Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Stuff That Never Happened” as Want to Read:
The Stuff That Never Happened
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Stuff That Never Happened

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  4,489 ratings  ·  459 reviews
What if you were married to a wonderful husband for twenty-eight years but in love with another man? What if you were in love with them both?
Annabelle McKay knows she shouldn’t have any complaints. She’s been in a stable marriage that’s lasted almost three decades and has provided her with two wonderful children, thousands of family dinners around a sturdy oak table, and
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by Crown (first published 2010)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Stuff That Never Happened, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Stuff That Never Happened

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,489 ratings  ·  459 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Stuff That Never Happened
Girls Gone Reading
The Stuff that Never Happened took a hold of me early, and it never let me know. I was initially intrigued by the mystery of the plot: What could their big secret be? What could be so bad in your marriage that you would rather just ignore it? But the mystery aspect of the novel was just enough to get me into the plot. Then Annabelle and the fantastic story took over.

Usually, I have a little trouble with narrators. Sometimes I find them frustrating. Sometimes I wish they would turn right when the
Feb 04, 2011 rated it liked it
I cant believe how many people rated this book so favorably and said they enjoyed and even liked the characters. I found the main character incredbily self absorbed and selfish. The betrayal of her young husband was just disgusting to me and the fact that she continued to perseverate on the other man for so many years while she was still married, seemed so unfair to her husnad. However, I didnt really like Grant or Jeremiah that much either.
The book was an easy read and had some enjoyable parts
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jo Anne B
Jul 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
I ended up really loving this honest portrayl of a woman torn between two men. I almost put it down in the beginning because I didn't think the characters clicked but I am glad I stuck with it. Turns out the reason I almost stopped reading this was the reason for the story in the first place.

Anabelle, a fifty year old empty nester, takes a look back at her marriage of 28 years to Grant. With the kids gone she is not getting the attention and love she needs from her husband who is a boring, rigi
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this entire book. It was sweet and charming and the situations and characters and dialogue all felt real to me.

This book goes back and forth between the late 1970s and 2005. Annabelle impulsively marries a nice guy who she barely knows when she is 21 years old and then ends up having a very serious love affair with a married man. 28 years later, Annabelle is still married to her husband Grant and as the book unfolds we find out all the stuff that happened...and all the stuff th
Nancy Baker
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Okay – so there are all of the famous sayings, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”; “You always want what you can’t have”, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder”, etc., but what if 26 years ago you crossed the fence without thinking and your world almost blew apart? What if your husband was good enough and strong enough to forgive your past discretions if you promise to walk the straight and narrow? What happens when the one you’ve dreamed about for the past 26 years is ...more
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
I think this book was meant to be about love, family, and the consequences of our actions. I think that the author intended that you feel for the main character Annabelle and her inattentive husband who is so involved in his work that he even schedules sex. However, I saw this book as a story of selfishness and infidelity by Annabelle. I didn't feel sorry for her at all. She chose to suddenly marry Grant and follow him to New York City. And as soon as things got difficult, Annabelle had an affai ...more
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was full of amazing quotes that will resonate with me for awhile. My favorite parts: "I tell her the thing I truly believe - that sex and love and parenthood and complications can coexist, that you can be happy even when sex is something you steal away for once you've gotten the last of the dishes washed and the kid with the fever to finally go to sleep. But then my throat is suddenly clogged up with so much sadness and longing and regret that I think I will choke. It's because of toda ...more
Catherine McKenzie
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Really glad I picked this up. Maddie Dawson has a great way with character; the main character here is just as realistic as a slightly lost, a little wild twenty-year old as she is as a down to earth fifty year old. Recommend.
Apr 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written look into the choices we make in our past and the consequences that they carry long into the future. I really enjoyed this one.
Danielle McGrath
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
WARNING: I really tried to stay vague, but there are a few lines of my review that border on spoilers.

I went back and forth between 2 and 3 stars with this book. I have no issue with the author's writing, or even the style, although some people may struggle with the narration.

Upon reflection, the reasons I didn't care for this book is most likely because of my own personal, morals and convictions. Because no two people have the exact same convictions and/or moral code, I don't know if my review
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This was an excellent book, I feel like I could go on reading about Grant and Annabelle forever. I want to read about them growing old together. The story is told in alternating chapters between the beginning of Grant and Annabelle's marriage in the 1970's and currently, 2005 as they face the trials of begin married 20+ years.

