Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review: Love and Other Natural Disasters & Giveaway

Summary: Eve is eight months pregnant and in the middle of a Thanksgiving celebration when she discovers that her husband Jonathan has developed an intimate relationship with a woman over the past year. Jonathan asserts his innocence (an affair involves physical intimacy, and he didn't have any), while Eve feels deeply betrayed by the emotional connection he shared with someone else. What Jon has done seems so terrifyingly out of character that Eve finds herself questioning her entire reality. Did she ever really know Jon at all? Was their happiness together a lie? Is emotional intimacy more forgivable than sexual intimacy? And can their marriage survive? -- 5 Spot

A huge thanks goes out to Miriam from Hachette Book Group USA for sending me a copy of LOVE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS by Holly Shumas. I really, really liked this novel about an eight month pregnant woman who discovers that her husband is emotionally involved with another woman. While I thought the book was going to be a standard chick lit type of book, I was pleasantly surprised by how deep the story was and how much it made me think. I actually had a hard time putting this book down because I got so caught up in Eve's story and had to find out how she ultimately resolved the situation.

For some reason, I could really relate to this story! No, I didn't catch my husband with another woman when I was eight months pregnant; however, the story was kind of like a pregnant woman's worst nightmare. I think almost every pregnant woman feels a little insecure about herself (especially around the seventh/eight month when you feel huge and still seem like you're going to be pregnant forever.) But I can absolutely tell you that my feelings towards Eve's situation were definitely more intense because I can clearly imagine how betrayed she felt at that point in her life.

Even though my feelings definitely went out to Eve and her horrific situation, that doesn't mean that I totally related to her. There were times during this story that I wanted to hit Eve upside the head -- I found her behavior at times to be very frustrating, stupid, etc. Now I don't know exactly how I would have reacted in a similar situation, but I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have made some of the same decisions she did. While I did get mad at Eve (a lot), I found that her emotions and erratic behavior made the character very real to me (and the story very readable.)

One thing that I loved about this book was Ms. Shumas' decision to make the affair an emotional one rather than a physical one. It definitely muddied the waters and made me think. Was it truly infidelity, is it reason enough to end a marriage, etc.? Things suddenly aren't as clear cut when the affair is an emotional one (especially when there are kids involved.)

While I personally consider Jonathan's indiscretion to be cheating, it definitely is something that individuals will interpret differently. I think that most women consider it cheating, while most men will probably say it isn't. Eve found the emotional attachment of the affair to be as devastating, if not more so, than a physical one. Women tend to value the emotional part of relationships over the physical ones. Eve's husband, Jon, thought he was being punished (unjustly) because he never followed through with his feelings! It all makes for a very interesting story; and I found all of these male/female dynamics to be fascinating.

I wasn't familiar with author Holly Shumas before reading LOVE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS; however, I now consider myself a big fan of her writing. (I have a copy of Ms. Shumas' first novel FIVE THINGS I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT in my TBR pile, and I can't wait to read it.) Ms. Shumas is a practicing marriage and family therapist, and I think it's evident in this novel that she is familiar with the emotional aspects of affairs. I found this novel to be very engaging as well as easy to read, but I was even more impressed with Ms. Shumas' ability to create such well-developed characters, especially Eve. Even if I did want to shake Eve a time or two, her feelings and actions did seem very realistic to me.

I highly recommend reading LOVE AND NATURAL DISASTERS, especially if you are a mother. I also think that book clubs would thoroughly enjoy reading and talking about this novel. It's not my club's normal fare, but I know we'd have so much to discuss. Take a look at the reading guide, and you'll see that there are some very thought-provoking discussion questions. I'm sure that many groups will have a very spirited debated about the emotional versus physical affair issues. I'd also be interested to hear what my friends think about Eve, her behavior, and her ultimate decision.

Does LOVE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS sound like a book that you would enjoy? If so, please leave a comment (with your e-mail address) telling me whether you consider an "emotional affair" to be cheating. One lucky, random reader will win a copy of this book! The giveaway will be open until Friday, January 30th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will announce the winner on the following day. This contest is open to those of you with United States mailing addresses only (no P.O. boxes, please.) Good luck!

