Friday, April 29, 2011

Still Life With Husband Review and Q-n-A

Still Life with Husband (Vintage Contemporaries)

Still Life With Husband
Lauren Fox
258 pgs.

Amazon Blurb -

Yes, it's an affair novel, but file this adroit but placid debut under chick lit for early marrieds—the ones who are not sure they want to be on the baby-house-'burbs track. At 30, Emily Ross is a Milwaukee freelance writer with a part-time job as assistant editor at a medical journal called Male Reproduction and a marriage to "steady, staid" Kevin, a technical writer she met in college. Kevin, "innocent and intolerable," wants a baby and a house. Emily is ambivalent and bored. A few pages in, Emily meets David Keller, a dark, good-looking writer/editor at the local alternative newspaper, and starts an affair. Things, as expected, do not go well, but Fox's voice is steady, moving easily between comedy and drama. Her emotionally literate delineation of character and relationship give the book texture, with Emily's relationship with her best friend, Meg, emerging as the book's most resonant. Fox draws just the right tension out of Emily's mix of honesty and self-delusion, reflection and romance, with an undercurrent of a sort of left-handed hope. For anyone who's lived through a relationship drama, though, Emily will have a decidedly entitled, gee-whiz quality that's hard to take. 

Emily's husband Kevin has been pestering her about starting a family, buying a home in the burbs, the whole kit-n-kaboodle.  They've been married for nine years and he feels like it's time.  Kevin is a steady calm sorta guy, I would describe both of them as hipish sorta nerds.  Emily does NOT want any part of babies or burbs right now.  Who knows when.

Meg is Emily's bff, they meet every week at Whites Cafe for coffee and muffins.  Meg is described as an absolute beauty in spite of the fact that she is on the fluffy side, and men gravitate towards her like flowers to the sun.  She and her hubby Steve are expecting their first child and Meg is over the moon.  She wishes that Emily would share their childhood dream of being preggers together.

While having coffee Meg points out a cutie eying Emily for a while now.  She doesn't believe it till she goes to get more coffee and he comes up behind her and tells her he's seen her in the cafe before.  And so starts a spiral of lies and cheating that Emily doesn't seem able to stop.

The author is able to keep a very heavy subject light with her writing style.  Truly this isn't my type of book.  Stories of betrayal cut too deep.  How Emily handles this whole thing leaves a lot to be desired, and Kevin sure didn't deserve any of it.  The small side story of Meg and Steve really could've been brought to the forefront more to make it more interesting.  I really didn't get to form a bond with any of them.  Not a bad book, just not my cup of tea.

3 cannolis



1.  Team Kevin or Team David?
 Well I didn’t look at it that way.  Kevin was her husband, and what she did was dead wrong.  It just so happens that David was a real upstanding man who couldn’t deal with this at all and if she wouldn’t have been married would have made a great boyfriend.

2.  What scene do you feel was the fatal, no turning back scene for Emily?
To be honest, I think from the moment she saw him with Meg, Emily had decided that she would cross the line with this man.

3.  If Emily asked for your advice about her marriage what would you tell her?
 That she needs to take a step back and think over if hurting her husband and fatally wounding her marriage is worth this.

4.  Do you think Emily would have made a different decision if she would have confided in Meg or Heather?
 Yes I do, and with Meg.  Meg would have talked her down off of this.   I think her relationship with her sister was no way near that deep.  The rivalry and bickering was still so heavy for their ages.

5.  Will Kevin and Emily reconcile once the baby is born?
I don’t know this is a very hard thing to recover from, a lot harder for men than for women imho.

6.  Will David re-enter their lives?
No, I think seeing Kevin that day was too much for that man to deal with.

7.  Do you think Barbara, Emily's mother, gave her good advice when she told her that sometimes our lives don't turn out the way we envision but we need to make the best of what we have?
No, I think her mother was stuck in her own life rut. She didn’t seem very insightful.

8.  Who is your favorite character?
To be honest, I didn’t feel any special attachment to any of the characters.  I really didn’t like Emily, Meg could’ve been a good character, but the relationship really was just superficially touched on.

9.  Did you like this book?  Why or why not?
Fox is a good writer, she was able to take a dreadful subject and make it lighter on the heart.  I don’t like stories of betrayal; I hate Camelot and King Arthur for this reason.  It was an ok book, with some very sad subjects thrown in but not delved into very deeply.  Meg’s pain of loss with her pregnancies was glossed over, and the hurt Kevin felt was as well.  I guess that’s how she kept it light.


  1. Paula - Thanks for sticking with it and reading it even though it wasn't your cup of tea. I'm looking forward to the "E" selection. Belle

  2. Great answers Paula.

    I think the most dramaful part of the book was when Kevin saw David and Emily, that was a jaw dropping omg moment, loved it.

    My review.

  3. I agree Marce, you could actually feel David's horror (for lack of a better word) at seeing Kevin. Very dramatic.

    No problem Belle, it wasn't bad, just not the best for me :)


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