Monday, July 10, 2017

Two Novels About Marriage

Reprinted from the Citizen:

Marriage is a topic that has been covered extensively in books, from self-help books to romance novels to literary fiction to mysteries and thrillers. Today’s column reviews two novels with the theme of marriage, albeit with a slightly different take.

In Dennis Lehane’s newest novel “Since We Fell”, Rachel Childs is a local TV reporter sent to cover Haiti after a disaster. Her reporting earns her a chance at a network TV assignment, but when she has an on-air breakdown, she loses her opportunity and her husband leaves her. 

She becomes a recluse, rarely leaving her apartment. She reconnects with Brian, a man she knew as a private investigator while looking for information about her birth father. Brian rescues her from a man in a bar, and they begin to date.

Brian is patient and loving with Rachel, and soon they marry. One day Rachel sees Brian coming out of hotel in Boston when he was supposed to be in London, and she begins to question if he is the man she believes him to be.

The beginning of this fast-paced novel hooks you right away. “On a Tuesday in May, in her thirty-seventh year, Rachel shot her husband dead. He stumbled backward with an odd look of confirmation on his face, as if some part of him had always known she’d do it.” How can you not read on?

“Since We Fell” packs so much in this fast-paced novel. At first it’s about a young woman looking for her father. Then the story moves to cover Rachel’s breakdown and her subsequent marriage to a seemingly wonderful man. The last third of the book is a straight-out thriller, as Rachel uncovers the truth about her husband and fights to stay alive.

Fans of “The Girl On The Train” and “In A Dark, Dark Wood” will love “Since We Fell”, and I liked it better than those; Lehane is a superb writer who knows how to write terrific characters while ratcheting up the tension.

For a more optimistic view of marriage, Deanna Lynn Sletten’s new novel, “One Wrong Turn” tells the story of Jess and Clay. The book begins when Jess is rushing home and has a car accident that results in her becoming comatose. 

Jess is living with their two daughters, twelve year-old Maddie and seven year-old Jilly, working to open a bed and breakfast in a home left her by her grandmother. Clay is summoned to the hospital, where he sees his comatose wife and two daughters for the first time in two years.

The story goes back and forth in time, beginning with the first meeting of Jess, a waitress in beach bar and Clay, a guitarist in a rock band. At first Jess wants nothing to do with a musician, but Clay wins her over.

They marry, and Jess becomes pregnant with Maddie. Clay’s career begins to take off, which means he is off touring with bands, in addition to becoming a highly respected and in-demand studio musician. Musicians like to drink, and Clay begins to drink too much.

Jess puts up with Clay’s drinking until she returns home one day and finds him passed out when he is supposed to be caring for their baby. Clay’s attempts at sobriety include stints at rehab facilities, and he manages to stay sober for periods of times.

Eventually Jess has had enough and she takes the girls and moves away when she inherits her grandmother’s house. They build a life for themselves, and make friends, until the accident.

Maddie is old enough to remember good and bad times with her father, but young Jilly doesn’t remember much. Clay vows to the girls that he will care for them, but Maddie fears they will be abandoned by Clay once again. In addition, there is the question of whether Jess will ever come out of her coma. 

“One Wrong Turn” is the story of a marriage that tries to overcome the illness of addiction, and what happens when the unimaginable occurs. It’s beautifully written, and the characters, particularly Maddie and Clay, are ones that readers will identify and empathize with.

Sletten’s last novel, “Finding Libbie” was about love, marriage and mental illness, and she approaches her books with such sensitivity, I admit to tearing up more than once while reading her. Fans of Elin Hilderbrand's books should seek out Deanna Lee Sletten’s books.

Since We Fell” by Dennis Lehane- A
Published by Ecco
Hardcover, $26.99, 432 pages

One Wrong Turn” by Deanna Lynn Sletten- A-
Published by Lake Union Publishing

Trade paperback, $14.95, 204 pages

1 comment:

  1. I love Lehane's work and look forward to Since We Fell.