What makes this book work so successfuly is the characterization. I really feel that Grant and Annabelle are fully fleshed characters. I understand why they do what they d
Karen Skinner
Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
"I know this feeling: It's a cousin of the mood that made me cry among the pork chops." This book may not resonate for you if you have never wept in the aisles of Whole Foods, but so far I am eagerly picking it up in my spare moments. There's a mother who dabbles in art, and there's a daughter who is going to be a mother. There's a lot more but those are my basic requirements.
This book freaked me out: it was the first package that was delivered to me in my new apartment. The apartment I just moved into with my boyfriend. With only my boyfriend. Now, I knew when I moved into this boyfriend-only apartment that it would lead to marriage. And I hate marriage. Just generally. Now, I know, I know... "don't hate it til you've tried it," and all that. If you say so.

So, The Stuff That Never Happened arrives, and here's this empty-nesting lady-mom deciding that she's going to
Feb 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Annabelle is about my age and going through some of the same things (not the affair...I promise!) Just that empty next thing. Here's a funny passage:

"...let me tell you: the one with the most free time loses in all marital discussions. It's a given. So, if you're the less busy person, take my advice and fake extreme busyness...."Well, that leaves me out, I'm afraid, because nobody on earth could be busier than Grant"... then you'll have to go to Plan B, which is just
Jessica's Book Review
I am really torn in my review of The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson.

First, I did enjoy the book. I felt like the author was writing the novel as if two girlfriends were just chatting and one was telling the other her relationship story. I liked the easy flow the main character presented her story and felt as if i was living her life with her. Their story was very interesting and so realistic. Most of the time I couldn't put the book down, other times was a bit slow but it's one hell
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Less appealing subject matter (difficult romantic relationships), but still a good style of writing from the author which I appreciate.
Pallabi Priyaadarshini
"You can't ever completely know or completely control another person. And when you make your whole life about trying to figure out what's he doing at any given point then you are going to rob yourself of some of the joy of simply being together. Because ultimately that's what all that matters."
Marriage is like Venn diagram, they are overlapping circles of commitment, parenthood, togetherness, procreation, lies, possessiveness, boredom, efforts and at times a third person.
The book talks about th
I had hopes for Maddie Dawson’s The Stuff That Never Happened considering the story is centered around the complicated world of relationships specifically marriage. And yet, about over halfway through the book, it hit me that I’m just basically going through the motions of reading the book with the intent of getting to the finish line. After that realization, it was time to figure out why I wasn’t as engaged in the book as I hoped I would be and it inevitably boils down to what has often happene ...more
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
Mar 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
When Annabelle and Grant got married, they really didn’t know each other all that well. They moved across the country and lived with another young couple and their two children. Something happens in those early years that will haunt their marriage for the rest of their lives. Rather than talk about it, Grant makes Annabelle agree to never mention it again, and in effect, pretend that it never happened. On the surface, that seems to work – they move to New Hampshire, raise two children and seem t ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I think I wanted to like this more than I did. The cover, for one, is beyond awesome. And the setting, New Hamsphire, is just different enough to evoke intrigue. With those two things going for it I didn't even read the jacket copy, I just swooped it up.

New Hampshire resident Annabelle McKay is having a midlife crisis. With her kids gone and her professor husband Grant working on a novel, she finds herself thinking about an affair she had in her twenties with a man named Jeremiah. The book alter
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
I totally loved this book. I was hooked pretty quickly and every time I got a moment to read, I would take it. I was intrigued by the marriage between Annabelle and Grant, but loved the flashbacks even more. It was nice to see how they got started, how he proposed, etc., to really build the story. It got me wondering a lot about what could be so bad that your marriage would suffer the way it obviously had.

I will say that I was pretty much uninterested in the "current" plot once Sophie took over
Jun 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel, about the "what-if" person who enters our minds unbidden but can't be forgotten--and almost every woman I know has a person like that. It reads so true.

"Maybe this is common. Perhaps the whole human race goes around with an ache like this. Maybe we're all dreaming of a person from the tantalizing past who sits there, uninvited, watching from the edge of our consciousness, somebody you find packing up and moving out of your head just as you're waking up in the morning, and wh
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This book had a real feel to it. Loved the messages about marriage and the mother and daughter heart-to-heart conversations. Sadly, I couldn't feel the connection between her and Grant. He seemed self-absorbed and selfish. He was always working. How could a college professor be that busy. (view spoiler)

Favorite passa
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad

Not a bad read about real possible family situations, mostly the relationships to be had after getting married. I didn't love the end.
A. R.
Oct 24, 2011 rated it liked it
If it hadn't been for the language in this book I would have given it four stars. I'm picky in how much profanity I will tolerate in a book and this was one had a little too much.

