Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review: Love in Mid Air

Summary: A chance encounter with a stranger on an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin. Suddenly Elyse is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the community. She finds herself cutting through all the instincts that say "no" and instead lets "yes" happen. As Elyse embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage, and freedom. -- Grand Central Publishing

When I found out that Hachette was hosting a blog tour for LOVE IN MID AIR by Kim Wright, I was extremely interested. I read the book's description and thought it sounded like a great premise (albeit not entirely original); and I was curious to see if this author could bring anything new to the table. In case you're wondering, I think she did!

I have such mixed emotions about LOVE IN MID AIR. I read the book in a few hours and I admit that I was drawn into the story, but I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that I "enjoyed" it. I think a better way to describe my feelings would be to say that I "appreciated" the novel. I had a very hard time relating to Elyse even though she is a wife and mother and about the same age as I am. In fact, I'm going to put this right out there -- I didn't like Elyse one bit and I didn't feel any sympathy towards her at all (not even at the end of the story when I think I was supposed to!) You see...that's my issue with this book. I really had to work hard to let go of my feelings towards the main character especially as it related to her marriage and her child. Having said that, I couldn't put this book down and I think the classic troubled marriage story was very well done.

Now, I admit to being very naive and perhaps some would say that I live in a bubble; but I had no idea that women were like Elyse and her friends. I attend book club (like the women in the book) and other events with women, and I hear the common enough complaints about marriage, husbands and even children; however, I have never met anyone as miserable in her life as Elyse (well...maybe one friend.) I found myself almost hating her for her selfishness and self-pity, and I kept holding out hope that she would just do something to improve her life (although I'm not sure that a long-distance love affair was what I had in mind.)

Once I accepted that I didn't have to love Elyse to read this novel, I was much better off; and I actually started appreciating the author's writing style. Even though Elyse and her friends were kind of annoying, I liked how the author portrayed them. I'm not sure that I'd agree that they were all realistic, but I will say that I thought they all represented the stereotypes of women who are in their 30s and 40s (and stereotypes exist because they are somewhat true.) I loved that the book was written in Elyse's voice because it allowed me to see inside of Elyse's unstable mind. While I didn't agree with most of what Elyse said or did, I did Elyse's voice was very believable and often times very funny. Maybe this book really was an honest look at a woman who wants out of her marriage.

I did really, really like how Ms. Wright told this story. Her writing was very smart, and I thought her choice of words was wonderful. I definitely would be interested in reading more by this author in the future. I liked her use of symbolism, and I especially appreciated how she used the phrase "in mid air" throughout the novel -- it appeared quite a few times and in many different contexts. Not only did Elyse meet her lover while they were flying "in mid air," but I think Elyse was actually living her entire life "in mid air" even when she was on the ground. She was kind of just floating along without anything to ground her if you know what I mean...

I think I'm still processing LOVE IN MID AIR which really says a lot to me about the power of this novel. In fact, I wanted to discuss it with someone right away because I had so much to say about Elyse, her husband, her friends, and her lover. There is no doubt that this book will spark something in you -- good or bad! I am very curious to hear if I am the only one out there who didn't like Elyse (or even feel any compassion towards her.) Needless to say, I think LOVE IN MID AIR would provide a wonderful book club discussion! Truly, there is so much to talk about from the characters, to their actions, to their emotions, etc. I was happy to see that there is a reading guide available that touches on many of the same things that I wanted to discuss! Some of the topics for discussion include love, marriage, commitment, motherhood, friendship, adultery, divorce, and self-discovery.

I do want to warn some future readers that this book was very sexual in nature. I wasn't really surprised by the graphic descriptions of sex between Elyse and her lover or Elyse and her husband. But I was a little shocked by how often phone sex took place and how freely Elyse and her best friend talked about their escapades. Like I said earlier, I guess I am a little naive!

If you are interested in different opinions, make sure you check out the other blogs who are participating in this tour. There is also a very interesting Q&A with the author which will give you even more insight into the inspiration for this novel. Thanks to Hachette for sending me a review copy of this book.

18 comments:

Amy said...

I'm not sure I'd like this one, but I do enjoy thought provoking books. Hmm. This is a really good review, Julie.

Kim said...

Thanks for your review, Julie, and for all your great comments. Elyse can be unlikeable at times - selfish and impulsive and just plain wrong about things, including her own friends. But I wanted to show the mind of a woman who was going through a divorce and it's not always a smooth or pretty landscape. I really hope the book will spark a lot of great book club discussions.

bermudaonion said...

