The Silent Wife – A.S.A. Harrison

Monogamy wasn’t designed for men. Or men weren’t designed for monogamy. – A.S.A. Harrison, The Silent Wife

  • Silent Wife copy1Title: The Silent Wife
  • Author: A.S.A. Harrison
  • ISBN: 0143123238  (ISBN13: 9780143123231)
  • Series: Stand Alone
  • Published: June 25th 2013 by Penguin Books
  • Format: Trade Paperback/Audiobook
  • Genre/s: Literary Fiction
  • Source: Purchased/Library
  • Rating: A

The Silent Wife is a magnificent novel, a psychological thriller of the highest caliber with the emphasis on psychological. As you follow the characters to a conclusion that is an inevitable and ephemeral as day following the dark of night the reader cannot avoid becoming completely immersed in the lives of these flawlessly created yet deeply damaged characters.

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event.

Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept.

Almost immediately after commencing The Silent Wife I too felt that I would have been compelled to kill Todd, what with his casual disregard of his wife. Although his friend Dean and Natasha, the other woman in this tale, may not have been safe from the carnage either. Or perhaps I am just a bloodthirsty reader?

Murder is barely a word in her vocabulary, a concept without meaning, the subject of stories in the news having to do with people she doesn’t know and will never meet.

Like Jodi’s assertion at the beginning of The Silent Wife, the idea of murder is a very abstract distant concept, however as the story progresses the reader slowly becomes aware that this perfect seeming companion is sulfurically angry and the idea of snuffing out the source of the problem becomes more and more plausible.

Her friends of course know her as Jodi Brett, but to most people she is Mrs. Gilbert. She likes the name and title; they give her a pedigree of sorts and act as an all-around shorthand, eliminating the need to correct people or make explanations, dispensing with awkward terminology like life partner or significant other.

What I found most compelling was the thought of what would bring a person to kill their spouse? Why not just get a divorce? Or in this case simply leave, as Jodi and Todd live in a state that does not recognize common law unions, but that would negate the story now wouldn’t it?

There are lots of reasons why a woman stays with a man, even when she’s given up on changing him and can predict with certainty the shape that the rest of her life with him is going to take.

Haven’t we all fantasized about a scenario like this? I have pondered murder, truly I would challenge anyone who says that they haven’t. This being said I hope nothing ever happens to my husband, as statements like that usually come back to haunt people in the movies.

It simply doesn’t matter that time and time again he gives the game away, because he knows and she knows that he is a cheater, and he knows that she knows, but the point is that the pretense, the all-important pretense must be maintained, the illusion that everything is fine and nothing is the matter.

Jodi is a psychotherapist, which brings to mind the question of how she could dismiss the significance of Todd’s infidelity and her blase seeming reaction to it. Both Todd and Jodi are so adept at repressing real emotion that I found it darkly humorous that Todd’s reaction, almost his first thought, after realizing that he will have to tell Jodi the consequences of his affair with Natasha is “where will he be eating dinner?”

Simultaneously obscene and off-putting was Todd’s relationship with Natasha, his life long friend Dean’s daughter, his reminiscences of her childhood and his recognition of her as a possible sexual partner just barely skirted pedophilia. Almost childlike in his expectation that the world would continue to unfold in the manner to which it always had I found myself flabbergasted at his naivety.

What does he mean he has no choice? It’s just like Todd to dramatize his circumstances, relinquishing responsibility, pretend that it’s not him running his life but a force beyond his control – a way he has of excusing his bad behavior.

Todd’s blindness to the danger awaiting him keenly reminded me of Phil Hartman’s demise. I remember being shocked when news reports stated that he had informed his wife that he was leaving and then went to sleep. Honestly, who does that!

The Silent Wife is an amazing combination of elements of Sense and Sensibility and Fatal Attraction. His internal rationalizations of his discontinuation of financial responsibility for Jodi brought to mind Fanny’s machinations of John Dashwood convincing him that leaving his half sisters in near poverty was actually quite generous. Ultimately Todd’s cowardice makes him a character that the reader can hardly wait to reach his final reward.

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide Survey.

