Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review: Tempting Fate

Summary: From Jane Green, the New York Times bestselling author of such beloved novels as Jemima J, The Beach House, Another Piece of My Heart, comes an enthralling and emotional story about how much we really understand the temptations that can threaten even the most idyllic of relationships….

Gabby and Elliott have been happily married for eighteen years. They have two teenaged daughters. They have built a life together. Forty-three year old Gabby is the last person to have an affair. She can’t relate to the way her friends desperately try to cling to the beauty and allure of their younger years…And yet, she too knows her youth is quickly slipping away. She could never imagine how good it would feel to have a handsome younger man show interest in her—until the night it happens. Matt makes Gabby feel sparkling, fascinating, alive—something she hasn't felt in years. What begins as a long-distance friendship soon develops into an emotional affair as Gabby discovers her limits and boundaries are not where she expects them to be. Intoxicated, Gabby has no choice but to step ever deeper into the allure of attraction and attention, never foreseeing the life-changing consequences that lie ahead. If she makes one wrong move she could lose everything—and find out what really matters most.

A heartfelt and complex story, Tempting Fate will have readers gripped until they reach the very last page, and thinking about the characters long after they put the book down. -- St. Martin's Press

If Jane Green writes a novel, then it's pretty much a sure thing that I'm going to read it. In fact, looking back through the list of novels at the front of this book, I think I've read everything she's written. I am always guaranteed to enjoy her books; however, some are definitely better in my opinion than others. Her latest is titled TEMPTING FATE and, while I did like it, I'm not sure it's going to go down as one of my top five.

TEMPTING FATE tells the story of Gabby, a 43 year old woman who has been married for 18 years to Elliott and the mother of two teenage girls. She thinks she's happily married, and for the most part, she is; however, she feels like she might want one more child. Unfortunately, Elliott doesn't feel the same way and decides unilaterally to have a vasectomy.

One evening, Gabby goes to a local bar for a girls' night out; and a gorgeous (and much younger) man named Matt starts flirting with her. What starts out innocently enough soon becomes an almost obsession for Gabby. She feels more confident about herself and loves that she is desired. While she's certain that she will never cheat on Elliott, she finds herself thinking about Matt constantly and even dreaming about a tryst with him.

One weekend when Elliott and the girls are away, she agrees to meet with Matt at her house. Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happens. After this one-time indiscretion, Gabby is more certain than ever that she wants to end things with Matt and focus on her husband and family. However, life throws Gabby a major curve ball and her life is forever changed as a result of this one-time stand.

If I'm being entirely honest, I had very mixed emotions about TEMPTING FATE. On one hand, it was very readable and I finished it in less than two days. (Given my current rate of reading, that's pretty impressive.) I also liked how it had complex characters and delved into some interesting issues. On the other hand, I did find the story rather predictable -- even the ending; and I had a hard time feeling any sympathy for Gabby.

On the surface, Gabby's character is a lot like me. She's married to a great man and everyone thinks their marriage is strong. She is a mother to two children who, as they grow older, are needing her less and less -- or at least that's how Gabby sees it. She's also middle-aged and discovering that her best days -- appearance-wise, are behind her. While she does have some hobbies, she is wondering what the next stage of her life will be. I actually related a lot to Gabby for these reasons.

BUT... and this is a big one. She became obsessed with a younger man and put everything in her life in jeopardy just because it made her feel better about herself. Not only did she almost ruin her own life, but she took down the three people she loved the most along with her just because she liked the attention. I was furious with her and had a hard time liking her and forgiving her throughout the course of this novel. I get that she had some built-up resentment towards her husband, but he truly loved her... and appreciated her. She could have had a much worse life!

Once I got past not really liking (or relating) to Gabby, I did enjoy the novel. I thought the author did a good job with character development, and her portrayal of the mid-life crisis for women (and men!) was very real. I actually found myself really liking many of the characters in this story including Gabby's best friend (to whom I could relate to quite a bit), Elliott, and even Gabby's mom; and I thought their interactions with Gabby were very interesting.

TEMPTING FATE would make a fantastic book club selection. Given how riled out I got with Gabby for sacrificing everything for a quick one-night stand, it's obvious that this story will evoke many strong opinions. Given that my book club is full of women about Gabby's age, I'd love to hear their take on her story! (I have a feeling that I will be the most critical and less sympathetic.) I wasn't able to find a formal discussion guide, but I don't think one is necessary to have a good discussion. Some of the themes you might want to explore include love, marriage, adultery, commitment, secrets, forgiveness, parent/child relationships, parenting, self-confidence, insecurities, friendship, and many more!

Overall, I liked TEMPTING FATE but I think my strong feelings towards Gabby kept me from loving this novel. Having said that, any book that can make me think and feel like this one is a good one! Recommended for fans of Jane Green as well as readers who enjoy women's fiction.

Thanks to Sarah Hall Productions for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

It sounds like Gabby is very well written. I'll probably give this book a try since Jane Green is coming here next month.

Beth F said...

I've only read two of her books and I felt only meh about them. I'm not sure I'll give this one a try.

Kelly Blackwell @ Heres My Take On It said...

Looks like a good read, and I like the book club suggestion. I love a book that sparks conversation!