What a lovely book. A woman named Sarah (seemingly!) abruptly ends her affair with a writer named Bendrix. Bendrix bumps into Sarah’s distraught husband some time later, who reveals that Sarah seems to be having an affair. Jealous that she might have a new lover, Bendrix takes it upon himself to hire a private investigator “for Henry.” The investigator gets his hands on Sarah’s journal and Bendrix discovers what’s really gone on.
This book was of particular interest to me because of my great grandmother. In early 1946, she walked out on her husband and three daughters to start a new life with a one-armed writer. She had a daughter with him (my grandmother) and died of cancer a few years later. No one’s ever known what exactly made her walk out the door, although it appears to have just been love. Obviously this was just not something you did as a woman in 1946, and considering that many of the events in this book took place during the months when my grandmother was conceived, it was extremely interesting to have some pertinent cultural context.
Green writes an incredible tortured lover. Bendrix’s anger and jealousy and festering love are just palpable. I see that some Goodreads reviewers find Sarah to be less fleshed out and real, but I couldn’t disagree more. I’m not sure what exactly I found so relatable considering that I am not in any way cheating on my husband, but something about her reasons for staying with Henry struck a tremendous chord with me. I loved that Green just lets her inconsistency stand without bending over backwards to rationalize it. It makes her feel incredibly real. All in all a solid 4.5 stars, the only thing keeping it from a true 5 is that the end seems to go on a bit longer than necessary. Still not a long book, but it felt lopsided.
Read with some Adele playing for some proof of the continuity of complex and lovely relationship angst.