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First You Try Everything

2.98  ·  Rating details ·  450 ratings  ·  109 reviews
An engrossing tale of a marriage that’s falling apart and a wife who will stop at nothing to keep it together.

From their early days in college, Evvie and Ben were drawn to each other by feelings of isolation stemming from their wounded childhoods, passionate idealism, and zeal for music. Sheltered by their love, they weathered the challenges and trials of the imperfect wo
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by Harper
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2.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  450 ratings  ·  109 reviews

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Will Byrnes
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
In the film, A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s character, Colonel Nathan Jessup, barks at the courtroom, “You can’t handle the truth.” If you can’t handle some truth about marriage, then First You Try Everything is not the book for you.

Evvie Muldoone is a happy-go-lucky sort, a free spirit, a person with a huge heart, but maybe not the best focus. She experiences great pain and great love, is eager to defend our feathered friends from the horrors of foi gras, and meat animals from their factory
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
First You Try Everything reminds me of opening a Wal-Mart package and finding a Tiffany bracelet inside. It’s unexpected and it shines.

I expected something else: a quirky book about a woman who is driven over the edge by a cheating husband and an impending divorce. Instead, this book is about two good people who are no longer good together and it authentically mines the emotions that ensue from that decision

Evvie is an emotionally fragile woman, the victim of a wounded childhood, who marries a m
Jul 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebooks, reviewed
A unique story of a marriage, separation and the psychological intrigue of obsessive love: "First You Try Everything" written by award winning novelist and short story writer Jane McCafferty.
After 16 years of marriage, Evvie was stunned when her husband Ben announced he had grown in "unexpected" ways and rented an apartment in a nearby vicinity, leaving her. Frantically she pleads: "No Ben, I'm sorry! Ben, I'm sorry! I'm sorry for everything! I'll calm down, I'll change, I'll go on meds, I'll g
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
While I found the story and writing interesting enough, and I wanted to know how things worked out, I did not really like this book. I'm not sure if the author meant for Evvie to be a sympathetic character, but I found her to be silly, self-involved and insensitive. Even her love for animals and tireless efforts to campaign for their rights came off as selfish indulgence. I understood why Ben had had enough of her and I felt no sympathy for her; her attempts to "get him back" were cringe inducin ...more
Jill Meyer
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
What do you do when love dies? Not your partner, but the love between you and your partner? Do you sink into despair and adopt the ways of the sorrowed? Do you try to "win" your partner back by trying to be all the things you think you partner wants you to be? If you're Evvie Muldoone, a 41 year old wife in Pittsburgh, you do all the above, plus a little more. It's the "little more" that gets Evvie into a bit of trouble. Jane McCafferty's first novel, "First You Try Everything", is a story about ...more
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-books
When I was offered the opportunity to read First You Try Everything by Jane McCafferty, I immediately said yes based on one single fact – I loved the cover. Knowing that the book was about the dissolution of a marriage, the cover art on the book jacket is just genius. You can see it to the left, there – six rows of musical staves slowly unraveling. The coloration of the title’s font also changes – starting as a rosy pinkish red and ending as a deep maroon with a decidedly blood-like quality. If ...more
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
It is hard for women, as I'm sure everyone knows.

If you don't try and save your marriage, you are a coward.

If you try and save your marriage with desperation, you are needy and clingy, and that's almost worse.

The main character of this book, Evvie Muldoone, is the latter. At least, that is how I'm seeing her perceived in these reviews. I saw so much of myself in her that I could not hate her character. Nor did I hate the character of Ben.

Evvie is someone who feels too much and dreams too big.
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: local-author, fiction
I'm going to try to review this, though I'm exhausted and my brain is all jumbled up. Part of me thinks I should pack it in and not worry about this review. But, I've already tried that tonight and I can't stop thinking about this book and the review.

First You Try Everything: A Novel grabbed my fancy as soon as it was released. I put it in the 'to-read' stacks and forgot about it. Then I stumbled across it at the library with a big sticker on the spine declaring it written by a local author. Th
Jul 27, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a pleasant surprise. Once more I am victim to the skinny shelf of newish books in my ghetto library - I grabbed this with no preconceived notion and figured it might be horrible; it was actually - while by no means outstanding and by many means rather strange - a decent read with some real nice gems in there.
As one GR reader put it, I too am curious/gossipy about relationships - I don't know, somehow the interactions and dynamics of other people have always fascinated me, and all the mo
Sarah Cypher
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
The novel's two POV protagonists, Evvie and Ben, find themselves on the other side of true love: in their early forties, each puzzled by the person their spouse has become. When Ben leaves Evvie for a more emotionally stable woman, Evvie loses her last kite string to earth and begins to look for ways to bring Ben back to her. What results is a potentially violent ploy that is equal parts darkness and innocence.