Of all intimate partner homicides in 2011, 36% were common-law, 36% were married and 26% were other intimate partners.Note8Despite an increase in 2011, the number of homicides of legally married spouses (including separated and divorced) has been declining since the early 1980s. The number of homicides of common-law partners has been relatively stable over the past 30 years, while the number of other intimate relationship homicides has doubled since 2003

A+S+A+HarrisonA.S.A (Susan) Harrison’s previous books include Orgasms (Coach House Press, 1974), Revelations, with Margaret Dragu (Nightwood Editions, 1987), and Zodicat Speaks (Viking Penguin, 1996). The Silent Wife is her debut novel and she was at work on a new psychological thriller when she died in 2013, aged 65. Harrison was married to the visual artist John Massey and lived in Toronto.

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What If? Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

Like Coldplay’s “What If“, Life After Life‘s Ursula Todd against all odds endures, repeatedly.

Every step that you take
Could be your biggest mistake
It could bend or it could break
That’s the risk that you take

  • BOOK-articleInline copyTitle: Life After Life
  • Author: Kate Atkinson
  • ISBN: 0316176486 (ISBN13: 9780316176484)
  • Series: Stand Alone
  • Published: January 7, 2014 by Anchor Canada
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Genre/s: Literary Fiction
  • Source: Publisher
  • Rating: B+

Viscerally illuminating, Life After Life brings the age old question of “What If” to a whole new level. Imagine Groundhog Day although sadly without the comedic influence of Bill Murray, Life After Life explores the myriad of possibilities that could arise from choosing the road less traveled again and again.

BOOK TRAILER

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways.

Ursula Todd dies in a number of truly awful ways, making it actually quite difficult to read at times despite the skillful writing. Kate Atkinson was literally too accomplished at bringing the reader into the cold inhospitable world that Ursula when she isn’t dead occupies.

She had had affairs over the years … but she had never been pregnant, never been a mother or a wife and it was only when she realized that it was too late, that it could never be, that she understood what it was that she had lost. Pamela’s life would go on after she was dead, her descendants spreading through the world like the waters of a delta, but when Ursula died she would simply end. A stream that ran dry.

Kate Atkinson, Life After Life

What I found particularly compelling about Life After Life was the suggestion of the depth of the impact one life could have. It was not just an exploration of the various incarnations Ursula’s life manifested but the allusion that her existence created a ripple effect impacting an almost an infinite number of scenarios.

_AC_4599.jpgKate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since. Kate’s latest novel, Life After Lifewas published in January 2013 to much acclaim and went on to win both the 2013 Costa Novel Award and the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature, and was also shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/12/life-after-life-kate-atkinson-paperback-review

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Disclaimer: ARC was kindly provided by the publisher for an honest review.

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY – Sex in the Title by Zack Love

Five single friends, New York City, in the early 2000s. Sound familiar? 

blog tour

Sex in the Title is guaranteed to appeal to fans of Candace Bushnell’s iconic characters (with a twist) or simply New York in general.

SEX IN THE TITLE

SITTNew York City, May 2000. The Internet bubble has burst, and Evan’s boss fires him with an email. The next day, his girlfriend dumps him, also via email. Afraid to check any more emails, Evan desperately seeks a rebound romance but the catastrophes that ensue go from bad to hilariously worse. Fortunately, Evan meets someone whose legendary disasters with females eclipse even his own.

To reverse their fortunes, they recruit their friends into a group of five guys who take on Manhattan in pursuit of dates, sex, and adventure. With musings about life, relationships, and human psychology, this quintessential New York story about the search for happiness follows five men on their comical paths to trouble, self-discovery, and love.

Zack Love graduated from Harvard College, where he tried to create a bachelor’s degree in Women. With the bachelor portion of that degree in hand, he settled in New York City but – to afford renting his bed-sized studio – found himself flirting mostly with a computer screen and stacks of documents. Determined not to die a corporate drone, Zack decided to sacrifice sleep for screenwriting, an active social life, and Internet startups offering temporary billion-dollar fantasies.

To feed his steady diet of NYC nightlife, he regularly crashed VIP parties in the early 2000s and twice bumped into his burgeoning crush, a Hollywood starlet. But – much to Zack’s surprise – neither of those awkward conversations led to marriage with the A-list actress. Zackeventually consoled himself by imagining fiascoes far worse than those involving his celebrity crush. In the process, he dreamed up a motley gang of five men inspired by some of his college friends and quirky work colleagues. And thus was born Sex in the Title. But the novel is not autobiographical: Zack never had his third leg attacked by any mammal (nor by any plant, for that matter). In fact, keeping his member safe has been one of Zack’s lifelong goals – and one of the few that he’s managed to accomplish.

