Thursday, May 12, 2011

Review: The First Husband

Summary: A savvy, page-turning novel about a woman torn between her husband and the man she thought she'd marry.

Annie Adams is days away from her thirty-second birthday and thinks she has finally found some happiness. She visits the world's most interesting places for her syndicated travel column and she's happily cohabiting with her movie director boyfriend Nick in Los Angeles. But when Nick comes home from a meeting with his therapist (aka "futures counselor") and announces that he's taking a break from their relationship so he can pursue a woman from his past, the place Annie had come to call home is shattered. Reeling, Annie stumbles into her neighborhood bar and finds Griffin-a grounded, charming chef who seems to be everything Annie didn't know she was looking for. Within three months, Griffin is Annie's husband and Annie finds herself trying to restart her life in rural Massachusetts.

A wry observer of modern love, Laura Dave "steers clear of easy answers to explore the romantic choices we make" (USA Today). Her third novel is packed with humor, empathy, and psychological insight about the power of love and home. -- Viking

When I picked up THE FIRST HUSBAND by Laura Dave, I was pretty much expecting your typical "chick lit" book. I don't mean that in a negative way at all, but the book's description did make it sound kind of light and fluffy. I figured THE FIRST HUSBAND would tell the story of a young woman who was torn between two men and who was trying to figure out who she really loved. And I guess in some ways, that was exactly what THE FIRST HUSBAND was. However, that brief description doesn't really do justice to the depth of this novel. This novel was actually very smart and Ms. Dave did an amazing job of bringing Annie to life for me.

I found THE FIRST HUSBAND to be a very entertaining read and one that I highly recommend for fans of women's fiction (and even chick lit.) I actually read the novel in one sitting -- I certainly didn't intend to take a few hours out of my day and lock myself in my room, but I quickly became caught up in Annie's life. Annie, who was a globe-trotting travel writer, is pretty much a mess after her boyfriend dumps her for another woman. So when she discovers that she's attracted to another man (Griffin) after the breakup, she jumps into the new relationship head-first. She becomes so caught up with Griffin that she decides to leave her current life behind, marry him, and move to rural Massachusetts -- and this all occurs in a three month period. If you are anything like me, you probably have a strange feeling that things aren't going to be entirely smooth sailing for Annie and Griffin.

And you'd be right.... Annie discovers that her new marriage and new home aren't quite living up to her expectations. To make things even more complicated, her ex-boyfriend reappears in her life and causes Annie to reconsider many of her decisions. Despite being a complete mess, Annie decides that she needs to take some valuable time for herself and really learn what she wants out of life. You'll have to read the book to learn what she decides to do -- I'm not going to spoil the story!

While there is no doubt that the story was very entertaining, I most enjoyed the character of Annie and how well Ms. Dave developed her. I appreciated seeing how much Annie evolved throughout the course of the story, and I was surprised by how much I cared about her. At times I wanted to shake her for her rashness and stupidity, but for the vast majority of this story, I just wanted her to find some sort of happiness! I loved how Ms. Dave used Annie's career as a travel journalist, as well as her commentary about travel, to ultimately help Annie discover the true meaning of the word home.

I was extremely impressed with Ms. Dave's writing style and I thought her insights into love and relationships were spot-on. However, I most appreciated how she explored self-awareness in the character of Annie. I think many women will relate, at least in part, to Annie's character. And I think the overall messages about love, friendship and home will resonate with each and every reader.

THE FIRST HUSBAND would make a great book club pick. I think Annie is a fascinating character and her actions are worth a few hours of discussion. I wasn't able to find a reading guide anywhere on-line, but I honestly think your group wouldn't have any problems finding things to discuss. Some of the topics that you might want to explore include love, marriage, commitment, self-discovery, friendship, new beginnings, security, honesty, and being true to one's self.

THE FIRST HUSBAND was my "first" experience with a Laura Dave novel, but I can guarantee it won't be my last. I was highly impressed with Ms. Dave's writing as well as her character development, and I look forward to reading my copy of THE DIVORCE PARTY in the very near future.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.


Beth F said...

I don't always do well with chick-lit but you've convinced me that this novel has more to it.

bermudaonion said...

Wow, that sounds like it's got a lot of substance to it! I'm very curious about what Annie decided to do.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm curious too! Since so many of us have gone into rebound relationships at one point or another, this sounds like one that would have universal appeal!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Rebound! Never a good thing! And yes, like Jill said, we've probably all been there. The grass is greener for about a week or two. I would have totally written off this book as a beach read, but that is the beauty of our world...I stand corrected! Nice review!

Melanie said...

Three months? Wow. Now I've got to read it and find out what happens. Thanks for sharing.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

You're tight, from the synopsis alone I would not have picked up the book but your well-written review made me pause. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I don't love or hate chick-lit but this does sound good. I want to find out what happens to Annie.