Mary Ronan Drew's Reviews > Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story

Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies
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Feb 21, 2011

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Read from February 20 to 21, 2011

This heartbreaking book is about a happy family. They have recently moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where the husband, Josiah, has landed a teaching job, and they’ve bought their first house and decorated it with bright light colors and William Morris wallpaper. The wife, Isobel, who also has a job teaching acting at Oberlin, comes home one day with their two little boys and finds Josiah hanging photos from both sides of the family on every inch of the walls of the bathroom. She is touched at his display of family togetherness and pride.

One month later it’s over. When classes begin Josiah meets a new English teacher who is herself just married over the summer, and three weeks later he tells Isobel he can’t stay married to her any longer. Isobel is an actress and she tends to be dramatic but really, who wouldn’t be distraught and act out in this situation? She begs him to reconsider, goes to a family counselor with him, asks herself constantly, “What did I do? What didn’t I do? How can he leave us, me and the boys? How can this be happening?”

The author has a knack for describing social interactions, lake effect snow during an Ohio winter, a normal morning getting the boys up and dressed and out to nursery school. And she has the self-knowledge to observe what she is doing as she does it and how she feels about what is happening to her and her children and to put it on the page so that the reader feels she is experiencing the same joy and anguish and shame and hope and exasperation.

At the end of the semester Isobel goes back to New York City with the boys and moves in with her parents. No one is overjoyed with this solution but they make it work and eventually she makes a new life for herself. Josiah, for whom this is a second divorce, marries the woman for whom he left his family. Isobel finds love and joy with a second husband.

This isn’t the sort of book I tend toward but when I saw it recommended at the web site of Karen (of Bookish NYC),

I sent a sample to my Kindle and couldn’t stop reading at the end of the excerpt. Take a look at Park Avenue Divorce,


which Karen has launched with a friend and former client, with excerpts from the first chapters of a book they
have written together called The Park Avenue Guide to Divorce (Even if You Live on Main Street) which will be available from in July.

Don’t miss the article by Mary Greene in the Mail Online

about Karen Robarge and some of her interesting experiences.

2011 No 33 Coming soon: those books about Estee Lauder I promised you a while back.

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