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Vow: A Memoir of Marriage (and Other Affairs) Hardcover – February 12, 2013

3.6 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

“I was born on the windy side of the personality island,” writes news reporter Plump in this sobering memoir of serial infidelity. “If it’s blowing a gale of emotion, that is where I want to be.” This tendency toward the theatrical might explain, at least in part, why not long after she married her husband Bill, Plump began to cheat. Here she revisits her affairs and examines the fallout that occurred in their wakes. Among her many lovers: Tommy, the sexy twin brother of a friend’s fiancé; Steven, tan, ruggedly handsome—and married; and Terry, a talented marksman “with eyes as blue as an acetylene torch.” Plump’s marriage was one of equal-opportunity betrayal. Turns out, Bill had a second family, including a baby he fathered, living just a mile from his and Plump’s home in the Pennsylvania farmlands. Plump’s discovery of that affair was the deal-breaker. After decades of forgiveness, the couple finally called it quits. This relentlessly self-indulgent confessional grows tiresome at times, but Plump’s candor is impressive. --Allison Block


“Vow is brilliant from both a literary and a psychological perspective. It certainly takes emotional honesty to write with such candor about the drama and allure of one's personal adulterous experiences, but this book is more that simply honest -- it is also searingly well told. A tremendous achievement.” ―Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love and Committed

“Crack open Vow and prepare to be quickly carried away by Plump's vivid prose, so-close-you-can-hear-it voice, and suspenseful storytelling skills. You'll find yourself sneaking a page or two in the elevator, during a walk from point A to B, and trying to avoid drifting off to sleep so you can turn one more page... A thought-provoking, compelling read. The events, which Plump describes with amazing clarity and detail, are by turns gut-wrenching and addictive...The fact that such events are 'unimaginable' is one reason that I think every woman should read this memoir.” ―Redbook

“[A] jaw-droppingly frank but ultimately instructive post-mortem on [Plump’s] 18-year marriage…While literature has always taken adultery as one of its great themes...nonfiction books on the subject tend to be sanctimonious accounts of political or celebrity scandals... In addition to being strikingly well-written, what separates Vow from most personal accounts of adultery is Plump's forthrightness about her less-than-chaste record as a wife. It's rare to see infidelity portrayed in the round ― from the perspective of both betrayer and betrayed…[A] gutsy, intelligent examination of vows and the tantalizing allure of the illicit.” ―NPR.org

“[Plump's] memoir is like a conversation with a super-smart pal.” ―Ladies Home Journal

“Plump gradually reveals the degree of self-deception [these] two married people practiced over many years, as mismatched needs and gnawing mistrust fed their mutual appetite for risk, sex, and guilt... Plump manages in this frank memoir to fully capture her life --[as a] woman, wife, and mother who leaves nothing unexamined and has nothing left to lose.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Metaphors and similes and original descriptions can't defend the reader against the sheer pain of broken vows. Wendy Plump creates a beautifully wrought word painting from which I, for one, came away with a new slant on ‘marital vows.' Couples should read this book--and then write their own.” ―Carly Simon

Vow is so tender and sharp….This book is a real gift.” ―Elizabeth Weil, author of No Cheating, No Dying


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608198235
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608198238
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,183,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This memoir looks at the slow coming apart of a marriage that was years in the making. After the initial glow of new found love and all its excitement, the author fell into multiple affairs which really seemed like temporary diversions to her. The reasoning here being that an affair is a blip on the radar of life that has become tedious, while marriage is a commitment and is supposed to endure. This marriage rolls along through mutual infidelities and eventual children until the author is informed by a friend that there is something she really needs to know about her husband. Within a mile of the family home her husband has a new family which includes a child. The signs were there and made sense once the author had reality give her a hard slap in the face as she looked at credit card receipts, etc. the author even managed to think that she could adapt to a new dynamic that included another child and the marriage would continue.
In what has to be a very painful and embarrassing outing of an all too personal life that included details that were intimate to the point of being cringe worthy at times to me, Wendy Plump dissects her marriage and the reasons why marriages lose their luster and lead the marital partners to cheat. I'd lie if I said I didn't find this interesting. With a heavy dose of hindsight, Plump does a terrific job at looking at infidelity and the whole dynamic of cheating.. While I don't condone cheating, I get it. It's something that happens especially when people get careless or reckless or just tired of the complacency and boredom of their lives. Hormones don't get automatically shut down once a couple gets married, bored, lazy, and lax.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not an easy book to read from an emotional sense but an incredibly well written and captivating one that I think everyone in a relationship should read. The book is the retelling of the authors journey through her and her husbands various relationships during the marriage. Plump doesn't make excuses for her actions or place blame on her husband. The story is told in a very matter of fact kind of way, action and reaction.
The authors writing style really draws you in. I felt for her and at the same time I was screaming at her, "Again! Really, you're going to have another affair?!" Almost as if she were a friend. Through all of the affairs on both sides, the author wanted to keep the marriage together. It's interesting how she can look at both sides of an affair, from the standpoint of the cheater and the one being cheated on.
The book needs to be read with an open mind. We are all flawed and the author is very brave to put her flaws on display and in print for the world to see. I would recommend this book to anyone who has gone through this situation or to anyone who is considering starting a relationship outside of their current one. It's an eye opener!
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Format: Hardcover
This book is remarkably devoid of insight, which is all the more remarkable because the author was in therapy for decades, right from the start of her marriage.

Early in the marriage, when she began disclosing her own extramarital affairs to her husband, he refused to discuss anything and swept it all under the rug. And she tolerated his rugsweeping.

Fast forward 18 years into the marriage. Husband and wife are continuing as before, her unconscious and he rugsweeping, only now he has a secret second home in which he keeps a secret other woman of many years duration and now a secret other child. In fact, if not in law, he has a secret second wife. Now his betrayal of her, his first wife and mother of some of his children, is not just sexual and emotional but also financial, social, and familial. Once this rather open secret at long last is revealed to her by others, he again sweeps it under the rug and simply divorces her.

She describes only the shallow surface of her life. Did she ever experience it any more deeply than that? Is she really as numb as she seems? Her denial is palpable. As she describes them, her affairs were intense but certainly not intimate, and she says that suited her. She describes herself as unaware, even oblivious, and when not then floating outside her body, in a fog, nothing real. The clinical term for this, which she does not use, is dissociation: specifically depersonalization and derealization. She does use the term compartmentalization: dissociation is compartmentalization in the extreme.

A better title for this book would be the very ironic saying "Relationship Broken, Add More People".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I am interested in relationships and in what makes people tick. There are a number of "I was betrayed!" memoirs out there, but I'm not so interested in that fairly one-dimensional story (how I was crushed, how I healed, blah blah blah). This memoir was interesting as it explores the author's own affairs as well as her reaction to her husband's, and made some interesting observations about couples along the way. I liked these observations quite a bit - for instance, that there are some people who would cheat (though they may not) and some who simply wouldn't; that there is no explaining to whom you will be attracted but that novelty is a big part of it, that betrayal is no less devastating if you've done it yourself and "get" why it happens. I didn't love the author's voice particularly, she correctly self-identifies as highly dramatic; which makes it not all that surprising that she would write a confessional memoir. I suspect that would annoy some readers. I didn't think she was super insightful or thoughtful. I'll be interested to see how many hostile reviews she gets for her behavior alone. This wasn't amazing, but I'm glad I read it.
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