I am privileged to be a part of the blog tour for Holly Shumas' book Love and Other Natural Disasters, which is being hosted by Miriam with Hatchette Book Group
Author: Holly Shumas
Genre: Women's fiction; relationships
Grade: D = 18 and up (some sexual content and language)
Eve is eight months pregnant and in the middle of a Thanksgiving celebration when she discovers that her husband Jonathan has developed an intimate relationship with a woman over the past year. Jonathon asserts his innocence (an affair involves physical intimacy, and he didn't have any), while Eve feels deeply betrayed by the emotional connection he shared with someone else. What Jon has done seems so terrifyingly out of character that Eve finds herself questioning her entire reality. Did she ever really know Jon at all? Was their happiness together a lie? Is emotional intimacy more forgivable than sexual intimacy? And can their marriage survive
Holly Shumas has managed to delve deeply and fairly into the confusing and difficult relationship of marriage in her book Love and other natural disasters. I have to admit that for the first part of the book I was slightly annoyed. The reaction of the wife to finding out that her husband had been involved in an intimate, though not physical, relationship with another women, though warranted, seemed very harsh and over reactive to me. She seemed to be placing all of the blame on him without looking at her own involvement in possible problems in their marriage, she wouldn't even listen to his side of the story. I thought that I was in for another man bashing novel, sure sometimes men deserve to be bashed, but let's at least hear their side of the story before beating them down.
Later in the book, however, I was pleased to see many aspects of the marriage and dynamics between the spouses explored. The husband's point of view was put forth well enough that I could understand and sympathize with him, maybe not condoning what he had done, but seeing the personality and motivators which had led him to where he was. It was great to see him be able to work through things, keep the blame which was his, and yet explore the issues in their relationship which effected him. Also, the wife was able to look more objectively at her own actions, and see that she was not spotless herself. Though I did have some issues with her actions toward the end of the book. She does something, that to me, would definitely need to be discussed, but doesn't even seem to be brought up with her husband. And I am not sure that this as a catalyst would bring a lasting commitment.
Without spoiling too much of the plot, let me just say that I was left with hope for marriage in general. Yes, it is the hardest relationship work you will ever do. Yes, we do horrible things which hurt each other deeply. Yes, there is often just cause for ending things. But if we take responsibility for our actions and honestly discuss our feelings, nearly any marriage can be great. It is a choice.
About the Author:
My first novel, Five Things I Can’t Live Without, was a lighthearted look at the neurotic art of self-sabotage. The central premise was that my character, Nora, was looking for problems where there really weren’t any; she was thinking herself right out of happiness. For my second book, Love and Other Natural Disasters, I decided the main character might still have a whiff of the neurotic but I’d really give her something to worry about.
When I first sat down for the as-yet untitled Book #2, I didn’t know what Eve would find out (I didn’t actually know her name was Eve), but I knew it would happen on Thanksgiving. An affair seemed obvious (too obvious) until I realized it was an emotional affair rather than a physical one. The reason I’m using language like “find out” and “realized” is because for me, the process of writing novels is like that. There’s nothing better than that moment when your character surprises you.
As a practicing marriage and family therapist, the issues of emotional intimacy and fidelity are close to my heart. I’m convinced that one of the toughest things in the world is remaining emotionally connected to another person for the long haul, and it’s a subject that I love exploring in my writing, in my practice, and in my life. It’s a subject I’ll be exploring on this site, too, in both the “FAQ” and “Musings” sections.
If you’d like me to attend your book club, please contact me directly here. For press materials, review copies, and any other publicity-related requests, please contact my publicist at Grand Central Publishing, Elly Weisenberg, at Elly.Weisenberg@hgbusa.com. Thanks so much for visiting.'
Visit Holly at her website: http://www.hollyshumas.com/
Read my review of Holly Shumas' other novel Five Things I Can't Live Without
Visit other participants of the blog tour: