A chance encounter with a stranger on an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin. Suddenly Elyse is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the community. She finds herself cutting through all the instincts that say "no" and instead lets "yes" happen. As Elyse embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage, and freedom.
Though the underlying plot of a woman assessing her unhappy marriage is a common one, I found this treatment of it very unusual and original. I was delighted that the book focussed on a woman making decisions about her marriage rather than finding herself left behind for a younger woman. I mean, I'm married and so obviously frown upon the idea of adultery, but the thought of living in a marriage like Elyse's where your partner doesn't really see you or hear anything you say, and is content to be content (even knowing that you are not) is so crushing that I could understand why Elyse grasped at a relationship where she could at least feel a passionate connection to another person. I was also surprised that in a book about so many women, I couldn't really find a character that I thought I would like in real life, and yet still I enjoyed the book so much.
One thing I really enjoyed was Wright's use of old movies in the novel. Most of my friends also love watching old black and white movies for the romance of them, whereas most of our husbands love watching new action movies with lots of special effects. I found those scenes involving the movies very true to life.
This is one of those books I will recommend to my friends even though it is rather bleak in its look at relationships because I think it expresses some of the fear that so many of us have about where our marriages may end up. I didn't think the book itself was bleak, just the view of relationships as not one of the characters was truly happy. Of course, maybe none of us is ever really truly happy- maybe we just read too many books where it all ends happily ever after. I also thought the question of religion quite sensitively and accurately handled, a nice change from so many books I've read in the last couple of years.