POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

Tag Archives: Adultery

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Author: Paula Hawkins
Title: The Girl on the Train
Genre: Mystery and Suspense
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Riverhead (Random House)
Number of Pages: 336
Narrators: Rachel, Megan, and Anna
Quality Rating: 81.34

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

What’s It About?

Everyday, Rachel takes the train into town so that her roommate thinks she still has her job. Ever since her husband cheated her and left her for another women, she has dissolved into a pitiful drunk. Eventually, her new slovenly manner had cost Rachel her job. Now, she rides the train everyday and makes up stories about the people she sees. One of these people just happens to be Megan.

Megan has grown restless in her marriage. She is tired of simply being a housewife. In an attempt to experience something new and exciting, she starts an affair with another man that has recently come into her life. One day, Rachel happens by on the train and sees her kissing a man who isn’t her husband.

Soon after Rachel sees her betraying her husband, Megan disappears. Trying to help, Rachel tells the police about the affair Megan was having. Given that she’s a drunk, though, her testimony is deemed unreliable. Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife, had recently hired Rachel as a babysitter. As the worlds of Rachel, Anna, and Megan collide, all three women must face a truth that neither of them are prepared to face.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy a good psychological thriller built around dark secrets and hidden relationships, you’ll love this book. It has rightly been likened to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and it also bares a resemblance to Kimberly McCreight’s Where They Found Her. Themes include drunkeness, adultery, abuse, female independence, and broken memory. While the story does contain a good bit of reflection and introspection, there are a large number of twists and turns that build mystery and keep the reader guessing until the end.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Paula Hawkins: The Girl on the Train is Paula Hawkins’s debut novel.

Book Review: At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Author: Sara Gruen
Title: At the Water’s Edge
Genre: Literary; Historical
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (Random House)
Number of Pages: 368
Narrator: Maddie Hyde (Pennypacker)
Quality Rating: 76.94

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

What’s It About?

As the second World War wages in the world around her, Maddie spends much of her time hanging around with her husband Ellis and his best friend Hank–who have avoided service for medical reasons. When they get a little carried away and make a scene at a high society New Year’s Eve party, Ellis’s father cuts him off from the family fortune. To get back at his dad, he and Hank drag Maddie to Ireland in search of the fabled Lochness Monster. Years ago, Ellis’s father achieved infamy by faking a siting of the beast, and Ellis intends to show him up by capturing footage of the real thing.

Once thy arrive at their destination, a small hotel in a rural area near the Loch, Ellis and Hank begin searching for Nessie and visiting people who have seen the beast–often leaving Maddie by herself at the hotel. As Maddie spends more and more time with the hotel staff, she grows increasingly fond of them–to the disappointment of Ellis, who insists that they are beneath her class.

When he returns from his expeditions, Ellis is always drunk and proceeds to cruelly insult Maddie in a variety of ways. His mistreatment of Maddie leads to many confrontations with the hotel staff, including disagreements with a man who has become specially interested in Maddie. As the story unfolds, secrets come to light about Ellis’s true character, why he isn’t serving in the war, and what he really thinks of his wife. All of this latent tension leads to a dramatic to conclusion in which the monster is revealed–although perhaps not the one they were looking for.

Should You Read It?

If you like the sort of story that centers around a woman’s struggle to escape a bad marriage, this will be right up your alley. Also central to the story is the theme of social expectations and the class divisions they create. Although the novel is set in Europe at the height of World War 2, the war is a minor theme. The rich depictions of Ireland and its people are emphasized more than the time period. Also, be advised that this isn’t really about a search for the Lochness monster–that point is merely a vehicle for the development of the deep relationship conflict that fills the pages.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, NPR Interview

Book Reviews: Boston Globe, Kirkus Reviews, Chicago Tribune, That’s What She Read

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Sara Gruen: Ape House (2010), Water for Elephants (2006), Flying Changes (2005)

Book Review: Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Author: Claire Fuller
Title: Our Endless Numbered Days
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Tin House (Bloomsbury)
Number of Pages: 382
Narrator: Peggy
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: A, Excellent; of the first 48 reviews, the average reader rating was 96.67%.

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

What’s It About?

Peggy is an eight year old girl whose mother has gone off to work in Germany. After witnessing an argument he has on the telephone, she is abruptly taken from her home out into the wilderness to live alone with her temperamental father. After a torrential storm occurs shortly after their arrival at an abandoned cottage in the woods, Peggy’s father informs her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. The two of them are the only ones alive and, just over the hill across the forest, the world melts away into nothingness.

Peggy’s father teaches her to take care of herself in the wild, at times coming to the brink of starvation. To alleviate his anxiety and boredom, Peggy’s father comes up with endless projects–from creating a makeshift piano for Peggy to rebuilding the cottage they’ve come to call home.

Over time, Peggy’s father slowly loses his mind. To escape his violent and mercurial outbursts, Peggy begins to venture off into the woods by herself. Soon, she meets another man who has been living in the forest. As she develops a relationship with this mystery man, he becomes a refuge from her father. As she grows into her late teens, Peggy’s father reaches his wit’s end–leading to a dramatic showdown between Peggy, her father, and her new secret lover.

