All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Tempting Fate – Jane Green

on September 26, 2013

Tempting FateTempting Fate
Jane Green
Penguin Books Aus
2013, 394p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Gabby is 43, happily married to Elliott for almost the past 20 years. She’s never doubted her love for him, although she is upset that he denied her one thing that she wanted so badly, denied her it without consulting her. Their two daughters are growing up, needing Gabby less and less and she finds herself at a bit of a loss, unsure of who she really is anymore.

Then she meets Matt. 10 years younger than she is, Matt gives her the appreciation and admiration that at times she feels is lacking from her husband. Gabby finds herself caught up in the attraction – a younger, very good looking and successful guy is interested in her. It’s flattering – it’s heady. She finds herself diving into a text and email correspondence, buying herself some new, attractive clothes and even going and having a few things done to shave a few years off her age, make her feel even better about herself. All the while, Gabby steadily tells herself that she’s not going to have an affair. It’s just a bit of fun, that’s all. She and Matt are friends.

But in one careless moment, Gabby suddenly finds everything in her life under threat. There is no escaping the consequences and Gabby realises with startling clarity what she really wants – only after it is gone. She puts all her energies into repairing what she has ruined. But she has committed the ultimate betrayal and Elliott will be faced with the evidence of that every day. Is it possible for him to forgive her?

Books on infidelity are often a no-go zone for me. I find it really hard to identify or sympathise with characters who commit it and usually it can put me in a sour mood for the rest of the book. So it was with some trepidation that I opened this one, having a pretty good idea of what the story was going to be like.

However it’s actually quite a thoughtful exploration of marriage and what the shattering of trust can do to it, especially to someone’s image of themselves and of their partner. Gabby and Elliott were a strong, tight couple until he did something without really taking Gabby’s feelings into consideration. She thought she was okay with it but she wasn’t – she hadn’t moved on, she hadn’t accepted it and she certainly hadn’t forgiven him for it. It festered away inside of her, probably without her even being aware of it until their friends made an announcement that brought it all front and center for Gabby. She was devastated and felt betrayed and left out and regretful and when Matt showed interest in her, she was flattered. And probably, who wouldn’t be? She was 43, mother of two teenage girls, one who was heading out of teenage years. He was a decade younger, gorgeous, successful and complimented her on her looks and her personality. It was soothing to her, that she could still attract the attention of someone else, especially someone like Matt after so many years of marriage.

I think for someone like Gabby, who fears she is losing her identity and also who is smarting over the thoughtless actions of her husband, it’s unsurprising she found herself so taken in with Matt. He’s a good guy, a nice guy and he’s genuine in his actions towards her. She doesn’t have to reciprocate, he’s not aggressive or pushy, but he makes her feel good. And I think she desperately wanted to feel good. She becomes almost obsessed with him in a way, with the correspondence and she finds herself lying to people she cares about, covering her tracks when they meet up for a drink. I discussed a lot of the plot of this book with my husband, because I wanted a male perspective on what her husband does and Gabby’s consequent actions, that I think stem quite a lot from having something she desperately wanted taken away from her. Gabby isn’t horrible, she doesn’t seek to hurt anyone, she almost seeks to fix herself from pain that was inflicted upon her (not deliberately). Unfortunately all she does is bring about more pain and not just for herself – for her family members too. She also gains something wonderful out of everything that happens and she has to try and focus on that after a while, in order to go on with her life.

Even having been married for only a couple of years (with my husband for 7) I can understand having crushes on other people. It happens. I don’t think that once you’re with someone that means you don’t notice other people. It’s fine to notice, it’s fine to be attracted to someone, it’s fine to kind of….imagine other scenarios. But for many people, these are just idle fantasies – something that would never ever be acted upon. But if you hide it – if you lie about it, that’s the beginning of a very slippery slope. As someone says in the book, no one sets out to have an affair. They delude themselves into thinking it’s innocent, it’s just a friendship. But the boundaries get pushed slowly until all of a sudden, that’s what it is. An affair. There’s no denying that marriage is hard. Even when it’s easy, there are still things about it that are hard. Sometimes other options look easier – but as Gabby finds out, that’s rarely the case.

One thing I was a bit uncertain about was the ending – I wasn’t sure how realistic it was, because of how I think I would feel. However I think it worked for the story and the characters within it. I was surprised just how well this book handled a difficult topic and because of that, how much I enjoyed it. It’s by far the best take on this topic that I’ve read, handled with sensitivity and thoughtfulness.

8/10

Book #248 of 2013

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2 responses to “Tempting Fate – Jane Green

  1. Books involving infidelity are an automatic disqualification for me, but I am happy to hear that you enjoyed it 🙂 While it’s not surprising that Gabby entered into an emotional (and later what I’m assuming became a physical) affair with Matt given the circumstances with her husband, I find it almost impossible to sympathize with these sort of characters no matter what justifications they have in order to excuse their behaviour. When I find myself gritting my teeth at the very thought of the novel and as I read your review, I think it’s safe to say that Tempting Fate is not the right book for me!

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