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.