Lauren's Reviews > The First Husband

The First Husband by Laura Dave
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Oct 03, 2012

really liked it

Laura Dave’s modern love story embedded within The First Husband highlights what it means to make poignant romantic choices, but even more importantly, her complex protagonist demonstrates the pivotal journey of what it means to be in touch with your authentic self.

The novel features thirty-one year old Annie Adams, a travel writer who never stays in one spot for too long a period of time. Her popular column allows her to always be on the move, moving from one exotic location to the next and escaping reality at every turn.

When she does go back to her ‘home base’ in Los Angeles, she returns to her shared life with Nick Campbell, her boyfriend of five years. All appeared to be going well until it wasn’t. Nick abruptly breaks up with Annie after rekindling a friendship with a girl from his past, while also alluding to not feeling ‘settled’ in their freewheeling life together.

Several days go by before a distraught Annie decides she’s ready to go out on the town; even if she’s alone, wearing a yellow dress and walking into a local bar after hours. While there, she meets Griffin, a chef from Williamsburg, Massachusetts, who wants to give her everything she never knew she wanted, and that includes stability. Three months later, Annie and Griffin are married. She’s immersed into his world, a charming, small town in western Mass., which includes an uptight mother-in- law, an ex- girlfriend/(now)friend with a heavy history, and a brother with baggage of his own.

As Annie begins to question her sense of belonging, Nick enters the picture once more, with hopes of a second chance and with the desire to give her the life he thinks they are both meant to have.

But what does Annie want? Dave’s approach is unlike other novels in the women’s fiction genre. As opposed to storylines that center around choosing between a past and current love (i.e., Emily Giffin’s heartfelt story in Love the One You’re With), My First Husband emphasizes how it’s more about Annie than either of the guys who are looking to win her over.

“Annie is in a struggle to find her authentic self,” Dave said in an interview. “What truly makes her happy vs. the idea she had about what should bring her joy. Ultimately, in choosing a partner who appreciates and loves her, Annie is choosing to be the most authentic version of herself. Her relationship asks that of her.”

Annie ultimately chooses the relationship that allows her to cultivate her best self, with the person who encourages that kind of growth.

Now, why title the book “the first husband,” since it hints that more than one is involved? Dave’s mindset for this nuance is forthcoming and honest as well. “The First Husband title is also a bit of a wink to Nick, who Annie thought was going to be her life partner,” Dave said. “So many of us, like Annie, have such serious relationships before marriage that this person we end up parting with is almost like a first husband or first wife.”

All in all, I must echo the praise given by NY Times bestselling author, Allison Winn Scotch. “For anyone who wonders if she has found ‘the one,’ The First Husband is a wonderfully witty novel about love and loss, and about how to find a happy home. I loved every moment, every page, and you will too.”
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