The Threadbare Heart by Jennie Nash
Lily and Tom have always had nearly the perfect marriage, which stands as the perfect foil to the multiple marriages of Lily’s mother Eleanor. Lily and Tom are committed to each other, Eleanor was happy to move onto the next man as soon as one is out of her life; Lily and Tom are perfectly content with their professors’ salaries, Eleanor has been known to marry for mutual financial and social benefit; Lily and Tom believe in love and choosing love, Eleanor believes love is basically a joke.
However, as Lily and Tom move into middle age, Lily starts to wonder if their marriage is as strong as everyone has always thought. It starts with Tom becoming angry with Lily for indulging in foods she knows are triggers to her debilitating migraines and admitting just how frustrated he is with her for not doing what she can to better control them. Next thing Eleanor knows, Tom is longing after an avocado farm in California, a purchase that would move them out of the Northeast and to California near Eleanor and their children. Once they arrive in California, Eleanor becomes reacquainted with a man who was once one of the more handsome boys in her high school class and she becomes worried about all the time Tom is spending with a young woman who works for the avocado grower’s association. Now Eleanor must sort out for herself what is and is not real in her life.
So I really liked this book, but OH MY GOSH! Stay away from plot summaries! The description on the back of the book is such a spoiler (I didn’t give anything too much away here)! You can obviously still enjoy the book if you know what is going to happen, but the events that are mentioned on the back of the book don’t occur until 2/3 of the way through the book. I assumed that said event would occur near the beginning and the majority of the book would be dealing with the aftermath, but that wasn’t the case at all.
Despite the fact that the back of the book had a major case of spoiler-itis, I thought this was a great work of women’s fiction. Although Lily was clearly the main character, Nash also takes us inside the heads of Eleanor and Lily’s son Ryan who is struggling with his young marriage. I loved how all three generations were struggling with questions of love and intimacy and how all had something to teach the others, even if indirectly. The questions raised by “The Threadbare Heart” in regards to whether or not love is a choice and the relationship between love and comfort or complacency were fascinating and I think this was a very well thought-out story.
A very thoughtful work of women’s fiction exploring real, everyday marriages and the themes of love and loss. Highly recommended.
In case you missed it, I’m giving away a copy of this book this week.