Love and Other Natural Disasters by Holly Shumas (5 spot, 2009, 352pp.)
Eve’s marriage is on the skids after she discovers that her husband, Jon, is having an affair with another woman. But while Jon freely admits to the illicit relationship, he protests that the affair is merely an “emotional” one, which means that no sexual misconduct has taken place. While her friends and family think this, and her husband’s profuse apologies, are grounds for forgiveness, Eve herself isn’t so sure. Should harboring romantic feelings for a person besides your spouse still be considered an affair—especially when nothing “physical” occurred? Shumas lets readers decide for themselves as she explores the ups and downs of this couple’s relationship, examining what drew them together in matrimony and, of course, what ultimately drove Jon to seek affection elsewhere. The story is an evenly balanced one. The author does a nice job of representing the couple on both sides, creating two flawed, yet ultimately sympathetic human beings (neither Jon nor Eve, it turns out, is completely free from blame). It’s a good story, but like many narratives, it is also a flawed one. The main problem lies with a few of the minor characters, such as the oft-mentioned Laney (the other woman) and Ray, Eve’s date during the official separation period. Both seem to function solely as plot devices than actual people. Laney never makes an actual appearance, while Eve’s one-time fling with Ray can be seen for what it is: a rather pointed way for her to realize that she still harbors feelings for her husband. But while these flaws are annoying, it does not detract from the overall quality of the final product. Love and Other Natural Disasters is a light, thought-provoking read that probes the core of relationships, a chick lit offering that’s certainly better than average.
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