First You Try Everything is not misty-edged, upmarket women's fiction. It's raw, unpre
Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
There are books that are about sad or deep topics that make you think, but don't bring the mood down and then there are books that just quite bring the mood to the pits. This one is of the latter group. What a debbie downer that left me hoping that no one would compare me with Evvie and her crazy antics to get her estranged husband back.

Evvie went to the ends of the earth to try to repair her marriage that was holding on by a string until the string broke. She went above and beyond, hence the t
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I stayed up late reading this last night, hungry to find out what happens in the end--and then I couldn't sleep, thinking about how perfect it is.

This isn't another book about a divorce. It's told with wit and a rare ability to present two sides of a story so effectively that you find yourself rooting for both people.

McCafferty tells the story of a husband and wife, but she laces in childhood, courtship, marriage and career so deftly that you suddenly understand who each is to the bone, and wh
Dec 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaway-wins
I got this book in the mail and started reading it. I realized that it was unedited so, most of the books had lots of errors, long paragraphs, and unnecessary wording. It was very creative though. The characters were unlike most characters I've come across in books. They were crazy and psychotic. The whole time I was wondering if it should've been a romantic humor book. I found myself laughing at Evvie way too much. Well, over-all it was decent.
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I started reading this book and found I could not put it down until I finished the book. It was impossible to for me to quit reading until I found out what happened to the main characters. Any book which keeps my interest late into the night is extraordinary.
Feb 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
There was something discombobulating about reading this book that made me not like it. The main character Evvie and Ben are a couple with a marriage on the decline. Evvie was clearly insane. So why did Ben like her in the first place ? Neither character was interesting nor relatable to me.
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I picked this book up because the blurb said "fans of Anne Tyler will enjoy this unpredictable, off-beat novel." Well, yes, it was unpredictable and off-beat.

First You Try Everything is a weird book with two distinct halves. In the first half, we have the story of a faltering marriage between two fascinating individuals. Evvie, the main character, is quirky, fun, and a bit crazy. Nice writing and some interesting turns of phrase ("This all flashed through her like a sneeze"). And then comes the
Anne Raeff
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written book about the end of love and about how hard it is to let go. The heroine of the novel, Evvie, is a wonderfully flawed woman who has lost her way in the world and we weep and laugh with her as she tries desperately to hang on to her husband and to find herself in her grief. Evvie is all of us at our most vulnerable and our most poetic.
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Prize-winning author Jane McCafferty delivers a wry, engrossing, and provocative tale of the radical chances an anguished woman will take to try to save her crumbling marriage. As love’s loss and the death of dreams push Evie to the edge of obsession and to a spectacularly outlandish scheme, one which will have unexpected consequences for all involved. Following her acclaimed debut novel One Heart, which Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isabelle, calls "a lovely book, full of surprises, with ...more
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I am in awe of Jane McCafferty’s writing. It is deft and deceptively simple. Every page is full of fresh, touching details and clever phrases. This story is light-hearted and serious, funny and heartbreaking. It is never showy or mannered or labored.

The plot moves along well and ends with a satisfying blend of surprise and inevitability. It is well structured with great twists and permanent, wrenching consequences. McCafferty is never overly dramatic; rather, she uses well observed, small detai
Bonnie Brody
Feb 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
First You Try Everything: A Novel is a well-written novel that took me by surprise at how good it was. It is an insightful look into the heart-breaking devastation of lost love from the viewpoint of the two protagonists, Evvie and Ben.