But putting that aside - I thought The Stuff That Never Happened was a very interesting look at marriage and extramarital affairs. An interesting look at what constitutes real solid love over the passionate, rip your clothes off kind of excitement. I found myself asking if the later was truly love or just an adrenaline
Jun 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it either. It was better than "meh" but less than "wow". I don't know what compelled me to read a book with such a difficult plot. It was like reading real life events and even though I relate, it wasn't a revelation. I know this probably doesn't make sense, but all I can say is if you want to read a story with characters who are as close to real people as I've ever met, this is a good book for that. If you've never experienced life to the deg
Debra Oehlberg
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
You might think that a book about an affair between two married people might not be that great, or that it on its highest level it is very shallow, but this book gives a great example of how communication in marriage is vital. It was interesting switching back between past and present constantly to tell the story. The ending was not at all predictable. I was surprised to read Maddie's bio and find out that she is happily married. It was almost as if she had lived the situation and could explain ...more
Wvqueen1 Cockerham
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Let me say it again: Loved this book. Read it.

The writing is great, the story--heart-breaking b/c it is so real and so true, but uplifting for the same reasons. It's honest. The characters are people you know--maybe you, yourself? Loved the generations of women, how the questions kept going to the next generation, and the answers too, though each generation has to find the answers for themselves. Read it, Now.
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Despite wanting to reach into the book and give one character or another a good shake and tell him or her to stop being such an idiot on more than one occasion, I really enjoyed this story. It's an easy read, but not overly fluffy, with a strong (and sometimes coarse) voice. The author read most of the first chapter at an event in my local library and had me hooked!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Book Covers 1 5 Nov 06, 2016 01:14PM  
52 weeks, 52 books: Week 2014.16: The Stuff That Never Happened 6 68 Apr 22, 2015 06:47PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Kissing Games Of The World
  • All Our Summers
  • The Longings of Women
  • Confessions of a Curious Bookseller
  • The Widow Waltz
  • I Was Told It Would Get Easier
  • The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay
  • What Comes After Crazy
  • Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper
  • E allora baciami
  • See Also Deception (Marjorie Trumaine Mystery, #2)
  • The Fixer (Mort Grant, #1)
  • Thursday's Bride
  • Mam, ik bel je zo terug
  • The Lies That Bind
  • Always the Last to Know
  • Girls of Summer
  • Summer Longing
See similar books…
I'm the author of eight novels about love, crazy families, secrets, parenthood, and--yes, they have reasonably happy endings. Kind of like life. My newest, A Happy Catastrophe, will be released on May 25, 2020. My other novels are: Matchmaking for Beginners, The Survivor's Guide to Family Happiness, The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World and A Piece of Nor ...more

Related Articles

  Mateo Askaripour is a Brooklyn-based writer whose debut novel, Black Buck—which Colson Whitehead calls a “mesmerizing novel, executing a high...
68 likes · 7 comments
“Listen. I don’t know how to do this right, but I really, really love you,” he said, and cleared his throat. He licked his lips and started talking fast. “I think you’re the sweetest, most beautiful girl in the world, and I’ve been living for our telephone conversations. It’s the only thing that gets me through these days, knowing that I get to talk to you every night. Keeping the secret about this job was the hardest thing for me to do, but I wanted to tell you in person. And ever since I knew I was going to come here and ask you this, I couldn’t eat or drink anything. And I know I’m different from you, and I’m probably never going to be cool, but I love yourpaintings, I love that you do art, I get it, and I won’t ever tell you that you should do paintings that match somebody’s couch. I will keep you in paint and canvases for the rest of your life, and if you really want to teach elementary school, then I think you’ll be the best teacher there ever was. And I love that you dress so cute, and I love the way you smell and the way you sing in the shower. I used to camp out on the floor outside the door when you were showering just so I could hear you, and the first time we made love was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I was so afraid you were going to say it couldn’t happen again. I just want to spend all my time looking at you and telling you things, and even though I’m just some nerd who thinks about strikes and contracts all the time, I want you to know that I’m financially solvent right now, I have some investments, and I’ll always do anything I can to make you happy. Your happiness is going to be the main thing for me. From now on. Forever. I mean that.” 5 likes
“She batted those
eyelashes at me so hard I thought I felt a breeze.”
More quotes…