Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Other Woman

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman (Doubleday, 2006, 352pp.)

As long as she’s married to Jack Woolf, Emilia’s life will be hell. Having broken up her husband’s first marriage, Emilia now has to contend with the unpleasant stigma of being seen, not as “Jack Woolf’s wife,” but as “the other woman.” Add to this the fact that Emilia’s newborn daughter died only days after she was born, and you have one miserable woman. Love and Other Impossible Pursuits traces Emilia’s efforts to deal with her grief and her annoying stepson, William, all while trying to keep her new marriage together. I cannot guarantee whether the reader will get on board with the whole premise. Although the reader should naturally sympathize with the protagonist (despite her scruples), the author deals a low blow by making Jack’s supplanted ex-wife wife, the novel’s antagonist, a neurotic, irascible shrew. You will either like Emilia for who she is, or feel sorry for her because she is suffering from the loss of a child, or simply disapprove of her from the beginning. It’s a relatively quick read, and fans of chick lit will be none the worse for trying it. If you liked Holly Shumas’s Love and Other Natural Disasters, you may find Impossible Pursuits to be of suitable interest.

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