Jon's Reviews > Happens Every Day: An All Too True Story

Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies
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's review
Sep 24, 2010

really liked it

The story of the breakup of a "perfect" marriage written by the wife, Isabel, with striking candor and an amazing ability to transcend her anger and bewilderment. It's the bewilderment that stuck with me: her description of being blindsided by the sudden destruction of her whole life was truly unforgettable. My wife read the book just before I did, and she had no hesitation in laying blame on the husband and his coldly calculating new lover. That's certainly a possible reading, but I found the whole thing far more ambiguous, because Isabel never gives us enough evidence to know exactly what happened. SHE didn't (and apparently still doesn't) know exactly what happened. Her husband was completely uncommunicative, simply repeating over and over that he couldn't go on with this life any more, without ever explaining or even trying to explain either why or when the difficulty started. The new lover, who we learn in the end became his third wife, is similarly opaque. We never know for sure that an affair was going on, and if it was, whether it was the cause or merely the occasion of the husband's inability to stay in the marriage. Meanwhile Isabel flounders, both in the story and as the narrator, mixing up chronology, leaving many events undated, scrupulously describing even her own hysterical and embarrassing outbursts, and purposely (in my view) preventing the reader from condemning anyone. An amazing description of a breakup, written with great generosity.
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04/18/2016 marked as: read

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