Check out these other tour stops:
http://www.writeforareader.edublogs.org/
http://www.bermudaonion.wordpress.com/
http://booksamyreads.blogspot.com/
http://cafeofdreams.blogspot.com/
http://ablogofbooks.blogspot.com/
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http://athomewithbooks.blogspot.com/
http://www.myfriendamysblog.com/
http://thetometraveller.blogspot.com/
http://bookingmama.blogspot.com/
http://2kidsandtiredbooks.blogspot.com/
http://www.skrishnasbooks.com/
http://enroutetolife.blogspot.com/
http://www.anovelmenagerie.com/
http://printedpage.us/
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She Reads and Reads

50 comments:

Serena said...

I've seen this book around the blogs and would love to win a copy.

I do think an emotional affair is cheating. Its as if saying the person you are married with is not supportive emotionally and that you are not totally there in the marriage with them, making it work. marriage is something you have to work at, which is pretty hard to do when you are the only one emotionally present.
Thanks for the great question and contest!

savvyverseandwit AT gmail DOT com

Cheryl said...

Yes, an emotional fair IS cheating. In fact, that can be MORE intimate than a physical relationship.

I'd love to read this book!

Julie said...

I read this book and thought that the emotional affair aspect was interesting but other than that I didn't really care for the book. I expected more from a therapist and felt like I received standard "chick lit"

S. Krishna said...

Don't enter me, but I completely agree with your review - nice job!

Ramya said...

I definitely think that an emotional affair IS cheating.. I totally agree with Cheryl when she said that it can be more intimate than a physical relationship..

do enter me for the giveaway!
ramyasbookshelf(at)gmail(dot)com

Michele said...

I'm going to agree with the other comments. Yes, I do think that an emotional affair is cheating. I would be crushed if my husband did this. And I know that he would feel the same way if I did it to him.

Stacie said...

I have heard about this book too. I definately think an "emotional affair" is unacceptable! You are giving someone else, other than your spouse, you thoughts and feelings and that is cheating!

Rica said...

An aemotional affair is cheating.My marriage of 15 years was broken up due to this form of cheating!
fberg@bzaedsorg

Book Lover Lisa said...

good review. i had many of the same thoughts about the book. I had not thought about the fact that woment consider an emotional affair cheating because that is what is most important to them in a relationship. And I guess men consider sex as cheating, because that is important to them :}

carolsnotebook said...

Is an emotional affair cheating? I would have to say yes, but I can see where others might say no. Thanks for entering me.

Toni said...

Hello .. no need to enter me.. Just stopping by the Blog Tour Hosts. Great review. I thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts.

mindy said...

absolutely an affair of any kind is cheating minsthins(at)optonline(dot)met

kathemc(at)gmail(dot)com said...

Would love to win -- have been wanting to get Five Things I Can’t Live Without for a while now, and this new one sounds awesome!

Such a tough call -- my instinct is that it is, but I'd have to be in that situation to say for sure how I'd feel.

Anna said...

This book raises a great question, and I have to say yes, an emotional affair is cheating. And I can see how it could be more painful than learning of a physical affair.

Thanks for holding the giveaway!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric
diaryofaneccentric AT hotmail DOT com

Miriam said...

OMG. I think you and Kathy were channeling each other when you wrote your reviews!!! LOVE IT! :)

bermudaonion said...

Oh my, I'm thrilled to have my review compared to yours! Don't enter me.

Bridget said...

I've posted on Win A Book. No need to enter the contest.

The Tome Traveller said...

Just stopping by to say hi on the blogtour. I enjoyed this book too. Great review!

Carey

Mishel said...

I'm very interested in this book and I have been seeing around blogland very frequently.

I think an emotional affair is cheating and is actually worse than a physical one. Not that I'm cutting any slack for physical affairs.

mish_only@hotmail.com

thanks (=

Steve said...

Please enter me in the contest

Thanks

steve(DOT)fisk(AT)gmail(DOT)com

AmandaSue said...

Yes I believe an emotional affair is considered cheating, expectually since emotions are a huge part of a relationship for a women. I would love to be entered into this giveaway please, thank you!
unforgetable_dreamer_always AT hotmail DOT com

MJ said...

I think an emotional affair IS cheating. I would be devastated if it happened to me!

Karlie said...

Absolutely! Please enter me.

Janel said...

An emotional affair is definitely cheating. Being mentally attached to another person can be more serious than a physical attraction, in my opinion.

Please enter me!

jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

mamasbooks said...

I would definitely be upset if my husband had an emotional affair.. Like others have said, marriage is something you work at in all aspects.
Have a nice one! lpmccann(at)gmail.com

malleycc said...

