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The Stuff That Never Happened

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  2,899 Ratings  ·  351 Reviews
What if you were married to a wonderful husband for twenty-eight years but in love with another man? What if you were in love with them both?

Annabelle McKay knows she shouldn’t have any complaints. She’s been in a stable marriage that’s lasted almost three decades and has provided her with two wonderful children, thousands of family dinners around a sturdy oak table, and a
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Broadway Books (first published 2010)
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Girls Gone Reading
The Stuff that Never Happened took a hold of me early, and it never let me know. I was initially intrigued by the mystery of the plot: What could their big secret be? What could be so bad in your marriage that you would rather just ignore it? But the mystery aspect of the novel was just enough to get me into the plot. Then Annabelle and the fantastic story took over.

Usually, I have a little trouble with narrators. Sometimes I find them frustrating. Sometimes I wish they would turn right when the
May 08, 2011 Meghan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I really enjoyed this entire book. It was sweet and charming and the situations and characters and dialogue all felt real to me.

This book goes back and forth between the late 1970s and 2005. Annabelle impulsively marries a nice guy who she barely knows when she is 21 years old and then ends up having a very serious love affair with a married man. 28 years later, Annabelle is still married to her husband Grant and as the book unfolds we find out all the stuff that happened...and all the stuff th
Jo Anne B
Jul 09, 2011 Jo Anne B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ended up really loving this honest portrayl of a woman torn between two men. I almost put it down in the beginning because I didn't think the characters clicked but I am glad I stuck with it. Turns out the reason I almost stopped reading this was the reason for the story in the first place.

Anabelle, a fifty year old empty nester, takes a look back at her marriage of 28 years to Grant. With the kids gone she is not getting the attention and love she needs from her husband who is a boring, rigi
Feb 04, 2011 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I cant believe how many people rated this book so favorably and said they enjoyed and even liked the characters. I found the main character incredbily self absorbed and selfish. The betrayal of her young husband was just disgusting to me and the fact that she continued to perseverate on the other man for so many years while she was still married, seemed so unfair to her husnad. However, I didnt really like Grant or Jeremiah that much either.
The book was an easy read and had some enjoyable parts
Apr 01, 2015 TG rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think this book was meant to be about love, family, and the consequences of our actions. I think that the author intended that you feel for the main character Annabelle and her inattentive husband who is so involved in his work that he even schedules sex. However, I saw this book as a story of selfishness and infidelity by Annabelle. I didn't feel sorry for her at all. She chose to suddenly marry Grant and follow him to New York City. And as soon as things got difficult, Annabelle had an affai ...more
Nov 08, 2014 Silvia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grant e Annabelle sono sposati da molti anni, vivono nel New Hampshire e trascorrono un’esistenza monotona e grigia. I figli, Nick e Sophie, ormai sono grandi, hanno le loro vite e vivono lontano, Grant è ossessionato dal libro che sta scrivendo e ad Annabelle, costantemente in preda a crisi di nervi, non resta che fare la donna di casa, trascurata dal marito col quale fa l’amore ogni mercoledì mattina. Le improvvise complicazioni durante la gravidanza della figlia Sophie, permettono ad Annabell ...more
Jul 15, 2016 Greta rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Vorrei precisare che non l'ho finito, non ci sono riuscita. Arrivi a metà e ti viene spontaneo suicidarti con il tuo Kobo in mano. Troppo palloso e troppo fastidioso, arrivata a metà non ce l'ho più fatta e l'ho persino tolto dal mio Kobo. Sapevo che non dovevo fidarmi di storie di cinquantenni che hanno crisi matrimoniali e blablabla. Ma la parte peggiore era nei flashback di quando si sono conosciuti, palloso il doppio. Grant è uno di quei personaggi che ti viene voglia di dargli quattro schia ...more
Apr 20, 2010 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written look into the choices we make in our past and the consequences that they carry long into the future. I really enjoyed this one.
Feb 12, 2011 Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was full of amazing quotes that will resonate with me for awhile. My favorite parts: "I tell her the thing I truly believe - that sex and love and parenthood and complications can coexist, that you can be happy even when sex is something you steal away for once you've gotten the last of the dishes washed and the kid with the fever to finally go to sleep. But then my throat is suddenly clogged up with so much sadness and longing and regret that I think I will choke. It's because of toda ...more
May 25, 2011 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This was an excellent book, I feel like I could go on reading about Grant and Annabelle forever. I want to read about them growing old together. The story is told in alternating chapters between the beginning of Grant and Annabelle's marriage in the 1970's and currently, 2005 as they face the trials of begin married 20+ years.

