Thursday, April 28, 2011

REVIEW: Still Life With Husband by Lauren Fox

F This book is April book for the Author's by the Alphabet Book Club as members read our way through the alphabet by authors' last names. Still Life With Husband by Lauren Fox was chosen by BookBelle, this month's host of the book club who blogs at BookBelle. :) For links to other reviews of this book, as well as to check out our discussion of the novel, visit BookBelle's blog HERE. If you'd like to join the Authors by the Alphabet Book Club, we'd love to have you. Visit the sign up post HERE.

Thirty year old Emily Ross is a freelance writer with a part time editor position with a medical journal and has a bad case of marriage blahs. Emily and Kevin have been together for the last nine years since their senior year in college, married for the last five. Kevin, who is employed as a technical writer, is firmly resolved to start a family and buy a house in the suburbs, despite Emily's reservations. Not only that, but Emily is overall discontent with her dispassionate, stale marriage.

While having lunch with her best friend in their favorite coffee shop, Emily--who is not wearing her wedding ring at the time-- meets David Keller, a journalist for an alternative local newspaper with whom she shares an instant, electric connection. Emily and David meet again under the guise of discussing a potential job opportunity for Emily at the newspaper for whom David works, and the two spend hours talking and practically falling for each other as if they were on a spectacular first date. Emily is fully aware that she is crossing the lines of fidelity to her husband and at the same time also dishonest with David as she is slow to reveal her marital status to him. Inevitably, Emily has committed the first of many betrayals that ultimately lead to more poor decisions with irrevocable consequences.

Still Life with Husband is told from the first person point of view of Emily as she wends her way through the mess she makes of her life over several weeks. That's not to say that Emily was not already dissatisfied with her life, however the choices she makes specifically during this time frame actually force her to own up to what really wants out of life. The novel primarily centers on Emily's struggles with her marriage to Kevin, her conflicted feelings of her infidelity, the consequences of her decisions and how she handles it all. It's also about Emily learning to essentially take charge of her own happiness. There are also well crafted story threads involving Emily's relationships with her best friend Meg, her sister Heather and her parents, all of which added richness to Emily's story.

Still Life With Husband is adeptly written in an extremely compelling, articulate and very expressive voice. There's both fantastic humor and depth of emotion at every page and while the plot is not complicated, not once did it feel the least bit predictable and was, in fact, quite the page turner. I didn't want to put the book down, and when I did, I kept wondering what Emily was going to think, feel or do next. What were the consequences of those actions going to be, who was going to get hurt, and how was Emily going to straighten out her life? Would she even straighten out her life? What good could possibly come of this? All I could do was to keep reading.

Truthfully, when I read the book blurb after it was announced as the April book club selection, I was hesitant to read a novel about infidelity. I didn't want to empathize with a protagonist who was cheating on her husband and even worse, I was afraid that the author would glorify infidelity as a whole in some way. Thankfully, neither of those things happened, which I think is a testament to the author's skill at sharing Emily's journey in a way the she could be your sister or your friend. You like her, you know her, you even came to completely understand her even though you don't agree with her actions and yet through it all ... you were there for her.


Still Life With Husband is Lauren Fox's first novel. Her second novel, Friends Like Us, is due to hit shelves in February 2012.


  1. Lovely review Christine - thank you! Hmmm. I don't know if I'd want to read a book in which the character cheats on her husband. It sounds like the author has walked a fine line, but...

  2. Hey! I have to agree with orannia... not sure about the infidelity, it's a sore subject with me.

    Lovely review though, I'll want to have the book spoiled before committing to reading it :)

  3. I know the infidelity thing is a deal breaker for so many of us. I almost didn't read this book club pick for that very same reason, but reminded myself that I joined this book club to help broaden my reading horizons so I made myself borrow it from the library and start reading. And it turns out the book was really difficult to put down. The author's writing totally won me over. I would definitely read another book by Lauren Fox.

    FYI I texted Mariana the spoilers. Anyone else want to know, you know how to reach me. LOL.

  4. So true all, I hate books of betrayal such as this, but yes I did the club to give all a shot and I have had some pleasant surprises in the 2 clubs I'm in.

    Tomes Devotee

  5. I don't mind broadening my horizons in my reading, but there are certain subjects I don't like and infidelity is one of those. (Having watched my parents marriage self destruct over several years....., well, reality is sometimes best left alone.)

    But, I admire you for reading this book and sharing your opinions on the book. Thank you for a thoughtful and well-written book review.

    Hope your weekend is a happy one!

  6. Christine - I think broadening your horizons is a fantastic idea :) I read a book earlier this year which definitely did just that...and I really enjoyed it. WRT this specific book, it's not specifically infidelity but the breaking of trust. I have huge issues with that and...a book dealing with such a subject just wouldn't fit well with me. I guess what I'm trying to say is, I wouldn't want to read it? Maybe when I'm in a better place?

    But I so want to echo what Brandy said - I so admire you for reading a book that broadens your horizons and for writing such an eloquent review :)

  7. Hmmm, interesting, but definitively not for me! but I want to know what happens!! LOL, so you can let me know, Christine :)

    You seem to really enjoy her writing and voice and perhaps, I could try with her next release :)

  8. This sounds like an interesting read even if it contains a touchy subject for many of us. Great review!

  9. I enjoyed your answers on Belle's blog. I never thought marriage counseling, but that definitely was the answer for them.

  10. Fantastic review! I think it's great that you ended up liking this book after being so apprehensive at first. I've noticed, for myself, that when I'm most apprehensive of a book I tend to end up really enjoying it.


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