Heather's Reviews > The Actor and the Housewife

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale
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Mar 03, 12

bookshelves: chick-lit, lds
Recommended to Heather by: Bethany Cathemer
Read in August, 2009, read count: 1

Disclaimer: I'm a Shannon Hale fan. I follow her blog, and I have been to one of her appearances at a local bookstore. In that brief, extremely public encounter, I was pleased to find that she is as delightfully witty, personable, and humble as I had imagined her to be. Maybe she's not like that at home, but she still charmed me. I think she is a stellar writer, and I adore her books. So yes, I am hopelessly biased. I haven't read Austenland, so this is the first S.H. "adult" book that I've read.

I'm not really sure who her target audience was, but I'm pretty sure I fall into whatever readership she had in mind: late-thirties, Mormon, married (to a guy named Mike even!), kids, living freakishly near "Lay-en" Utah. I'm pretty much Becky, sans the talent of repartee, writing screenplays, and making pies from scratch.

I don't know what readers outside this demographic could possibly think of this book, unless they understand Utah LDS culture. Shannon Hale took a large risk with this book, but I also think she did a good job of explaining some of the "quirks" of our religion/lifestyle without being overly preachy.

And the writing! Ahhh, the writing. How I love being transported by her writing! This is classic Hale. I don't know how she comes up with her stuff, but she is so amazing at putting words together (she must have access to a Muse). Even if you don't like the premise of the book, the writing is just dang fun!

I think for where I am in my life, this was a good read. I think earlier in my marriage, it would have made me uncomfortable to even wonder if I could be best friends with a man who was not my hubby. Even now it makes me squirm. Although I don't think most women and men could have the sort of relationship that Felix and Becky did, I applaud Shannon Hale for handling the subject deftly and honestly, and acknowledging the difficulties on both sides that would be inherent in such a friendship. And as much as I wanted them to be able to work it out in the ending, I knew it couldn't work if Becky was going to stay true to herself. So although it wasn't the fairytale ending we sometimes wish for, it was still fulfilling for me.

One thing that bugged me though (and this just shows how shallow and insecure I am), is that I kept feeling like a loser (with a capital L) mom and wife because I don't gush love for my kids and hubby like Becky does. I just couldn't help comparing myself to her on that point. Although, if my hubby got cancer and died (heaven forbid), that might soften me up a bit. See, now that I said it it will happen--I've jinxed myself. I have "happiness anxiety." I'm just waiting for something bad to happen. But enough about me.

Overall, it is fun "chick-lit" with more substance. It is fantasy, but laced with some serious questions for women, and men too. Can women and men be "just friends?" Can you ever be so secure in your marriage that it could weather an outside opposite-gender friendship, or is that fodder for adultery? If your spouse was okay with such a friendship, could you handle to criticism from outside sources? What do you consider being unfaithful? Is emotional intimacy more dangerous than physical? Is there such thing as friend-at-first-sight? Are some people drawn to each other platonically ? Does God "put" certain people in our path for a reason? These are some of the questions this book raised for me. And I like being able to explore these ideas within the safety of a fictional world.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Madelina (new)

Madelina You got a hold of a copy! Can't wait to hear what you think!


Kysha Good to hear your review. I'm excited to read it.


DaNae I still think we should do it for book club. I want to win the contest! My copy keeps beconning to me, but so do so many other books.


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