GIVEAWAY

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EXCERPT 

“What’s SQ?” asked Evan.

“Sexual Quotient.”

“What’s that?”

“Basically, it’s your odds of getting laid. Everyone has an SQ. Just like everyone has an IQ.”

“I’ve never heard that term before.”

“That’s because I made it up.”

“That figures. Finally applying your actuarial skills to what really matters, eh?”

“Yeah…It’s an idea I had always sort of toyed with, but after I lost Yumi to my boss, I really began to develop and refine it.”

“Why is that?”

“Because I started obsessing over why she suddenly dumped me for him. And in the process of figuring that out, I developed the concept of SQ.”

“So how does it work?”

“Your Sexual Quotient is really just an attempt to quantify, on some absolute scale, how attractive you are to the opposite sex. In general, the higher your SQ, the more desirable you are.”

“So the higher your SQ, the easier it is for you to get laid.”

“Right. But your SQ determines a lot more; it effectively defines your bargaining position in a relationship. The lower your SQ, the more likely you are to be dominated by the person you’re with,” Heeb explained.

“You really think so?”

“Look at me. I always end up being the doormat because of my SQ. But if you look at models – male or female – they generally get away with demanding more and giving less.”

“So how do you figure out your SQ?” Evan asked, suddenly eager to compute his own Sexual Quotient.

“Well, your subjective SQ is how attractive you are to a particular person. And your objective SQ is just the average of all the scores you got for all of the people out there.”

“So how do I calculate my SQ for a particular woman?”

“It’s calculated the way you would calculate your personal income taxes.”

“How’s that?”

“Various facts cause you to take deductions from the total, although with taxes you want the deductions and with your SQ you obviously don’t. Because the lower your objective SQ is, the fewer women you attract, and the less picky you can be. And that’s a bad thing. And for anyone who wants to marry a Jew, it’s a disaster.”

“Why?”

“Because there are only about fourteen million Jews in the whole world, which leaves about seven million for each gender. So let’s say I’m willing to date any Jewish woman who’s twenty to forty years old. That leaves me with a choice of about two million women in the world. And if we assume that half of those women are already taken, I’m left with a million eligible women roaming about six billion people.  And, chances are, the million that’s not taken is not taken for a reason.”

“A million?”

“Yeah. And if you want to get really precise, we need to shave off at least another three hundred thousand, because I can’t date any Chasidic, Orthodox or even Conservative Jews.”

“Why is that?”

“Because I’m compatible only with bagel Jews.”

“Bagel Jews?”

“The ones who are Jewish culturally but not religiously. Which leaves about seven hundred thousand.”

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Bitten – The TV Series

GUEST POST – teachergirl73

bitten_poster

When I read that Bitten, the novel by New York Times best-selling author Kelley Armstrong, was coming to television, I was super-excited. This is one of my all time favourite books, and when I thought about how the story unfolds, I thought that there was definitely enough plot-line to carry a season. Now that we are into the first four episodes of the show, I’m still holding out hope that the show will continue to grow and develop into something really good. For the most part, the show’s creators have done a good job with the casting and setting, although I think in my own mind, Antonio and Jeremy were older and it is difficult to get around Clay’s lack of a southern accent, but that’s just me nit-picking.

bitten_group2

As for the plot, my verdict is still out. There are some places where they have almost taken the story and dialogue word for word from the novel and then in other places completely changed it. I know that this is inevitable, so I’m trying to keep an open mind about those changes. One of these changes is having Logan living in the same city as Elena. In the book, Elena is on her own in Toronto and you get a real sense of her isolation and loneliness being separated from her pack. I suspect that this story change was made to demonstrate the closeness between Logan and Elena, which is really told through Elena’s reflections in the novel.

bitten-tv-showElena is living in Toronto to escape her guilt over killing a human who was threatening to expose the existence of werewolves to the world. She’s forced to make a split second decision and blames the “animal” side of her for decision to kill. Elena’s struggle to be human rather than wolf colours every choice that she makes from that point on in her life, including her attempt to leave her pack family behind for good. For the most part, this is all conveyed over the course of the first two episodes. In the first episode, you get to see the life that Elena has tried to build for herself during her self-imposed exile. She has a job, an apartment, and a live-in boyfriend, while she increasingly struggles to hide the wolf side of her.  In the second episode, you learn the history of the pack, and who is in it and the different relationship dynamics that Elena has with each of her pack brothers. By episodes three and four, the danger to the pack has escalated quite dramatically and I certainly hope that the show’s creators can build on this momentum.

