I seem to have read a lot of books lately based around women in their mid to late thirties (read almost forty!), married, with kids and apparently dissatisfied with their lives.
I therefore initially began reading the debut novel by Kim Wright titled Love in Mid Air thinking it may just be another chronicle of a clichÃ©d view of the married almost 40 year old woman. But I was mistaken.
Love in Mid Air is a detailed account of one woman\’s attempt to find happiness in her life. Feeling trapped in a seemingly loveless marriage, trapped in the cycle of suburbia â€“ the carpooling, bake sales and church meetings; she tries to work out just what she needs to do to change things. But it is not clichÃ©d in any way.
This is not your typical happy-ever-after romantic novel. This is not simply the story of an unhappy woman who meets the stranger who sweeps her off her feet to a blissful life. Yes, she does meet the stranger. Yes, he does in fact sweep her off her feet. But this story is more realistic than romantic.
Love in Mid Air is the story of Elyse Beardon â€“ married to an unassuming dentist named Phil and with a 6 year old daughter she lives in a nice neighbourhood, has nice friends and is able to make a small amount of money selling pottery. She is, however, unhappy. Phil doesn\’t talk to her, her friends are tired of her whining about her marriage and she is not sure she has the courage to do anything about it.
Then, on her way home from a work trip Elyse unexpectedly meets Gerry â€“ a married man from Boston â€“ and against her better judgment they embark on a dangerous and potentially life changing affair. She risks everything â€“ her marriage, her only child and the (till now anyway) unwavering support of her friends.
The novel follows the progression of Elyse and Gerry\’s affair â€“ they meet once a month and really it\’s all about sex â€“ and her parallel efforts to try and salvage a marriage. The story is told from Elyse\’s point of view and at some points in the book she can seem a bit self-obsessed, talking to her friends endlessly about her husband and their marriage, and at times even comes across as a bit of a whinger. You do get the sense on occasion that her friends are sick of hearing about it â€“ but then you realise that they each have their own issues and hearing Elyse being so open means they feel exposed too. But overall she remains a sympathetic character and, despite the affair, she really does try to work things out with her husband. The affair is just one symptom of her bad marriage, not the catalyst that will lead to it\’s inevitable breakdown.
This portrayal of an affair does not make it sound glamorous or as though it would be the answer to your prayers if you were not happy. It is a stark, confronting and provocative look at marriage and the courage it takes one woman to look critically at hers and then take steps to change it. It is also real â€“ I\’m sure we could all relate to the relationships between the female characters as well as the honest portrayals of marriage and the tedium of daily life.
Despite my wary start I truly enjoyed Love in Mid Air. I read the book in its entirety in about two days (despite being busy with my own version of the suburban cycle) because I just could not put it down once it drew me in. I felt I had to read it faster and faster as I sensed Elyse hurtling toward some as yet uncertain end. The end when it came was shocking, and I have to admit part of me felt as though Elyse had gotten away relatively unscathed, while everyone else had an altogether altered view of her marriage. You\’ll understand when you read it.
All in all, Love in Mid Air was a thoroughly compelling, sharp and slightly shocking read and I\’d recommend it to all those women out there who think there might be more to life â€“ but just be careful what you wish for!
Available now:Â Allen & Unwin RRP$29.99