In the middle of a family Thanksgiving, Eve Gimbel overhears her husband, Jon, on the telephone. She can tell by the tenderness in his voice that he is talking to another woman. She is devastated. Ten years together and she never had a clue that Jon might be losing interest. Their life has seemed exactly the same as it always was. They have a young son and Eve is only a month from giving birth to their second child.
Jon immediately denies any physical infidelity, but he has been building a relationship with this woman through email and phone calls for more than a year. Without Jon knowing, Eve accesses his email records and reads everything that he and the other woman have written to each other. The knowledge she gains compel her to insist on a trial separation.
While they are apart both Jon and Eve eventually discover that their marriage wasn't what it should or could have been. They both fell into easy roles that, like a bad habit, became second nature to each of them. They learn that a dynamic relationship takes real work and they must decide if they are willing to invest that in each other and their family.
What is cheating? That is the interesting question that Holly Shumas poses in this novel. Is an emotional betrayal worse than a physical one? In our society, infidelity is generally considered to be a sexual affair. In this case, though, Eve is most hurt that Jon is giving the light, fun part of himself, that she knew in their early days together, to someone else. To her, a physical fling might even have been easier to forgive than his emotional entanglement with another woman.
I thought this was a smart, well written story that educates in the guise of entertainment. It imparts the important message that communication, self-awareness and honesty are vital for a successful relationship. It is one of those things that is difficult in practice, which is why there are professionals out there to help with rough patches. Holly Shumas is a licensed marriage and family therapist and her knowledge shines through in her novel. Her website is here.
This would be a fantastic book for reading groups, there is plenty of material for discussion! The Reading Group Guide is here.
Love and Other Natural Disasters is published by 5 Spot. ISBN 978-0-446-50477-5
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