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Friday, May 13, 2011

You're Bringing Me Down, Man

(Image from Indiebound)

When Sarah Price's novelist husband sells a book early critics are calling the best of his career, she's thrilled for him. Sarah's spent the last four years working so Nathan could write full-time, keeping the kids under control so they wouldn't kill his focus, and giving up her own dreams of publishing in order to make his come true. His success is her success. Even the title of the book - Infidelity - doesn't faze her. Until Nathan confesses that his soon-to-be bestseller is not entirely fictional.

Nathan's revelation sends Sarah reeling. Even though he swears the affair was a one-time deal and that the other woman means nothing to him, Sarah's not sure how to react. His confession makes her doubt everything she knows to be true about her husband, her marriage, and herself. As she grapples with Nathan's trangression, Sarah tries to remember the woman she was before marriage, before motherhood, before real life began. Startled to realize how much she's changed, Sarah embarks on a trip into the past that could change everything about her future.

It's difficult to summarize Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart because, truly, not a whole lot happens. Nathan confesses. Sarah reacts. And reacts. And reacts. And reacts. Then she decides - once and for all - whether or not she should stay with her husband. The rest of the story consists of Sarah's ruminations on life, love, marriage, maternity, idealism and identity. While some of these reflections are poignant, even poetic, none of them really endeared me to Sarah. In fact, I found her weak and whiny. It wasn't until Chapter Fifteen, which finds her struggling to deal with two needy children in a crowded McDonald's, that I finally felt some connection to her. That prolonged disconnect, coupled with the book's overall gloominess, made Husband and Wife a real downer for me. I took to calling it "the depressing book" because, despite Stewart's skilled prose, that's what this book was - completely depressing. The subject: depressing. The characters: depressing. Sarah's tedious thoughts: depressing. Frankly, I couldn't wait to finish the book and move on. 'nough said.

(Readalikes: Um, I can't think of anything. Suggestions?)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for strong language, depictions of illegal drug use, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Husband and Wife from the generous folks at Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours, for whom this review was written.


  1. Guess i will have to avoid this book else i'll go emo

  2. I really enjoyed this book, but I can see where you are coming from. Sarah does react quite a bit, and does kind of go off the deep end. I think it was that she was SO surprised by the whole thing. I really liked Leah's writing and loved those parts that I could identify with (the McDonald's scene that you mentioned.)

    Thanks for your honest review.

  3. Darn, I'm sorry this was such a downer for you. Hope your next read is better!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  4. Well, I can't decide what I'd think of this book. I got a little emotionally invested just in your review! Maybe I should just avoid it.

  5. Mama - I know, right?

    Teresa - Oh, I agree that Sarah's reaction was realistic. It just got on my nerves after awhile. I wanted more action. I also wanted Sarah to be more likable - I actually found Nathan's character more sympathetic. I'm not sure why ...

    Heather - You win some, you lose some. Not a big deal :)

    Jenny - Ha! Well, it is an emotional book. It's well-written, too, just depressing and not very exciting.


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