Should You Read It?

If you like a good psychological mystery, you’ll love this story. Told through the lens of a child, the author captures the world–not as it is–but as it is seen through damaged eyes. The narrative and tone leave the reader wondering what’s real and what’s imagined–all the way up to the dramatic and cathartic conclusion. If you enjoy a good survival story, you’ll probably like this book as well–as it is set in an isolated wilderness. While the writing style creates a strong sense of mystery and movement, the themes are darkly and deeply literary. So, whether your tastes tend more toward the high brow or the nitty gritty, this story will likely appeal to you if enjoy a good tale of mystery and madness.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: The Guardian, The Socratic Salon, The Chicago Tribune

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Claire Fuller: Our Endless Numbered Days is Claire Fuller’s debut novel.

Book Review: My Father’s Wives by Mike Greenberg

Author: Mike Greenberg
Title: My Father’s Wives
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Number of Pages: 240
Narrator: Jonathan Sweetwater
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: C, Average; of the first 98 reviews, the average reader rating was 77.35%.

My Father's Wives by Mike Greenberg

What’s It About?

Wall Street executive Jonathan Sweetwater has the perfect life. He is moderately wealthy and happily married with two young children who adore him. Traveling frequently for work, he doesn’t get a chance to spend much time at home. But, when he is home, the Sweetwaters are one big happy family–that is, until Jonathan comes home from work early one day.

Meaning to surprise his wife, Claire, he instead ends up being surprised by her. Hearing a noise coming from the guest room, he approaches the door and peers through the keyhole. What he sees rocks his world–a man he doesn’t recognize is getting dressed and sitting on the bed is unmistakably the nude back of his wife. Claire is having an affair.

Rather than confronting her, Jonathan leaves and returns later. The man is gone, and the bed is made–like nothing ever happened. After attempting to subtly weasel a confession out of Claire to no avail, Jonathan resorts to hiring a private investigator at the suggestion of his boss–just to be sure.

As Jonathan waits for news on his wife’s affair, he begins to explore the life of his deceased father–who had been married to six other women besides his own mother. Meeting with each of his father’s wives, Jonathan seeks to understand more about him. What kind of man was he? Why did he marry so often? In understanding the life of his father, Jonathan hopes to gain some perspective on his own–and perhaps even save his fragile marriage.

Should You Read It?

If you are a fan of Mike Greenberg as a sportscaster, you will get a taste of the play-by-play action in Jonathan’s one-on-one game with Michael Jordan. But, aside from the passion for basketball shared between Jonathan and his boss, the novel has nothing to do with sports. If you enjoy a good literary work on mystery in relationships and past secrets that shape characters in the present, this novel will be right up your alley. There is a good bit of dialogue, but most of the story consists of Jonathan’s introspection about himself, his father, and the family he is trying to keep together despite being his father’s son.

Links and References

Author Information: Wikipedia, Mike and Mike, Twitter

Book Reviews: New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, BookNAround

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Mike Greenberg: All You Could Ask For (2013), Why My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot (2007)

Book Review: Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik

Author: Lili Anolik
Title: Dark Rooms
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Number of Pages: 329
Narrator: Grace Baker
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B-, Very Good; of the first 32 reviews, the average reader rating was 81.25%.

Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik

What’s It About?

Grace Baker is an ordinary, middle-class teenage girl living in Hartford, Connecticut. Just as she is about to graduate high school and move on to a prestigious liberal arts college, her younger sister Nica is murdered. When the murder goes unsolved, Grace decides to put off college and stay in Hartford to seek out her sister’s killer.

As she works through her list of potential suspects, she is forced to deal with the fall out from Nica’s death. Her father has become listless and spends most of his days sulking. Her mother has left her father and moved away to be by herself. On top of her parents’ issues, Grace realizes that she is pregnant–and she honestly doesn’t remember having slept with anyone recently.

Working with her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Grace begins to investigate her sister’s circle of close friends. The more leads Grace gets on her sister’s murder, the more she realizes that her family isn’t exactly what it seems. Her sister, it turns out, had secrets that Grace knew nothing about. And the revelation of these secrets ultimately lead Grace to discovering the mystery behind Nica’s death.

Should You Read It?

This book has been rightly compared to the writings of Megan Abbott and Gillian Flynn, as well as to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. The story–with its cast of sex-crazed, counter-cultural characters–can be described as a psychological soap opera. As the plot develops, the mystery builds around tangled relationships and sexual secrets. While it is a murder mystery, the intrigue¬†has less to do with the murder than it does with the web of secrets leading up to it. If you’re into that sort of thing, I would definitely give this book a read.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Vanity Fair Interview

Book Reviews: LA Review, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, BookPage

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Lili Anolik: Dark Rooms is Lili Anolik’s debut novel. However, she is an accomplished popular journalist and currently works for Vanity Fair.