person (more if you’re unlucky) like Marie, who can strike fear into everyone, why do we succumb to such abuse, long after we have the freedom to walk away? Physical abuse is easier to recognize, it’s those that distort our versions of ourselves that are hardest to expose, especially when everyone else is so good at playing along, ‘keeping the peace’. I absolutely understand such people with their ‘toxic unhappiness’, how like a disease, a disaster.

Part three takes us to the heart of Mona’s relationship with her father. It is relief to understand the why of things, but it changes nothing of what children suffer through. For the reader as much as Mona her father has been absent, a non-entity whom only seems to hide and let others deal with the difficult situations. Mona has to learn sometime to toughen up, to demand what she deserves, because if you just keep lying down and taking it, people will never stop walking all over you. It may come late, but she may just learn to stand up and stop excusing the selfishness of others and walk on until she finds something better.  This isn’t a happy novel, Mona’s life has been a misery that she hasn’t understood how to climb out of, but there is hope for us all. If you ever wanted to understand what goes on inside the mind of a pleaser, you are privy to it from childhood on. Mona’s voice as a child was genuine, I felt so sorry for her. It’s a fiction that childhood is the happiest time in the lives of all, there are so many Monas out there, it makes you sick to think of it. I wonder, had her mother lived, though difficult she was, would Mona have rebelled eventually? Become someone else entirely? Just a thought.

Publication Date: November 12, 2019

AmazonCrossing

 

 

 

 

 

Once Removed: Stories by Colette Sartor

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But it was exhilarating to be fearful, to feel something other than an endless cycle of impatience, hope, grief, rage.

Once Removed is a collection filled with moments in our lives that threaten to spill over, overwhelmed with quiet suffering, desperate need to clutch at what is falling away. Sometimes the ugly, means things we think get exposed here, but full of raw honesty. In Bandit, Hannah finds it easier to form an intimacy with a young boarder named Rune than face the desperate hope and need on her husband’s face after a stunning loss. Sometimes it’s easier to reach for strangers when what needs to be faced is a pain like swallowing glass, our shared tragedies pushing us apart. How do we just ‘move on’, there is no timeline to healing.

In Daredevil, Grace is a sad mother trying to build a new life coming out of the storm of a broken home, fractured family. Her yearning to bond with her son, wounded and fragile is upended all the more by a sickly little girl named Noreen, whom she teaches along with her son in Sunday school. “Forgive me, Grace prayed sometimes after receiving Communion, forgive me for being thankful she’s not mine.”  All Grace wants is to lift she and her son out of this pit, this pain of ‘a family in ruins’, a shame she can’t repair the landscape of her own home but she tries, lord knows she tries. Why is her eight year old son always trying to get away from her? Why is he accepting dares, doing things that are always to his own detriment, turning away from her boundless love for him? Why can’t she protect him?

These are families with insurmountable distances between them, favorites who have jumped ship and left the least admired child behind to keep parents afloat, as in Jump. The pain of comparison that is born within families, the terror of one day creating your own family, always armed to defend oneself because no one else ever has your back. Could you, dare you attempt motherhood? Carrying the dead-horse of your own childhood, fearful you just don’t have it in you to be any good at parenting. Marney juggles the viciousness of jealousy, betrayal and need for her family to be intact, but her needs are never considered. How do you chose one over another, seems her mother certainly always chose her brother Winston first. Winston who has gone away, who holds his grudge tight. Marney’s love life isn’t any easier, as she butts heads with her boyfriend’s mother, relationships feel like a continuation of one’s own family saga. How is it some escape the madhouse and others are entrapped by it?

The stories are connected and when I got to Once Removed, it was a gut punch. How did we get here, something I think a lot of us ask about the awful moments we encounter in our lives? We try to be better people than we are, wedging ourselves into stories that were playing out before we stepped in, because everyone is anchored somewhere we are an uninvited, unwelcome guest. The push of wanting to heal what life breaks, the ache and sacrifice of parenting, the strange little families we must make in lieu of tragedy. Once Removed was a lump in my throat, being afraid when challenged, longing for things that seem forever outside the boundaries of your current reality, the cruelty of fate. Too, the silence we hold just to keep our family intact, the unsaid always a bigger fissure than what we explain.

What a collection! Families, how do we survive them? How do we survive without them? Hope that feels like disease, hope demands so much of us. Mothers and daughters, the push and pull of resentment and love, loyalties and how we divide them, the ache of it. Colette Sartor is an author to watch, she writes beautifully about the intricacies of relationships, imperfect situations and everything that follows the impact of tragedies. Yes, read this collection.

Publication Date: September 15, 2019

University of Georgia Press

 

 

 

 

The Years After You by Emma Woolf

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There’s something going on. I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but Harry’s been acting weird all evening. And there’s something else- the house feels different.