What makes this book work so successfuly is the characterization. I really feel that Grant and Annabelle are fully fleshed characters. I understand why they do what they d
This book freaked me out: it was the first package that was delivered to me in my new apartment. The apartment I just moved into with my boyfriend. With only my boyfriend. Now, I knew when I moved into this boyfriend-only apartment that it would lead to marriage. And I hate marriage. Just generally. Now, I know, I know... "don't hate it til you've tried it," and all that. If you say so.

So, The Stuff That Never Happened arrives, and here's this empty-nesting lady-mom deciding that she's going to
Karen Skinner
Oct 16, 2011 Karen Skinner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I know this feeling: It's a cousin of the mood that made me cry among the pork chops." This book may not resonate for you if you have never wept in the aisles of Whole Foods, but so far I am eagerly picking it up in my spare moments. There's a mother who dabbles in art, and there's a daughter who is going to be a mother. There's a lot more but those are my basic requirements.
La mia recensione completa la trovate qua

Annabelle e Grant sono una coppia sposata da quasi 30 anni. Si sono conosciuti all'università, si sono amati, si sono sposati, hanno messo al mondo due figli. Sembrerebbe tutto idiliaco se non fosse che, 26 anni prima, Annabelle tradì il neo-sposo con un Jeremiah, un loro carissimo amico.
Storia superata, crisi accantonata e amore familiare al top, tanto che ora stanno per diventare nonni. Ed è durante una visita all
Jun 13, 2016 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it either. It was better than "meh" but less than "wow". I don't know what compelled me to read a book with such a difficult plot. It was like reading real life events and even though I relate, it wasn't a revelation. I know this probably doesn't make sense, but all I can say is if you want to read a story with characters who are as close to real people as I've ever met, this is a good book for that. If you've never experienced life to the deg
Catherine McKenzie
Really glad I picked this up. Maddie Dawson has a great way with character; the main character here is just as realistic as a slightly lost, a little wild twenty-year old as she is as a down to earth fifty year old. Recommend.
I had hopes for Maddie Dawson’s The Stuff That Never Happened considering the story is centered around the complicated world of relationships specifically marriage. And yet, about over halfway through the book, it hit me that I’m just basically going through the motions of reading the book with the intent of getting to the finish line. After that realization, it was time to figure out why I wasn’t as engaged in the book as I hoped I would be and it inevitably boils down to what has often happene ...more
May 18, 2014 Jules rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

This book had a real feel to it. Loved the messages about marriage and the mother and daughter heart-to-heart conversations. Sadly, I couldn't feel the connection between her and Grant. He seemed self-absorbed and selfish. He was always working. How could a college professor be that busy. (view spoiler)

Favorite passag
Jan 12, 2012 CC rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I wanted to like this more than I did. The cover, for one, is beyond awesome. And the setting, New Hamsphire, is just different enough to evoke intrigue. With those two things going for it I didn't even read the jacket copy, I just swooped it up.

New Hampshire resident Annabelle McKay is having a midlife crisis. With her kids gone and her professor husband Grant working on a novel, she finds herself thinking about an affair she had in her twenties with a man named Jeremiah. The book alter
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
When Annabelle and Grant got married, they really didn’t know each other all that well. They moved across the country and lived with another young couple and their two children. Something happens in those early years that will haunt their marriage for the rest of their lives. Rather than talk about it, Grant makes Annabelle agree to never mention it again, and in effect, pretend that it never happened. On the surface, that seems to work – they move to New Hampshire, raise two children and seem t ...more
Dec 20, 2011 Sonia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Credo che a volte, tra le centinaia di letture in cui siamo immersi durante l'anno, sia un bene trovare una storia che non appartiene al nostro genere, che non avremmo preferito se qualcuno ce ne avesse parlato, di fronte a cui forse avremmo storto il naso.
La trama di Facciamo finta che non sia successo niente mi aveva attratta a suo modo, ma ritrovarmi in quella storia mi aveva fatta sentire un'intrusa: non voglio leggere di storie quotidiane di amori che si trascinano, che forse sfociano in tr
Jun 13, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this novel, about the "what-if" person who enters our minds unbidden but can't be forgotten--and almost every woman I know has a person like that. It reads so true.

"Maybe this is common. Perhaps the whole human race goes around with an ache like this. Maybe we're all dreaming of a person from the tantalizing past who sits there, uninvited, watching from the edge of our consciousness, somebody you find packing up and moving out of your head just as you're waking up in the morning, and wh
A. R.
Oct 27, 2011 A. R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If it hadn't been for the language in this book I would have given it four stars. I'm picky in how much profanity I will tolerate in a book and this was one had a little too much.

