Summary: Annabelle McKay knows she shouldn’t have any complaints. She’s been in a stable marriage that’s lasted almost three decades and has provided her with two wonderful children, thousands of family dinners around a sturdy oak table, and a husband so devoted that he schedules lovemaking into his calendar every Wednesday morning. Other wives envy the fact that Grant is not the type of man who would ever cheat on her or leave her for a younger woman. The trouble is Annabelle isn’t sure she wants to be married to Grant anymore. The trouble is she’s still in love with someone else.
In the early tumultuous years of her marriage, Annabelle carried on a clandestine affair with the one person whose betrayal would hurt her husband the most. When it ended, she and Grant found their way back together and made a pact that they would never speak of that time again. But now years later, with her children grown and gone, and an ominous distance opening between them, she can’t help but remember those glorious, passionate days and wonder if she chose the right man.
Then, when called to New York City to help care for her pregnant daughter, Annabelle bumps into her old lover. Offered a second chance at an unforgettable love, she must decide between the man who possesses her heart and the husband who has stood squarely by her side. A journey into the what-ifs that haunt us all,
The Stuff That Never Happened is an intricate, heartfelt examination of modern marriage that brims with truths about the nature of romantic love. -- Shaye Areheart Books
A few months ago on Twitter, I caught wind of a soon-to-be-released book called THE STUFF THAT NEVER HAPPENED by Maddie Dawson. The publicist was raving about this novel, and (lucky for me) she graciously offered to send me a copy. I put it away in my beach bag because I just knew I wanted to save it for my vacation!
So I am happy to say that I did read THE STUFF THAN NEVER HAPPENED while soaking up some rays. I enjoyed it, but I don't think I can go so far as to say that I loved it. Keep in mind that my expectations were extremely high so that might have played a part in it. While I did think the writing and character development were very good, I admit that I had some issues with the main character Annabelle -- I just couldn't relate to her for much of the novel.
Having said that, I realize that I don't have to "love" a character to appreciate a book. And that's very true. I did enjoy this novel and I definitely appreciated so much of what the author set out to do. I'm just saying that Annabelle made rash decisions and then pitied herself for many years in her life. It's true that she did "suffer" the consequences of her decisions, but I found myself annoyed with her much of the time. I think if I had felt more of an affinity with Annabelle, the book might have reached that next level to me.
Enough about my issue with the book because I do think it's my issue and many readers will feel differently about Annabelle's character. THE STUFF THAT NEVER HAPPENED is, at its heart, Annabelle's story over a twenty-six year period; and I do think it is very well done. I was hooked on this novel -- it's very readable -- and I didn't want to put it down. There really were so many positive things about this novel. For starters, the writing was fantastic. This book is Maddie Dawson's first, and I think it's a wonderful start. I was extremely impressed with the quality of her prose and her character development; and I won't hesitate to read her future novels.
However, I think what I enjoyed the most about this novel might also be what "bothered" me the most -- Annabelle's character. I love that this book evoked strong feelings in me, even if they were pretty negative at times. I appreciated that Annabelle was a heavily flawed character and that she was so complex. I found her emotions to be very realistic and believable, and I thought Ms. Dawson did a great job of showing the maturation of Annabelle's character throughout the story. I also enjoyed that THE STUFF THAT NEVER HAPPENED delved so deeply into all sorts of relationships -- love and romance, parent/child, and even friendship.
I think THE STUFF THAT NEVER HAPPENED would make a marvelous book club pick. Any book that can evoke those kind of feelings in a reader always make for an interesting discussion. While I couldn't really relate to Annabelle, I have a feeling that many other women will see parts of themselves in her. I wasn't able to find a reader's guide at the present time, but I'm sure there will be one in the near future. Some of the themes you might want to discuss include love, romance, passion, relationships, commitments, regrets, parent/child relationships, forgiveness and redemption. I truly believe that a group could talk abut Annabelle and her behaviors for hours.
I definitely recommend THE STUFF THAT NEVER HAPPENED to women who enjoy literary fiction. If you've already read this book, I'm extremely curious to hear your opinion about Annabelle!
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.