I would love to read this. Yes I consider an emotional affair to be cheating although it sure is better than physical affair.

darbyscloset said...

I think that an emotional affair is cheating. For the mind takes the emotion and runs with it. I'd be terribly hurt if my husband thought of other women while with me!
I would enjoy reading this book and thank you for the good review!!
Darby
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

liane66 said...

Sounds like a good read, And yes an emotional affair would be a no no in my book.

Thanks for the giveaway.
kimspam66(at)yahoo(dot)com

Stephanie said...

I think an emotional affair would be harder to recover from.

daq_17 at hotmail dot com

Luanne said...

No need to enter me - just stopping by on the tour. I really enjoyed your review. I too think it would be a good pick for a book club.

Kristen said...

I definitely think an emotional affair is cheating. It says you need to go outside your marriage for fulfillment in one of the most basic of ways. Certainly there are times when you don't want to go to your spouse with a problem or whatnot but to your friends instead. It's when your first choice is always your friends, and especially when the friend is of the other sex, that you have a big problem to face in your marriage. Physical intimacy is just a part of a good marriage. I think emotional intimacy is actually a bigger part.

Please enter me for the givewaway.
whitreidsmama@yahoo.com

Sara said...

Enter me please. An emotional affair is not cheating. It's too hard to quantify. Not to say it doesn't hurt, and it isn't a betrayal, but there should be an definitive line to cross. Cheating is cheating. Emotions are so complicated that some credit should be given to those who don't act on their feelings as a way to honor their vows.

Sararush at hotmail dot com

ddurance said...

Oh, I can just imagine being eight months pregnant and an emotional wreck and facing this with my husband. He would be lucky if he stayed alive. LOL

Deidre

Melissa said...

I keep hearing great things about this one! I do think an emotional affair is cheating. If you turn to someone other than your spouse there is a problem.

Julie said...

Oh, yes, an emotional affair is definitely cheating! Thanks:)
julyso@grandecom DOT net

Kaye said...

I think an emotional affair is almost worse than a physical one. Great contest enter me in the drawing please
florida982002[at]yahoo[dot]com

Gwendolyn B. said...

Oh, yeah! An emotional affair is definitely cheating! The relationship between two people is more important than the physical aspects.
Can't wait to read this one! Thanks for the chance.
geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

heatherlo said...

Yay, count me in.

Emotional affairs definitely fall into the realm of cheating. The only thing is, there's kinda a fine line between good friends and having an emotional affair. I think the difference is when you confide in that other person more, or about more important things, than your S.O. Just an opinion. :)

Thanks for the giveaway!

Cheryl (Lucky Ladybug) said...

I definitely consider an "emotional affair" to be cheating :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!

lucky[dot]ladybug[at]verizon[dot]net

Jo-Jo said...

Please enter me in this contest. I think it is cheating...even though nothing physical did happen it's pretty obvious it could have. And that memory will always be there.
joannelong74@gmail.com

LazyDaisy0413 said...

I'd love to win a copy of this book. It sounds good. Please enter me. Thanks.

avisannschild said...

No need to enter me. Just wanted to say I enjoyed this book too. I just reviewed it here (and linked to your review).

Meg89 said...

Please enter me. As far as is an emotional affair cheating, I think calling it an emotional AFFAIR begs the question

Carrie K. said...

In some ways I think an emotional affair would bother me more than a physical one. Not that a physical one wouldn't be devastating, but sometimes they can simply be about sex.

melanie said...

Please don't enter me, i'm getting ready to post my review and link to yours.
And it absolutely is cheating.

Wrighty - said...

These sound so good! I think an emotional affair is cheating just as much as a physical one is. I guess it's up to the couple if they could recover from it. Thanks for your contest!

5wrights1[at]verizon[dot]com

a real librarian said...

I definitely think an emotional affair is cheating.

Thanks for the chance to win!

areallibrarian[at]gmail[dot]com

Diana D said...

Love to read and would welcome being a winner. Thanks for having the wonderful giveaway.

dianad8008 AT gmail DOT com

Diana D said...

Yes an emotional affair. I forgot to make my comment with the last entry. Thanks for having the giveaway

dianad8008 AT gmail DOT com

Florinda said...

This book's on my wish list, despite the fact I think it will be a challenge for me to read. What started out as an emotional affair, and then became a more conventional one, contributed to the end of my first marriage. (I should make clear that it wasn't MY affair.)

Please enter me in the giveaway.

3.rsblog AT Gmail dot com

Thanks!