HUSBAND AND WIFE
BY LEAH STEWART
In this new novel by the celebrated author of The Myth of You and Me, a young mother discovers that her husband's novel about infidelity might be drawn from real life.
Sarah Price is thirty-five years old. She doesn't feel as though she's getting older, but there are some noticeable changes: a hangover after two beers, the stray gray hair, and, most of all, she's called “Mom” by two small children. Always responsible, Sarah traded her MFA for a steady job, which allows her husband, Nathan, to write fiction. But Sarah is happy and she believes Nathan is too, until a truth is revealed; Nathan's upcoming novel, Infidelity, is based in fact.
Suddenly Sarah's world is turned upside down. Adding to her confusion, Nathan abdicates responsibility for the fate of their relationship and of his novel's publication—a financial lifesaver they have been depending upon—leaving both in Sarah's hands. Reeling from his betrayal, she is plagued by dark questions. How well does she really know Nathan? And, more important, how well does she know herself?
For answers, Sarah looks back to her artistic twenty-something self to try to understand what happened to her dreams. When did it all seem to change? Pushed from her complacent plateau, Sarah begins to act—for the first time not so responsibly—on all the things she has let go of for so long: her blank computer screen; her best friend, Helen; the volumes of Proust on her bookshelf. And then there is that e-mail in her inbox: a note from Rajiv, a beautiful man from her past who once tempted her to stray. The struggle to find which version of herself is the essential one—artist, wife, or mother—takes Sarah hundreds of miles away from her marriage on a surprising journey.
Wise, funny, and sharply drawn, Leah Stewart's Husband and Wife probes our deepest relationships, the promises we make and break, and the consequences they hold for our lives, revealing that it's never too late to step back and start over.ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Leah Stewart was born in 1973 at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, where her father was stationed. As a child, she lived in Virginia, Idaho, England, Kansas, and Virginia again. She went to high school in Clovis, New Mexico, a town featured in her second novel, The Myth of You and Me. She always wanted to be a writer.
At Vanderbilt University, Leah was the editor of the student newspaper, the Vanderbilt Hustler, and spent summers interning for the Tennessean in Nashville and the Commercial Appeal in Memphis. The latter experience inspired her first novel, Body of a Girl. After college, Leah went to the MFA program at the University of Michigan, and then moved to Boston, where she put her master’s degree to work by taking a job as a secretary for the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She had an office with a door, and she wrote most of her first novel there.
Since then, Leah has worked as a secretary at Duke, a cataloguer in a used bookstore, a magazine editor, a copy editor, and a staff member at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She has been a visiting professor at Vanderbilt University, Sewanee, and Murray State University. The recipient of a 2010 NEA Literature Fellowship, Leah teaches in the University of Cincinnati’s creative writing program, and lives in Cincinnati with her husband and two children.
HUSBAND AND WIFE is Leah Stewart’s novel where fiction becomes reality. That is, Sarah and Nathan Price seem to be a happy couple with two children and each supposedly happy in what they are doing. Well, not one of them as we quickly come to find out. It seems that Sarah gave up her poetry writing and Master of Fine Arts degree in return for a regular steady job. This job allows Sarah to give more attention to the children and bring in some much needed income, and thus Nathan can devote his time to his writing. Nathan writes fiction and Sarah cares for their lovely children. A happy life, or so it seems, until Sarah finds out that Nathan’s new novel, Infidelity, is fiction but it is partially based on facts and experience. The experience part is Nathan’s very own experience as he had cheated on his wife. His wife, Sarah, who had no idea this had been going on. Nathan decides it is time for Sarah to know prior to the book being published.
Sarah is in shock as she thought of them as a team and this news is a rude awakening that has left Sarah shattered. She begins to look at her past, thinking about the direction her life has taken and the choices she has made. Everything Sarah thought she knew had been a lie. Sarah is numb. To make matters worse, Nathan not only has admitted to the cheating but in his own way of trying to make amends tells Sarah that he will leave the fate of his book and their marriage up to her. If she doesn’t want the finished work published, he says he won’t. If she wants to try and make up and let their marriage go on, it is her choice, (I think this is the point where I REALLY started to dislike Nathan more than for the usual “man-cheating-on-wife” reason). The one part of the book that is fact is that the book's success was something they were counting on financially. Now is the burden totally on Sarah?
What will Sarah do? Will she forgive Nathan? Will they then be able to mend things so their marriage and family can mend and move on? Is Nathan capable of this? What is to become of them financially on a practical note? What decision is made and how Sarah decides what to do, makes up the rest of the story. Sarah must be careful now and look at the role she really wants to play in life and not squander that chance again. Her decision takes her on a somewhat wild and lengthy trip to distant places and brings people into, and BACK into, her life that she thought would never be part of it again. This book brings out many emotions as Stewart has the narrator telling the story. I think the characters were well written and Sarah especially brings out the tears but also writes some very amusing parts as well as she tells about all Sarah has gone through in her past and how she approaches this difficult time in her present. Sarah is a sympathetic yet quirky little soul that I cheered for and overall found the story to be an interesting character study as well as one with some unexpected twists and turns. It was an easy read and I did find the premise interesting and was glad I read HUSBAND AND WIFE. It made for a couple of fun sittings to finish it up.
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