Title: Beside Herself
Author: Elizabeth LaBan
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Genre: Women’s Fiction
With her signature wit and charm, bestselling author Elizabeth LaBan shows how marriage doesn’t necessarily follow a straight line and unexpected detours might just bring you back to the place you most want to be.
When she finds out her husband cheated, Hannah Bent thinks her marriage is over. Isn’t that what happens after an affair? But she’s seen friends divorce, and it’s not pretty. Plus, she and Joel have kids and an otherwise-happy life, and she still loves him, although begrudgingly.
Furious and feeling stuck, she suggests having her own affair to even the score. Joel, desperate for forgiveness, agrees. But does she really want to go through with it? And how exactly does a married mother of two get back in the dating pool? Many awkward dates follow until she finds a deep and unexpected connection where she was least looking for it.
Just as she thinks she’s made a decision, her journey to happiness is waylaid by storms of doubt. But the important thing is that she’s finally figuring out what she truly wants for herself, and she understands that whatever choice she makes must be hers and hers alone.
Why This Book
I have to say right off the bat I was not a big fan of Beside Herself. It does, though, meet the criteria for this month’s theme, which wasn’t easy to find books for, as it has a married couple. Unfortunately, the husband made a bad decision and basically spends the rest of the book regretting and atoning for it, but I won’t lie and say he wasn’t annoying. Fortunately, his wife is just as annoying, so they really were quite the pair. There is a scene that finally turns the tides in this book, and I can only hope it’ll make Hannah and Joel stronger in the future, as they’re anything but when we first meet them. And I feel sorry for their children who got dragged into this family drama and were basically ignored.
My review: “This book brings up an interesting question, one that I don’t think it could answer as every couple and every affair is different. But, for the purposes of this story and this couple, I think it was a good answer. Hannah’s husband was willing to do anything necessary to keep her, and she just had a lot of anger to process. I’m disappointed it took most of the book before her anger began to abate, but I’m so glad she had a key moment that brought understanding and a definite direction to her”
Kirkus Reviews said “Given the situation, Hannah’s rage makes complete sense, and LaBan provides enough details about Hannah and Joel’s past to help readers see why Hannah would struggle with the idea of leaving him. Refreshingly, LaBan resists making any of her characters into stereotypical villains, instead painting them as complex, flawed human beings.”
emissourian.com recommended this one, saying “We relive Hannah’s relationship with her husband, we experience her friend Kim’s sad divorce, and we see Hannah struggle through some bad dates and discover exactly what she is looking for”
Jennifer~Tar Heel Reader said “Hannah’s story definitely intrigued me. It was interesting to have a different take on a cheating spouse and to watch Hannah grow as a character.”
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Check out all the other books featured this month on The Curated Bookshelf.
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