Thursday, December 20, 2012
After a dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate Eve’s success, Eric drives the babysitter home and, simply, doesn’t come back. Eve must now shift the family in possibly irreparable ways, forcing her to realize that competence in one area of life doesn’t always keep things from unraveling in another.
Gone is an outstanding novel about change and about redefining, in middle age, everything from one’s marriage to one’s career to one’s role as a best friend, parent, and spouse. It is a novel about passion and forgiveness and knowing when to let something go and when to fight to hold on to it, about learning to say goodbye—but, if you’re lucky, not forever. -- Atria
If I had to choose my favorite type of book, I'd probably say women's fiction or "book clubby books." More specifically, I seem to enjoy books that deal with dysfunctional families. So when I was looking at my book stash a few weeks ago, I decided that GONE by Cathi Hanauer looked like a book that was pretty ideal for me.
GONE tells the story of Eve, a mother of two whose career as a nutritionist and author is finally taking off. Professionally everything seems to be falling into place for her, but her home life is another story. Her teenage daughter is beginning to rebel and her husband seems distant. One night after a dinner to celebrate Eve's success, her husband takes the babysitter home and never returns. Eve had been supporting the family, both financially and emotionally, for the past few months as her husband's career as a sculptor continued to decline; however, she had absolutely no idea that her marriage was on the brink of collapse.
While Eve's husband is away, Eve tries to balance her career and her duties as a mother, but she learns that it's extremely difficult. Eve perseveres with "doing it all" and along the way, she learns many new things about herself as well as the true meaning of love, acceptance, and forgiveness.
Overall I thought GONE was a well written story that definitely captured my interest and then kept it. I appreciated the characters, but didn't always like them; and I really enjoyed the universal themes that this novel explored. There is no doubt that the characters in this book have flaws (and for the most part, they were pretty realistic ones), and I found them to be extremely complex. One very positive aspect of this novel is that it made me think -- about love, marriage, parenting and even forgivness!
Another thing I really liked was the way the novel was presented. Much of the story was from Eve's viewpoint; however, the reader was also given some insight into her husband's mind. Initially, I was very much on Eve's side and it wasn't until I saw her husband's side of the story that I realized that a troubled marriage is never just one person's fault. I found it very interesting to see how both characters interpreted the same events, and I actually understood how their marriage was falling apart.
For the most part, I did like this novel; however, there were a few things that kept me from saying this was a great story. First of all, one of the main characters suffered from depression, and I thought the way the author presented the information about the disorder was a little strange. Initially, the author did a great job of showing just how destructive this disease can be by having the character continue to decline; however, when he was approached about getting help, the characters' dialogue seemed straight out of a public service announcement. There is one scene in particular where the dialogue didn't seem as "tight" as the rest of the novel.
In addition, I didn't love any of the characters, and while that's not necessary, I tend to enjoy books more if I can relate. Almost all of them got on my nerves at times (especially Eve) and I never really felt a connection to most of them. I will admit that both Eve and her husband made me very frustrated -- namely because they acted very stubbornly and selfishly. And there were definitely times that I just wanted to put them in a room together and force them to talk to each other. Their lack of communication was a HUGE issue for them, and it drove me crazy. Having said all that, it's quite possible that this portrayal of a troubled marriage is very realistic.
Because this book delved into so many themes that many middle aged people experience, I think it would be a great book club selection for individuals in the late 30s and beyond. There is a reading guide for GONE with twelve interesting questions as well as some ideas for enhancing your book club meeting. Some of the themes you might want to discuss include family, parenting, marriage, grief, guilt, acceptance, redemption, forgiveness, change, depression, insecurities, and addiction.
I definitely liked GONE despite my few small quibbles and I think fans of women's fiction will appreciate it too.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.