Relationships truly are a mystery, Lily’s is that much more complicated as ‘the other woman’. Desire takes us where it will, Lily knows this better than anyone when she falls in love with her boss married Harry,  twenty years her senior. He isn’t in love with his wife anymore, she isn’t giving him what he needs anymore but isn’t it always ease to poke another person’s ‘dead’ marriage with a stick, to commiserate with your lover, doesn’t it act as a spell to ward off logic? Pippa is Harry’s wife, Pippa who is in her mid forties and feels every bit of her age, who senses what she doesn’t know, feels Harry pulling away, checked out emotionally, going through the motions.  She knows something is off but isn’t seeing the whole puzzle, not yet. Isn’t sure of her doubts, but they are growing. Inside Harry resents Pippa, posting about their ‘happy’ family on social media, his marriage feels like a web he is caught in, desperate to understand where the carefree, beautiful woman she once was went. Of course here I think, she grew older, life’s demands pull at us, in any long term relationship, married or not, it’s hard to keep things fresh, the intimacy in living together pulls us close but too, it can be very unromantic, that’s life. When you have children, of course attention is divided and time is harder to corral.

Harry wants to be a good man, he loves his children but he feels alive again with Lily. He fell for the much younger Lily against his will, it isn’t some cheap thrill for him, and it’s taking an emotional toll. This love he has for her is enough to risk being caught, bringing her into his own home! All I could think was, does he want a confrontation, in a sense forcing Lily into solidifying her feelings, their relationship? This time they get away with it, but Harry doesn’t want to get away with it. He would give up everything for her. For Harry there must be a painful ending to reach the joyful beginning if he is to have Lily in his life, he must give up his wife, but what about his boys? Harry does torture himself, Lily soon becomes all he can feel!

Pippa is tracking Harry’s lies, people don’t lie unless there are secrets. He is no longer making an effort in their family. She has become the invisible wife, it can’t possibly be her insecurities, she sees him on the phone late at night, he is more often than not late from work, she can no longer ignore what is right in front of her face. But there is fear too in facing the ugly, brutal truth of no longer being wanted, loved. When the confrontation comes, he won’t be able to blame her, to tell her she is just ‘overeating’. Her words drift over cyberspace, her only comfort is through the followers of her blog who check on her. Just how much of her life, her marriage to Harry has been a lie? Is she to see things end? How much time does she need to get used to the idea of divorce? She isn’t the one who wants her family destroyed! She didn’t sign up for that. Should she just remain on the periphery of her own marriage hoping against hope that Harry will love her again, should she allow herself to die inside because he is unhappy and just get used to the idea?

Lily has allowed her life to revolve around her beloved Harry and stealing any time she can with him, always at his convenience, because it isn’t easy for a married father to get away. But what will happen if/when she has him fully to herself? Isn’t there safety too in a relationship that offers you freedom, the refreshing comfort of distance? What happens when you realize you don’t fully know the man you’ve entered into an affair with? That you aren’t privy to the same man as his wife is?

We stumble into love, fall in and out of it… it’s always thrilling at the start, when the dew hasn’t been wiped from our eyes, before we’ve uncovered flaws, and with affairs like Harry and Lily’s, you are not fully engaged in each other’s lives, there is protection in the bubble of your love. It’s not being tested in the way of family, friends, children and outside influences chipping away at your love for each other. Some do stay when they fall out of love in their own marriages, be it for the children, due to finances, their own inertia, their cowardice, out of loyalty and sometimes they fall back in love. Sometimes it’s not about your spouse, it’s your own funk that distorts reality.  Even if you leave for another woman/man, if it’s internal suffering, that goes with you too.

In Lily’s case, her sister tells her ‘you’re the free agent’ but in reality, that’s not true when you get entangled in another’s life, and allow them to help you. You have involved yourself, there is always the risk of it all coming crashing down when other people can be hurt.

For Harry he doesn’t see a solution, stay… leave… nothing is as it could be. He carries a heavy depression, but maybe it isn’t about Lily or Pippa maybe an affair is a catalyst. He is conflicted to the point of breakdown. His emotions are running away from him, he isn’t maintaining his calm, and there will be consequences for them all.

This is more about what remains in the aftermath of an affair. How things fall apart, or come together, what happens to those left behind to salvage whatever they can from the person they loved. It is an exploration of where we place blame and how we move on. I feel the story somehow is more about Lily, particularly towards the middle when we learn about her own abandoned family and her father Claude. Part two feels like another life entirely, and maybe that’s the point.

Can you answer the question “why do some people just pick up an leave”? Hmmm. Human beings are complicated wrecks sometimes. We often go against our better judgement and let our hearts take the lead. Love is a risk like anything else, even the best relationships can wither and die as much as the most ill advised ones can surprise us all and last a lifetime. Love can be found in the most unexpected places, even after you’ve lost hope.

Publication Date: October 8, 2019

Amberjack Publishing