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Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story Paperback – Bargain Price, March 2, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 233 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gillies left her recurring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to follow her poet-professor husband to Oberlin, Ohio, when he got a tenure-track position in the English department. She threw herself into caring for her two sons, renovating an old house and teaching drama part-time—but her idyllic life was shattered when her husband decided he didn't want to be married anymore—or at least, not married to Gillies. (He subsequently wed a fellow professor.) Gillies brings both humor and sorrow to the narration. Despite a tendency to trail off at the end of sentences, which leaves listeners straining to hear the completion of a thought, she gives a brave performance that will have her audience cheering as she pluckily reassembles the pieces of her broken life. A Scribner hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 23). (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Fans of Eat, Pray, Love will devour this book."

— John Searles, MSNBC.com

“A memoir so raw you feel like it's your best friend telling you her story.”

Glamour, “Must-Read”

“A smart, rueful memoir of love, betrayal and survival.”

O, the Oprah magazine

“You gobble up [Happens Every Day], rooting for the engaging Gillies? A guilty pleasure for readers."

USA Today

“I couldn't help but admire her bravery in exposing the dark side of her seemingly perfect life in such a good-humored, self-effacing way?. You feel nothing but deepest sympathy.”



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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (March 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439126623
  • ASIN: B004E3XDDU
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,021,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mary Lins TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I confess that I seek out stories of heartbreaking betrayal. I'm like the ambulance chaser of these kinds of sagas because I've been through it and I'm compelled to hear others' tales. It make me feel not alone in my pain, but I also like to see if the writer "got it right", the unimaginable pain of trusting someone completely and thinking things are fine and then in a matter of seconds having your entire world shattered. The shock alone could kill ya. If this has not happened to you, I'm so glad for you and this book will help you understand what a friend or family member is going through. If you HAVE had it happen to you, this book might dredge it all up and make you sad, but it also might uplift you to know that others know how you feel. It really does happen every day.

So it was that I saw that Isabel Gillies had written a book "Happens Every Day" about how her husband suddenly left her and their two very young sons, and I was compelled to read it. I'm very glad I did. It's wonderfully told; honest and touching. Gillies doesn't wallow in it, and she offers no excuses. She is honest about herself and all the red flags she missed. She even muses on why people in love miss or ignore red flags and clear warning signs...we all do it. It must have something to do with what love does to the chemistry in our brain. Later, after the boom has been lowered on you, the signs are all there - clear as day - only to make you feel like an even bigger fool.

Gillies paints a detailed cringe-inducing description of how she unwittingly befriended and sponsored the woman who "ran off with" her husband. We readers are uncomfortable while reading these passages because we already know that this woman is going to betray her, and we can't warn her...it's too late.
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I really, really wanted to like this book but two chapters in, I found the author's tone so annoying that I couldn't take it. The phoniness and constant detailing of the haute bourgeois lifestyle and stressing how genteel it all was is just TOO MUCH. Not that there's truly anything that justifies leaving your wife and kids, but my God, could this BE any more stereotypical. Of course the hot professor is up to no good. Of course the catalogue-perfect organic hippie lifestyle is a sham. Most of us figured this out when we were college sophomores. If I had to read one more detail about cheese souffles, summering in Maine, and flower arrangements in Mason jars, I felt like I would start sympathizing with the husband. I really regret not liking this book but I found it frankly irritating.
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Format: Hardcover
Perhaps the academics in this book could have written a more lyrical tome, but this book is heartfelt and poignant at times. Gilles is not the best of writers---she uses too much slang and cliche--but she writes from the heart and that goes a long way. It is a story of a reasonably good marriage that falls apart in a matter of weeks, and for that alone makes it good reading.
As an academic myself, I find it easy to despise the faux-French "other woman." For once she lands Gilles' husband, she becomes a spousal hire at Oberlin and does not have to search for another job. She avoids having to settle for teaching four sections of freshman composition a semester at a third tier university. In my experience, that alone for any fledgling professor is enough to break up a marriage. Now she can concentrate on some drab 18th century research that few outside academia will ever read. The only problem is she is married to a man who clearly has a fear of commitment;he left his pregnant first wife and left his second wife with two very small children for other women. So in one way she is like Sylvia Plath who was married to the poet Ted Hughes, the womanizer who was/is despised by millions, mostly academic women. Unlike Plath, she is like the many women who go after married men, who do not respect women enough to stay away. She may rationalize it as fate, finding her soul mate, something obscurely French about joy, life, love-- but the truth be told, she went after another woman's husband and took him, and even when Gilles begged her to stop, she did not.

For him: he is an average poet and scholar who is at a college with no graduate students. He is married to a woman with a cloying French accent who grew up in Vermont of all places. This may ultimately be a nightmare for a Harvard Phd.
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I've finished the book. It took me three days. I had to pause now and then because there was too much to take in at certain emotional points along the way.

Although worthy of many pages, I've decided a multiple page review won't work.

Critics I think are missing the point. Isabel would probably agree with you that she was too "this," or too "that," and she shouldn't have been such a doormat. (Perhaps her ex-husband can use that line in his next poetry class.) This book was all about the bare honest truth, and how much she loves her family.

I am from Isabel's tribe. Episcopalian. Summer place in New England. People in my family say "humdinger." My father used to rake leaves, even though he could have paid someone to do it. Readers have no idea, given the WASP value for privacy and fabricating cool exteriors, how much writing this book must have cost Isabel.

From Isabel's view of the world, it should be enough to work hard, make commitments and keep them, trust the people close to you, love, tell the truth, and do your best. I happen to agree with her, and I admire her for her for this and what she is willing to pay to try and make it so.

A powerful example is when Isabel gets on her knees in the snow in front of the woman taking her family, and begs her to stop. Isabel's values don't allow for the existence of someone so utterly heartless as to put her own needs before those of a young woman, her family, her children, and her marriage. Surely if this other woman understood what is going on, she would back away.
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