But putting that aside - I thought The Stuff That Never Happened was a very interesting look at marriage and extramarital affairs. An interesting look at what constitutes real solid love over the passionate, rip your clothes off kind of excitement. I found myself asking if the later was truly love or just an adrenaline
Feb 26, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Annabelle is about my age and going through some of the same things (not the affair...I promise!) Just that empty next thing. Here's a funny passage:

"...let me tell you: the one with the most free time loses in all marital discussions. It's a given. So, if you're the less busy person, take my advice and fake extreme busyness...."Well, that leaves me out, I'm afraid, because nobody on earth could be busier than Grant"... then you'll have to go to Plan B, which is just
Jun 25, 2015 Aly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Despite wanting to reach into the book and give one character or another a good shake and tell him or her to stop being such an idiot on more than one occasion, I really enjoyed this story. It's an easy read, but not overly fluffy, with a strong (and sometimes coarse) voice. The author read most of the first chapter at an event in my local library and had me hooked!
Dec 21, 2015 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.
KiKi Johnson
I liked this book. I liked most of it a great deal. It was well written. I was intrigued from the beginning. Who was this man Annabelle was in love with? As she told the story, it was more intriguing. To have a character do something as deplorable as Annabelle and still be able to root for her is rare in a book. I actually rooted for the forbidden relationship that she eventually lost. I thought things would have turned out differently. All those years later when she and the man of the elicit af ...more
Wvqueen1 Cockerham
Loved it. Let me say it again: Loved this book. Read it.

The writing is great, the story--heart-breaking b/c it is so real and so true, but uplifting for the same reasons. It's honest. The characters are people you know--maybe you, yourself? Loved the generations of women, how the questions kept going to the next generation, and the answers too, though each generation has to find the answers for themselves. Read it, Now.
Kellie Reynolds
Jun 23, 2015 Kellie Reynolds rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a few days to understand my feelings and opinion of this book.

My main issue was that I did not understand the relationships between the two couples- Grant and Annabelle; Jeremiah and Carly.

The book follows the relationship between the couples from beginning to end. There is a lot of family background about the main character- Annabelle. She is a product of her time (college in late 70s) and her newly feminist mom.
I don't understand her initial attraction to her husband, Grant. By t
Hmmm... This book left me with a mix of emotions. I was disappointed that Jeremiah did not meet her so they could start their life together back in the 80s. However it really shows you that he was a lying scum bag from day one! Especially when the lovers meet up later in life and he is showing his true colors to her. Grant on the other hand I have even more mixed emotions about... Sometimes I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs at how grant acted. I'm sorry but there is nothing that importan ...more
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52 weeks, 52 books: Week 2014.16: The Stuff That Never Happened 6 66 Apr 22, 2015 06:47PM  
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I'm the author of two novels, published by Crown--The Opposite of Maybe, which came out in April 2014, and The Stuff That Never Happened, which was published in August 2010. I love writing stories about second chances and complicated love lives.

I have also written three novels under the name Sandi Kahn Shelton.
More about Maddie Dawson...

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“Listen. I don’t know how to do this right, but I really, really love you,” he said, and cleared his throat. He licked his lips and started talking fast. “I think you’re the sweetest, most beautiful girl in the world, and I’ve been living for our telephone conversations. It’s the only thing that gets me through these days, knowing that I get to talk to you every night. Keeping the secret about this job was the hardest thing for me to do, but I wanted to tell you in person. And ever since I knew I was going to come here and ask you this, I couldn’t eat or drink anything. And I know I’m different from you, and I’m probably never going to be cool, but I love yourpaintings, I love that you do art, I get it, and I won’t ever tell you that you should do paintings that match somebody’s couch. I will keep you in paint and canvases for the rest of your life, and if you really want to teach elementary school, then I think you’ll be the best teacher there ever was. And I love that you dress so cute, and I love the way you smell and the way you sing in the shower. I used to camp out on the floor outside the door when you were showering just so I could hear you, and the first time we made love was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I was so afraid you were going to say it couldn’t happen again. I just want to spend all my time looking at you and telling you things, and even though I’m just some nerd who thinks about strikes and contracts all the time, I want you to know that I’m financially solvent right now, I have some investments, and I’ll always do anything I can to make you happy. Your happiness is going to be the main thing for me. From now on. Forever. I mean that.” 4 likes
“She batted those
eyelashes at me so hard I thought I felt a breeze.”
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