Excellent review, Julie! You do such a good job of capturing your feelings toward a book!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I've not read the book, so I'm just blabbing. But I said this yesterday on someone else's review (Dar perhaps?) that I DO know people like this. There is a real underbelly out their in today's marriages that you don't always see initially. The trouble is, these people who are miserable will never find happiness with another person until they can heal themselves on the inside. And perhaps this is Kim's point. I'm pretty sure I would get frustrated with Elyse too. It would be hard to distance yourself while reading, I would think! You have done a great job with your review!

Kay said...

I've been reading several reviews of this book around the blogosphere and it definitely has me interested. I like the fact that you persevered despite not having much in common with the main character. That is a little hard for me at times. Even though this situation doesn't have much relevance in my own life, I think it will strike a chord in many other women's lives. Good job by the author and I'll be seeking it out.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm beginning to think I'm - well, I don't know what, because I do not like reading about so much sex! I wonder, is it me, or is this really so central to so many lives, or authors, or....?

Alee said...

What a cool idea, and a great review! Thanks for sharing.

Tribute Books said...

May or Maynot look into,but thanks for the review.

Kim said...

You know, the remark about too much sex got me thinking. One thing that hasn't come out so much in the blog and the posts is that Elyse falls for Gerry not just because of the sex but because he pays a lot of attention to her. He doesn't just see her as a wife and mother and that is very intoxicating...

Please understand, novels are descriptive, not perscriptive. As a writer I'm not saying "Hey go have an affair and leave your husband," I'm just noting that sometimes this happens and that when the woman does leave, it's often because she feels that her husband doesn't really see her anymore. That's the emotional component that makes some women ripe for affairs and I don't think this is recognized enough.

Kim Wright

Laura Fabiani said...

I don't think I'll be reading this book, but I must say I love to read your reviews. You really express your feelings and your way of looking at everything about the book even if you don't like the main character. Well done!

Jen (Devourer of Books) said...

Great review, Julie, but I think the author convinced me not to read her book. Not liking a lot of sex in novels is a matter of taste and I think it is slightly offensive for someone to address people in a condescending manner because they don't enjoy lots of sex in their novels. My personal preference is for novels that let us know that sex happened, but don't find it necessary to describe it in detail. I don't think this detracts from the story, because novels are clearly NOT entirely descriptive, or we'd be seeing a lot more bathroom and kitchen scenes.

LisaMM said...

Excellent review, Julie. I think you and I are a lot alike in the naivete dept., because my friends and I don't talk graphically about sex either (and I have plenty of friends) so when I read a book where there's a lot of that, I think, Really? People talk to each other that way?

This is an excellent, well written review. I'm proud of you for the way you always state your honest opinions, and yet you can be honest without ever being mean- you never just slam something when you don't like it.. everything is so well thought out. So, anyway.. great job.

novelwhore said...

Wonderful review, Julie. I have a hard time relating to people that are miserable, but instead of taking steps to improve their lot they seek out vengeful ways that end up hurting others. I don't think you're naive to not relate to such a character; just thoughtful and self aware! I have friends that talk explicitly about their escapades, and I always turn bright red - I think I would become a tomato reading this book too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

candletea said...

I have to admit that I tend to agree with Jen: I am one of those persons who doesn't enjoy reading a lot of sex in books and that has nothing to do with me thinking the author is being prescriptive, because I don't, it's simply that I know I don't like reading about it - it's a matter of taste, or my personal naivite maybe. I don't think it's anything to be explained away by either reviewer or author & it doesn't necessarily make the book bad, just not appealing to me personally.

Kim said...

I certainly hope I didn't offend anyone - I understand that sex scenes aren't everyone's cup of tea and that what constitutes "a lot of sex" can vary from reader to reader. Thanks to Julie for hosting me on the tour and thanks to everyone who made comments!

Darlene said...

Julie, great review. I agree that this book can be a difficult read for some. For me I actually didn't dislike Elyse - I felt an odd connection with her - the thing I didn't like about her were her actions (affair) because I disagreed with them. As for the frank talk within the book - my friends and I don't talk that way either but I have run into women who do. I guess it takes all kinds. I do think because of the subject matter this book could generate a whole lot of discussion, good or bad, within a book club. I also agree with you about being sucked into this book - it did the same with me.

pnuthead13 said...

I just finished the book not more than 15 minutes ago. I immediately Googled the title as a short cut to the reader's guide. This was the first hit I received and I must say I was a bit dismayed at this review but much more so by the comments. The character of Elyse is so raw she is painful to witness at times but this is also the gift of this character. I would never say that she is miserable...to say that is to risk missing her depth. She is a hopeful realist. I understand that people often take comfort in the familiar, in their rigidity, and their fears but for the brave woman who can face and embrace and catch Elyse as she is flying...you will be just a bit more alive for having read this book.

Ellis Shuman said...

I highly recommend the book!