Evvie and Ben have been together for almost 17 years when Ben decides to leave her. It virtually destroys Evvie's already fragile psyche. Evvie is a woman of extremes, highs and lows, introversion and extroversion, independence and dependency. However, she is total
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird but well written

This book is incredibly literate and full of rich imagery. Not sure that I really liked the alternating perspectives approach. I just finished a book like that recently, and it was a tough read. But the writer uses her words and images so skillfully that I would have to say that I liked the book although the plot was completely bizarre.
Lori Anaple
May 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: affair-books, 2013
I went to see this movie once called The Breakup. It starred Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston and looked to be really quirky and funny. It was not. It was appropriately named since I was held hostage in a movie theatre watching a painful breakup. This book, too looked quirky and funny yet heartwarming. But, sadly, it suffered from The Breakup syndrome. At least the movie had so e extremely funny portions. There was nothing funny in this book. It was really heart wrenching. Perhaps because I hav ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
First You Try Everything is about the unraveling of a marriage and what a wife is willing to do to bring her husband back to her. Evvie loves Ben and feels that she cannot function without him, when he tells her he wants a divorce her whole world falls apart. While reading the book we watch Evvie become more and more unstable until she does something drastic and dangerous to keep Ben from leaving her. The book is told from both Evvie's and Ben's point of view and we get a close up, personal look ...more
Jillian (PidginPea's Book Nook)
I received this book for free as a First Reads giveaway.

It's been a while since I read a book like this one. It made me think, it tore at my heart, and it confused me. Reading this book was like being on a roller coaster: at first I enjoyed it, but halfway through the ride I started wanting to get off.

McCafferty has an elegant writing style that drew me in from page one. At times the words spoke right to my heart, as if the author was writing just for me. There were quite a few moments where I
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Evvie and Ben are a middle aged couple that have drifted apart. They don’t have children and live quite separate lives. Separate enough for Ben to start an affair with Lauren, a single mother.

Not much later, he moves out and Evvie is left on her own. She doesn’t know Ben has found someone else and expects them to get back together again. She phones and visits him much more often than he is happy with.

She is desperate get back together and eventually, she finds a drastic way to get Ben back again
Mar 26, 2012 rated it liked it
I can be a little nosy when it comes to relationships (simply because the structure of them can be so fascinating). Thus, I couldn't really bring myself to put this book down. In some ways, maybe my affinity to this book is in that I see a little of myself in every character. It is a crazy modern-day anti-love story that I would say is a little bit fantastical if I didn't happen to know people for whom this may not be out of the realm of possibility!

The story is of Evvie and Ben, whose relations
Dec 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Switching between characters, this novel tells the story of a marriage ending and shows one partner unravelling as the other begins to move forward. In early chapters, I related a bit to some of the descriptions of Evvie from Ben's viewpoint but she quickly began to deteriorate and a troubling underside to her became clear. She has trouble accepting Ben's departure and her sanity begins to crumble over time. Ben is concerned but is trying to walk the line between being supportive and giving her ...more
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2012
I'm always drawn to books about heartbreak and I guess I am some sort of masochist, because I enjoy reading books that I know will make me feel sad. I knew I wanted to read this when I first read the summary and I was easily pulled into Evvie and Ben's story because it is a bit strange but also because it felt familiar. I instantly connected with both characters and was absorbed with their pain, wanting to know more.

Evvie and Ben have been together for 16 years, but things have felt a bit wrong
Feb 08, 2013 rated it liked it
First You Try Everything indeed. After reading fabulous reviews when this first came out, I finally moved it up out of my “Amazon saved for later” cart into “purchase.” Basic premise: a mid-40s couple is unhappy in their marriage. Not exactly the most earth-shattering of plotlines. This reminded me in tone of several books I’ve read recently including The Middlesteins and Seating Arrangements. I think it’s the depressed middle aged themes and the strong writing. You don’t much care about the peo ...more
Jan 25, 2012 marked it as to-read
This book is an evocative read about obsessive love, and not at all what I expected. I didn’t want to read it at first, but was on a long trip and a friend whose opinion I respect handed it to me to pass time. I was engrossed in no time at all in this painful yet beautiful story.

Evvie and Ben are in love, but Evvie is idealistic, needy and a bit insane—she talks to herself in public and lacks true purpose despite her radical idealism and commitment to animal rights. She clings to her soulmate,
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Jane McCafferty is the author of the novel One Heart and two collections of stories, Thank You for the Music and Director of the World and Other Stories, which won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. She is the recipient of an NEA award, the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. She lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“It was true that she was still not a follow-through person, but rather one of those often befuddled souls who seem paralyzed by the exorbitant weight of their own good intentions.” 0 likes
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