Recently I read a review by Kaitlin Thomas for www.tv.com, which I thinks does an excellent job of summing up what isn’t quite right with the story-line: Kaitlin Thomas www.tv.com  Jan. 14, 2014, “there’s nothing inherently bad about Bitten. Fans of genre shows will probably enjoy the series and its mysteries just fine, especially if the story picks up as the show progresses, but overall, Bitten isn’t adding anything new to a television slate that’s slowly becoming overrun with supernatural and fantasy shows. If the series wants to make a name for itself (especially in the U.S.), it’s going to need to step up its game by developing its characters, adding more action, and giving the pack members some distinguishing characteristics and personalities. ” http://www.tv.com/m/shows/bitten-2013/community/post/bitten-series-premiere-review-summons-season-1-episode-1-138946732922/

What I think is the missing piece to the show is Elena’s narration. In the book, most of the story is from her “inside voice”, and it is that personal recount that creates context for how the other characters interact with her, as well as the fills in the story-line more fully. Although somewhat unrelated, an example of a recent excellent film adaptation of a story where the majority of the inner dialogue of the protagonist plays an important part of the movie was Warm Bodies. In this depiction R’s narration was so skillfully incorporated that the film in my opinion was better than the book.

I will stick with the show until the end of the season, for better or for worse, but I’m hoping that it lives up to its potential. Bitten is the first book in Armstrong’s “Otherworld” series, where each subsequent book focuses on different characters and their stories. As a fan of Clay and Elena’s story, I’ve always wanted more of it.

Master of the Opera Act 3: Phantom Serenade (Master of the Opera) – Jeffe Kennedy

“So this is a sex game.”

“Oh no, More than that, Christine.” He stilled drawing intensity to him like a building storm system. “Will you try – just a taste – at least for tonight?”

JeffeKennedy_PhantomSerenade_300

It is obvious when reading Master of the Opera Act 3: Phantom Serenade that Jeffe Kennedy is a seasoned professional coyly leading the reader, along with Christine, down into the labyrinth beneath the Opera House that is the Ghost’s world. Until the third act the sensuality between Christine and the Ghost is just hinted at, with a glancing touch here and the odd suggestive thought there and even when the Ghost finally begins to court Christy in earnest the interludes between them remain tasteful without crossing over into the realm gratuitous acts which are closer to pornography than actual erotic literature.

After a harrowing night trapped in the tunnels beneath the Sante Fe Opera House, intern Christy Davis finds comfort in the arms of Roman Sanclaro, the opera’s wealthy and gorgeous benefactor. But even as Roman tries to impress her with his lavish lifestyle—and seduce her with his charms—Christy cannot stop obsessing over her other, clandestine lover.

Hidden in the labyrinths below, a mysterious masked man has become the master of her desires: a sensual but commanding partner who pushes Christy to the very brink of erotic pleasure…and beyond. No other man can compare. But somewhere, watching from the shadows, a fiercely jealous rival threatens to destroy the erotic secret they share.

the-phantom-gerard-butler-the-phantom-28594319-1008-1280Part murder mystery and part classic love story Phantom Serenade is captivating, intriguing the reader at every turn. After the conclusion of this installment I am left with the quandary of whether to watch Phantom of the Opera, the version starring Gerard Butler of course, possibly the only man I would let tie me up (said tongue in cheek, don’t tell my husband) or read everything I can find by Ms. Kennedy. Truth be told I will probably do both.

AUTHOR: Jeffe Kennedy

RATING: 3 1/2 Stars

GENRE: Erotica/Romance

Disclaimer: ARC was kindly provided by the publisher for an honest review.