By Melissa Amster
What would you do if your spouse confessed to you that they had cheated on you? What if they wrote a fictional (with some hidden truths) book on the topic of marital infidelity? What if your financial stability rested partially on the publication of this book? This is the situation greeting Sarah Price at the beginning of "Husband and Wife," which fuels her to re-examine herself as a wife and mother, as well as an individual.
Leah Stewart introduces us to Sarah and Nathan on the day of their friends' wedding. Before they even get out of the house, Nathan tells Sarah he cheated on her before bursting into tears. His novel, "Infidelity," could very well be housing some truths from the situation and not publishing it would cost them financially, even though publishing it would bring more emotional costs into play. Sarah tries to remain stoic while processing this new piece of information and how it has changed their marriage from innocent and comfortable to one with many rocky roads. It forces her to see herself differently in her roles as wife and mother in comparison to the girl she used to be before she met Nathan. It also takes her on a journey to reclaim those lost pieces of herself.
"Husband and Wife" was certainly a compelling novel and one that I found difficult to put down once I got into the thick of it. The dialogue was realistic and held nothing back. The interactions between Sarah and her husband, children, friends and coworkers had distinct dimensions and showed each role she had to play in her life, as well as in theirs. Through Sarah, Ms. Stewart brings out a wide array of emotions for her readers to follow along with, understand and feel, whether or not they can relate to her and the ongoing situation presented throughout the novel. The prose is written beautifully. It borders on the graceful and poetic to the harsh and uninhibited.
My only criticism (aside from some spelling errors that should have been caught by an editor before going to print) was the immense amount of introspection that would put Sarah into an abyss of deep thought. I tended to get lost in her thoughts, as it seemed like they went all over the place before getting back to where they had begun to take shape. It reminded me of books such as "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," in that she'd have one thought and it would trail to another, which would lead to a flashback that would make the reader forget whether they were following her in the present or the past. It just felt disorganized to me and I'd have to read several pages or paragraphs over again to figure out where Sarah was going with her thoughts.
Overall, the story was well written and interesting. Even if you never have been in Sarah's shoes (not that you'd necessarily want to be), I think you could definitely find something to take away from this thought provoking novel.