Thursday, October 25, 2012
Happens Every Day
Isabel Gillies had it all: handsome, smart, college professor husband; two beautiful sons; and a big house in a small town. The happy couple had known each other from childhood when their families summered together in Maine. Both are products of old money WASP families that had lost the dough, but retained the pedigree. They matriculated from ivy league schools, had their wedding announced in the New York Times and decorated their Ohio home with celery fabric from New York. Then one day, Sylvia, a new English professor arrives at Oberlin, where Gillies and her husband were employed , and within a month Gillies's marriage is over.
Happens Every Day tells the tale of the "perfect" couple's uncoupling. Gillies is searingly honest and, at times, quite funny, as she explains,: "I am not a writer, but I have been told I write a good emails, which has led me . . . to tell my story." And what a story it is, Gillies husband is a two-timing louse who quickly takes up with his colleague and Gillies's friend Sylvia. Oh and by the way, Sylvia is married too. Clearly, both Gillies' husband and her friend are lacking a tad in the morals and ethics department.
Still while I deeply sympathized with Gillies, I can't say that I liked her. She is clearly enamored of her pedigree and lifestyle which became annoying. For example, this is a typical passage:
I had completely accepted the fact that I was going to take on a new role of housewife. A stay at home mom is a glamorous title that mothers in New York tend to use, but in the rest of the country where people rarely have nannies, Fresh Direct, or housekeepers, the more applicable term is housewife. I got a thrill out of knowing that I was going to take on my children without help, cook every meal, and go it on my own in a new town where I knew nobody.
Ok I am sure this was a big lifestyle adjustment for the former Law and Order actress, but being a stay at home mom or a housewife is still a privilege of sorts as many families require two incomes to survive. Another thing that bothered me was that Gillies's husband's behavior was entirely predictable given that he had cheated on his pregnant first wife with another woman (not Gillies). I don't want to blame the victim, but perhaps a good take away is that adulterers tend to repeat the pattern. Lastly, I was annoyed that Gillies' post-divorce life is left for another memoir.
These deficiencies aside, Happens Every Day is an engrossing story that left me wanting more.