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Husband and Wife: A Novel Hardcover – May 4, 2010
"The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, The Lying Game. Pre-order today
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From Publishers Weekly
Some confessions are better left unuttered, as Sarah Price learns in Stewart's (The Myth of You and Me) solid latest. When novelist Nathan Bennett confesses to his wife, Sarah, right before a friend's wedding that he slept with another woman (his novel is titled Infidelity), Sarah's concerns shift from whether the dress she plans to wear to the wedding makes her look fat to what she will do about her future and that of their two young children, Mattie and Binx. What follows is an unflinching look at what happens when one's identity is shattered, and what-ifs and past choices come back to haunt the present. Chief among these what-ifs: Rajiv, an old friend nursing a long-unrequited crush on Sarah, and Sarah's longing to be seen once again as a poet. Stewart's graceful prose and easy storytelling pull the reader into caring about what happens to the struggling heroine while exploring the many gray areas of life and marriage. The conclusion, while true to Sarah, is surprising but not unrealistic. (May)
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“Stewart’s book does what real life doesn’t always allow: It gives the woman a voice.” (Raleigh News & Observer)
“Stewart creates a crisis of faith where adult reality collides with youthful dreams. The writing is tactile, elemental, even comical, providing readers with a situation that could so easily be their own.” (Library Journal (starred review))
“Heartbreaking and darkly humorous. . . . [Stewart] is an acute social observer.” (BookPage.com)
“Leah Stewart’s brilliantly written novel Husband and Wife is a deeply human book: funny, tender, smart, self-aware. When you read it you will laugh, you will cry, you will recognize others, you will recognize yourself.” (Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Castaways and Barefoot)
“Hilarious, heartbreaking, and wise, Husband and Wife is a novel to savor. Stewart’s bright heroine is faced with an impossible choice—and I couldn’t put the book down until I’d followed her story to the end.” (Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Love Stories in This Town)
“This narrative voice is so alive and specific that it moves past the idea of ‘narrative voice’ to become a human woman speaking to you. . . . I cherish this wry, funny, aching, intelligent character and this book!” (Marisa de los Santos, author of Belong to Me and Love Walked In)
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Top customer reviews
With the identity crisis Sarah's going through, the disconnect also makes sense to me. She loves her children more than anything, but not every mother, or father, has an instant bond where every explosive poop episode is "adorable!". Come on, babies are adorable, but they are also gross and disgusting. Even when they're yours. More so, because YOU have to clean it up. As someone who has often been the Alpha in relationships - the planner, the person who takes charge to get things done, I could relate to her struggles and the "I don't have time to snuggle, there's stuff to get done!"
It's not for everyone, but I think Sarah is a character that will be much harder for some to relate to than others, but I think it's worth a shot (especially since there are people like her out there). Maybe ask yourself what her life must be like prior to the opening of the story for her to be in that place, what the unwritten turmoil must be? Because she's not a monster - she clearly loves, feels hope and loss. I think that's part of what the book explores - the events, discussed and not, that turned the idealistic grad school poet into the frantic mom who doesn't coo over everything her kids do. That's her husband's role - he "gets to be" the stay at home dad, she has to be the responsible one putting food on the table. She's not who she thought she would become... am I? Are any of us who we thought we would turn into? Would our younger selves be proud of who we are now?
Those are the kinds of questions I found myself asking during this book, as a careful and thoughtful reader. Not everyone will walk away with the same interpretation, but I think those themes are definitely there and worth exploring.
"Husband and Wife" is an insightful look at the mind of a mother, who is both a working wife and a former poet. She can no longer summon the energy that it takes to compose a poem. Her husband, Nathan, is receiving acclaim for her first novels. The narrator, Sarah Price, is exhausted as any working mother often is though Nathan is a very good stay-at-home dad. Adding to her exhaustion is her frustration of working in a job so far from her college dreams.
When Nathan drops the other shoe, that he has had an affair at a writers' conference, Sarah's world explodes. She cannot fathom how he could do this to her or why he would bluntly tell her so. She comes apart at the seams.
The novel follows Sarah's trail of despair in Sarah's voice. Sarah can be a prickly opponent. Her use of irony is misunderstood by her co-workers and her friends. She comes off as irascible, easy to anger. She is still carrying some postpartum weight, so her self-image is at a low point.
Even through Sarah's angry eyes, the reader can see that Nathan is worth hanging on to, if she can find a way to forget and forgive. Sarah goes a little wild, driving recklessly at night, playing hooky from her job, and journeying to Texas with the kids to see if a former college love interest is still interesting.
Stewart's chapters give Sarah time to ruminate in a stream-of-consciousness style. Her mind skips from analyzing statements ("the sentence was an amphibrach") to long sentences that are poems in themselves (He watched the sunset broadcasting its undeniable beauty, beams of light streaming out from behind distant trees, and I knew he was thinking that we were soon to lose that perfect light, and I wondered if he would say so out loud.) Can you picture the latter sentence as a poem?
With this combination of a marriage in misery and an interesting narrator, Stewart quickly took me into Sarah's world. By making even the baby, Binx, into his own bubbly personality, Stewart gives the reader characters to love and hope for their future. It all lies in Sarah's hands. She can take Nathan back or leave him completely. The story of her choice is the story of a "Husband and Wife."
Beautiful book, well written, well plotted! And tonight I start "The History of Us." I cannot wait.