Bess Gray is the thirty-five year old folklorist and amateur martial artist living in Washington, DC. Just as she's about to give up all hope of marriage, she meets Rory, a charming Irish musician, and they fall in love. But Rory is a man with a secret, which he confesses to Bess when he asks for her hand: He's been married eight times before. Shocked, Bess embarks on a quest she feels she must undertake before she can give him an answer. With her bickering grandparents (married sixty-five years), her gay neighbor (himself a mystery), a shar-pei named Stella, and a mannequin named Peace, Bess sets out on a cross-country journey-unbeknownst to Rory- to seek out and question the wives who came before. What she discovers about her own past is far more than she bargained for.
So, I was kind of leery. I mean, I was secretly worried this would be some kind of Jodi-Picoult-make-me-want-to-kill-myself-with-sadness type of story but no. It wasn't that at all. It was a really honest story about being a 35 year old woman, with people making assumptions as to why she isn't married with kids, and then her struggle with it. She envies the long marriage of her grandparents, even though they fight constantly, because she feels like they must obviously still love each other. And in the middle of her questioning her life as it is, she meets Rory who she falls for quickly. He's a bit of a mystery and he obviously has an extensive history with women.
What makes this book interesting is that the chapters alternate between Bess's story and Rory recounting each wife and the reason why he got married/divorced. And it's pretty evident that he literally, had good reasons and intentions behind every marriage and that the divorces didn't happen for conventional reasons. They are all very logical explanations and it makes you question the importance of previous marriages/divorces with potential mates.
I really loved Rory's character. If he were a real person and I was a single lady he'd be the type that I would automatically be attracted to and he seems like a person you'd like. Bess was a little hard to like for me. Not just her, but women like her who have to question and over analyze every thing. Sometimes things shouldn't be analyzed, I think, because they may not even be related but they only look like it.
The beautiful thing about this story is that it really makes you think about marriage as a whole and why they don't work. I have another post for another day, but I think that people have too high of expectations for marriages. I believe people expect their spouse to be their world, their rock, the one to make them happy, etc and if any one of these doesn't quite click- they throw the towel in and move on. And no person can be THAT responsible for someone else. Matt is just a small snippet in my world. My world will still revolve, albeit differently, if he weren't here for whatever reason. It took me a few years to realize he can't make me happy, I have to be happy first and then he just enhances it. People rely too much on other people to bring importance and meaning to their lives and I don't know if that is necessarily healthy.
So. I can't tell you what happens in the end because it would ruin the journey for you through the book, but I do encourage you to read it. Especially if you are dating because I think it would encourage you to look at divorce in a (potential) partner a bit differently. And for people who are married (happy or not) it's interesting because I know I looked at things in my own marriage a little differently.. maybe you will too.
Other bloggers are reviewing this book so head over to HERE to get some links to compare reviews. And Amy Stolls will be talking about her book with Book Club Girl on Tuesday, June 7 and you can listen to that HERE.