Sunday, September 8, 2013

*GUEST REVIEW* "Good Wife Gone Bad" by N. E. Lane Review

Everyone, please welcome Donna to I'll Be Reading! She is one of my newest guest reviewers! 

Thank you Donna ! I love your review, and cannot wait for more books to be reviewed by you :)



""Get a life, Amanda..".. I heard that phrase many times throughout my marriage to Jim. "Get a life" was his way of chastising me for being too dependent on him.... too needy. The irony of it was that I depended on him for very little. I learned early on that when I needed him most, he was unavailable. Each time he hurled those words at me, my response was always the same: "Someday I will. And you won't be in it." He didn't believe me. When I fell in love with Jim and accepted his marriage proposal, I told him my dream was to have an uncomplicated life, filled with the same passion and devotion that surrounded me throughout my childhood. I wanted my children to feel loved and protected so that one day they would look back and have fond memories of their own childhood. Jim assured me that he wanted that also. He promised me a life of love and affection, friendship and laughter. He lied. "Good Wife Gone Bad" addresses serious social and emotional issues being dealt with in today's society: infidelity, emotional and verbal abuse, abortion, desertion and abandonment, rage issues, anxiety and panic disorders, post-partum depression, and divorce."

Donna's Thoughts

What begins seemingly as a "coming of age" story, this novel evolves into the nightmare of an increasingly difficult and untenable marriage. Raised in a lovingly overprotective family, and marrying quite young, Amanda is naive and ill-equipped to deal with Jim, a chameleon of a man whose  true colors don't show until after she has fallen in love with him and happily agreed to marry him.

Wanting only a close, happy family life such as she experienced while growing up in a loving home surrounded by the parents, aunts, uncles and cousins of her extended Italian family, Amanda soon learns that charming Jim is either unwilling or incapable of providing the passion, trust and respect that are the cornerstones of such a life. Unwilling to give up on her dream, she closes her eyes to many of the shortcomings of her new husband and puts up with his erratic behavior, long absences and emotional abuse by refusing to deal with it. Of course he uses this behavior to his advantage, ridiculing her concerns and implying always that the problems she dares to express are hers, not his. When she dares to confront him early on the marriage (and throughout it) he uses his favorite, dismissive stock phrase:

"Get a life, Amanda!" 

At times painful to read, this story presents more as an autobiography of an emotionally abused young woman who finally finds the strength and determination to break free from her manipulative, unfaithful and intimidating husband. By using the first person narrative style entirely throughout, we only know what transpires through Amanda's viewpoint  as she recounts  life from before her birth to the present. We read the beginning of her rebellious thoughts as she grows stronger : 

" I refused to be his emotionally wounded victim"

and then later as she begins to see quite clearly what is happening to her marriage and her denial of it:

"This was a pivotal moment for me. It was painfully obvious that I had been deluding myself for such a long time. What we had wasn't a marriage; we had a material life together but there was no bond between us. "

Having grown up in the same era and locale, with a large and loving Italian family of my own, I certainly identified with Amanda in the early chapters of the book. Perhaps I would not have made the same choices that she did, but I can understand how her upbringing, the Vietnam era and her  adolescent dreams contributed to these choices. As her dream of an "uncomplicated life" turns to ashes, and her marriage goes on, the reader might wonder that it took so many years of heartache to move her to definitive action. Denial plays a huge part in this, as does protecting her daughters and, let's face it, dreams take a long time to die!!

Amanda's self worth and strength of character do manage to grow and blossom as time passes and the courage to do what's best for herself finally wins out.

This is an interesting, if rambling at times, narrative which highlights many of the emotional issues involved in an ill-fated marriage. I am sure many readers will identify at least in part with Amanda's plight, her growth and her resolution to all those issues she faced.




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