Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Review: Love and Other Natural Disasters by Holly Shumas

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

Order Love and Other Natural Disasters from Amazon

See what everyone else thought! Here's the list of the blog tour participants:


Ladytink_534 said...

It sure sounds like cheating to me. Emotional scars are even harder to remove than the physical ones too.

Beth F said...

Like I said on Bermudaonion's blog - the violation of privacy seems as bad as emotional infidelity.

S. Krishna said...

Nice review, I enjoyed this one as well!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this book, too. I had never thought of an emotional affair before reading it, but now I understand that it can be just as devastating as a physical one.

Book Lover Lisa said...

Definitely a thought provoking novel. My husband and I also discussed it. Really helped me to take a look at my own villany in marriage.

Toni said...

Hello.. I enjoyed the book too. I did find it sort of depressing at first. But I think it was well done. Just stopping by to say hi on BLOG TOUR DAY!!

The Tome Traveller said...

I liked the way the author had Eve gradually realize her own failings within her marriage. She had contributed to their situation, even though she didn't see it at first.

I agree, Lisa, very thought provoking stuff.

Miriam said...

So glad you loved this. :)

Nely said...

WoW! This really sounds good. I must get my hands on a copy of this soon. Thanks for the review.

♥ Nely

Michele said...

Good review, Carey, and I think you're right: it would be perfect for a book club! Drink a few bottles of wine and get into a big ol' debate over what constitutes cheating....LOL....I'd be into it!

Luanne said...

Stopping by on the tour - I too really enjoyed this one. I think it would be a great book club selection as well - lots of fodder for discussion!

Literary Feline said...

This does sound really good. It reminds me of Jennie Shortridge's novel Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe.

troutbirder said...

I have enjoyed looking at your reviews. Especially the one about "Devils Brood." It inspired me to check into Sharon Kay Penman. I am now a devoted fan of her having just finished all three of her "Eleanor of Aquitaine" series. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I've seen lots of reviews popping up for this one! Yes, it does sound like there's a lot of material for a book group to discuss. As LiteraryFeline says, your review makes me think of Jennie Shortridge's *Love and Biology* (I haven't yet read *Love and Other Natural Disasters*)

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.