Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Review: My Father's Wives

Summary: The co-host of ESPN’s Mike and Mike follows up his New York Times bestseller All You Could Ask For with this poignant story of one man’s search to understand himself, his marriage, and his father.

Jonathan Sweetwater has been blessed with money, a fulfilling career, great kids and Claire, his smart, gorgeous, sophisticated wife. But there is one thing Jonathan never had: a relationship with his father.

Percival Sweetwater III has been absent from his son’s life since Jonathan was nine years old. A five-term U.S. senator, now dead, Percy was beloved by presidents, his constituents, and women alike, especially the five women who married him after Jonathan’s mother.

Jonathan hasn’t thought about Percy or the hole he left in his life for years. Dedicated to Claire and his family, he’s nothing like his serial monogamist father. But then Jonathan discovers evidence that everything in his marriage may not be as perfect as he thought. Hurt and uncertain what to do, he knows that the only way to move forward is to go back.

On this quest for understanding—about himself, about manhood, about marriage—Jonathan decides to track down his father’s five ex-wives. His journey will take him from cosmopolitan cities to the mile-high mountains to a tropical island—and ultimately back to confront the one thing Jonathan has that his father never did: home. -- William Morrow

I am a HUGE fan of Mike Greenberg! Booking Son and I listen to his morning sports radio show Mike & Mike just about every day. Booking Son actually wants to be a sportscaster when he grows up, but "not the athlete guy -- more like Greeny!" So naturally when I learned that he was an author, I wanted to read his books. I haven't yet read his two nonfiction books, but I did listen to his first novel ALL YOU COULD ASK FOR a few years ago - you can read review. This might sound strange, but I was pleasantly surprised by his "softer side." And I was especially impressed with his ability to write a novel in various female's voices.

When I received a copy of his second novel MY FATHER'S WIVES, there was no doubt that I would be reading it. Of course, the blurb on the cover by Jonathan Tropper didn't hurt either. I'm paraphrasing here, but basically he said Greeny knows about more than just sports -- he gets men! That definitely piqued my interest. I figured if he did a good job capturing the essence of three women in his first novel, then he should do an equally good job of writing about a man... a man who has a few things in common with Mr. Greenberg!

MY FATHER'S WIVES tells the story of Jonathan Sweetwater, a middle aged guy who has a pretty "sweet" life. He's married to a gorgeous woman, has two terrific kids, and a great job that pays really well. He's living the American dream until he arrives home one day to discover that his marriage might not as ideal as he thought!

Jonathan is truly a family man and loves his wife dearly; however, he begins to question his life... and this makes him want to examine his relationship with his larger-than-life father. Percival Sweetwater III was a long-time senator who was beloved by many. He also had five different wives! He walked away from Jonathan and his mother when Jonathan was nine years old, and Jonathan truly believes he needs to understand his father before he can move forward in his life and marriage. As a result, he decides to track down his father's five wives and learn more about his enigmatic father.

As Jonathan travels the world trying to understand what made his father tick, he actually ends up discovering more about himself... and what kind of man he wants to be.

MY FATHER'S WIVES was an entertaining read, and once again, I was impressed with Mr. Greenberg's writing. I won't go so far as to say I enjoyed this novel as much as ALL YOU COULD ASK FOR, but I probably wasn't the ideal audience for this one. I definitely related much more to his book about women and friendship. But having said that, I did like this book quite a bit.

As a woman, I can't really say how accurate his portrayal of a middle-aged man was; however, if I had to guess, I'd say it was pretty real. I loved Jonathan's insecurities, and at the same time, I appreciated his honesty in dealing with some pretty serious issues. It was interesting to me to see how Jonathan worked through the problems in his current life by going back and dealing with a few from the past.

However, what I enjoyed the most about MY FATHER'S WIVES was the overall feeling I had when I finished the story. I actually found the book to be quite heartwarming and I really liked Jonathan's character. His growth (and sometimes lack there of) was intriguing to me, and in many ways, this novel felt like a coming-of-age story. And I do love coming-of-age tales!

I suspect that there was quite a bit of Mr. Greenberg in Jonathan. The character just felt real in some important ways. I have no idea about the author's past or his relationship with is father and/or mother, but if I had to guess, I'd say the portrayal of his relationship with his wife and kids was pretty authentic. Or at least I hope it was!

Because MY FATHER'S WIVES deals with many issues, it would make for a great book club discussion. There is a reading guide available with sixteen thought-provoking questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include infidelity, marriage, divorce, parent/child relationships, trust, forgiveness, legacy, wealth, self-discovery, and family.

MY FATHER'S WIVES is an interesting coming-of-age story about a middle aged husband and father who is just trying to make sense of his life. Definitely recommended, especially for fans of Mike Greenberg.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

Most of the reviews I've read of this agree with you that the book is good but not as good as Greenberg's first book. I've yet to try his work.

Beth F said...

I've been on the fence about this. Maybe I should read his first book.

Beth F said...

I've been on the fence about this. Maybe I should read his first book.