My husband and I will have been married for four years this month (together for six). And while we love each other deeply and are dedicated to preserving our vows, things are not always easy. In our relatively short years together, we've had to overcome a lot. College. Careers. Miscarriage. Infertility. Parenthood. Life is not always roses, waterfalls and unicorns. We are happy, but we have the same struggles as any other couple. One of my favorite sayings is "you have to put up with the rain if you want to see the rainbow". So, I was understandably intrigued when I was offered to review Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart.
Husband and Wife is a complex new novel about humanity and self-discovery in the midst of marital turmoil.
Sarah Price is thirty-five years old, a mom to two small children and wife to her husband, Nathan. Ever the responsible one, Sarah put her passion for poetry aside for a stable job so that Nathan could concentrate on his fiction career. She is happy - until Nathan drops a bombshell. His upcoming novel, Infidelity, is not entirely fictitious.
At first, Sarah remains stoic, trying to forget about his deep, dark confession. But as time goes on, she falls into a downward spiral, reeling from Nathan's betrayal. She begins to question all that she once held sacred and suffers from a bit of an identity crisis as she reflects upon the past, searching for clues that could have lead to this moment. Tempted by an old flame and reminiscing on her artistic twenty-something life, which revolved around Proust rather than poopy diapers, Sarah takes us on a journey of self-exploration. Plunging the depths of her soul, she searches for the most essential version of herself. Poet? Wife? Mother? Can they ever truly coexist? And most importantly, where does she go from here? Should she stay or should she go?
I found this book to be very powerful and emotional, almost unnerving at times. While I have not had to deal with the same profound crisis in my marriage, I could relate a lot of myself to Sarah. While she was not a stay-at-home mom, I understood the sacrifices she made for her family. I, too, gave up a fledgling career I loved so that I could be home with my son. There are many times I wonder if I made the right choice in doing so. Once Sarah learns of the affair, she tries to compare herself to Nathan's lover in an attempt to make sense of it all. I could see myself reacting similarly, all of my self-doubt and insecurity rising to the surface.
If I'd finished my MFA a single woman, if Nathan and I hadn't decided to put our writing first, make do with part-time jobs, let the chips fall where they may, I probably would have followed this path. If I hadn't stayed with Nathan, if I hadn't yet had children, I would have a life very much like hers. Nathan wanted to be with the sort of woman I'd be if I hadn't been married to him.I, too, ponder if I'm staying true to myself - the woman my husband fell in love with. I think about how much I've changed and sometimes I believe I would be hardly recognizable to my single, pre-baby, determined, career-minded, straight-A student self. Does my husband ever long for that Kristen back?
Sarah's feelings are so raw and believable, it's hard not to get sucked into her world of "what-ifs" and lost youth. Her simultaneous anger, sadness and confusion make for compelling introspection.
Picture a wrestling ring. Around the edge circled relief and love and anger and despair, and every so often a couple of them jumped into the ring and tangled and one of them emerged the victor, but mostly it was just them circling that blank gray ring in the center, the empty battleground.I appreciated that the novel kept it real. The ending was no fairytale with storylines tied up in a neat little knot. It is messy, like life I suppose. The conclusion is not black and white; it lies somewhere in the complicated, gray area in which we all reside.
Bottom line: Husband and Wife is a heartwrenching yet earnest tale about self-realization and fortitude in the face of deception. Any woman could walk in Sarah's shoes, although I doubt we'd be as eloquent.
BUY IT: You can find Husband and Wife online at Amazon.com or at most major book retailers nationwide. (ARV $24.99).
WIN IT: Harper Collins is kindly giving away a copy of Husband and Wife to one lucky GGG reader!
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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. I was in no other way compensated for this post. The thoughts and opinions expressed are purely mine. Your experience may differ.