The Wednesday Group
St Martin’s Press
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Gail, Hannah, Bridget, Lizzie and Flavia are from very different walks of life but they all have something in common. Gail is a judge who must keep her identity a secret. Recently she’s begun receiving letters from a graduate student claiming Gail’s perfect husband is in love with her but too scared to tell Gail. Lizzie discovered that her husband is addicted to porn and she wants to work through it but he refuses to meet her halfway. Bridget has just discovered that her husband is addicted to match making websites and porn as well. In her revenge, she may have done something that will bind them together forever. Flavia was ignorant of her husband’s arrest for groping a student on the T until someone at her work brought her a newspaper clipping. And Hannah knew her husband’s secret when she married him but she thought he would stop. He hasn’t.
Kathryn is a young psychologist who brings these women together in a support group. They meet every Wednesday night to talk about their feelings and experiences, knowing that the other women in the group are at least able to understand. Or so they think. However each of them are at very different stages of where they are with their journey dealing with their husband’s behaviours and secrets and at first, it doesn’t look like the Wednesday group will even make it to a second meeting. But slowly they come to trust and confide in each other as their worlds intertwine more and more each week.
I was super intrigued when I read the description of this book. I feel as though the rise of the internet has probably been the downfall of a lot of relationships. Porn is readily available and in plentiful supply. You don’t need to leave the house to access it and there’s both free and paid versions. There are sites where you can sign up to meet someone to date, to sleep with. You can sign up to places that allow you to watch girls on webcam. It’s pretty easy to become obsessed with the internet and with porn. There’s a pretty lethal combination.
Our female characters are all dealing with partners who have betrayed them. In some cases, the betrayal is a physical one, they’ve been intimate with other people even though they claim it doesn’t mean anything. In other cases the betrayal is an emotional one. They’ve been spending all their time and energy, time and energy that should be spent on connecting with their partner, connecting with strangers again. All of the women feel angry, hurt and humiliated and for most, if not all of them, it’s not something they can confide in to their friends over a morning coffee. And so the support group for these women is born, with young psychologist Kathryn in the role as group facilitator. She guides the sessions and asks key questions about their feelings but it’s not her job to play a very intrusive role.
The women were all very different. Gail was older, with a very public and prominent career. Hannah is married with two primary school aged children, the eldest of which is being increasingly affected by the tense atmosphere at home. Lizzie, Flavia and Bridget are also married but without children so far. At first they tend to regard each other with a mix of suspicion, pity and disdain. Bridget and Gail are openly hostile toward each other but despite most vowing not to return at some point or other, they find themselves coming back week after week. Knowing that they can talk within that room and be supported by others that understand what they’re going through must be quite a powerful drawcard. That’s not to say there’s not judgement at times. There is. But they come to rely on each other, to travel towards a very unusual sort of friendship. I really enjoyed that evolution.
This could be a book that is about the details of sexual infidelity but it’s not. It’s really about the women and the betrayal that they face by their partners and how that makes them feel. The actual infidelity is what brings them together but the core of the story is these women and how they find the strength in their Wednesday group to carry on, to keep working through their differences with their partner or as the case may be, to not do that and forge a different path. Their stories were all really interesting to me with the possible exception of Flavia as I don’t really felt she was a large enough part of the story to really matter. I think she maybe just served as the character who runs away from the problem, hoping that will fix it. We will never know if it did or not.
The only thing I feel is a downside of this book is that I wanted more. I felt that there was a lot left unsaid at the end of the story which was no doubt deliberate but drives me mad because I’m the sort of person that needs closure. I think the story between Hannah and her husband was the one most left hanging and I found that I wanted to know so much more about his betrayal. It cuts her so deep that she can’t even bring herself to tell the other members of the group for the longest time – because in a list of humiliations I think Hannah feels hers far surpasses what the other women are going through. She also has children and the impact on them, especially their daughter is becoming extremely significant. Hannah doesn’t seem to realise that the careful politeness between her and her husband plus an extremely rigid schedule that she’s worked out, is making matters worse. There’s a huge amount of anger in Hannah and I wasn’t actually sure why she continued to stay with her husband. It didn’t seem like something she’d ever really be able to get past – or that he would ever give up. I really wished there was a lot more to their story.
Book #50 of 2015