Accidents of Marriage

September 30, 2014 Contemporary, Fiction, Review, Women's Fiction 9 ★★★

Accidents of MarriageTitle: Accidents of Marriage
Author: Randy Susan Meyers
Source: TLC Book Tours
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: This was a gripping book, but more tense than emotionally moving, and I didn’t feel as though the main character had enough agency.

“Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids – which works to keep a fragile peace – until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life.” (Source)

I really liked the idea of this book, but in practice I found it much less emotionally moving than similar books I’ve read recently (Five Days Left, for example). Like Five Days LeftAccidents of Marriage shows some of the frustrations associated with disabilities caused by disease or injury. I think that makes both of these books very worthwhile reminders to be patient with others. Also, although these kind of events might feel emotionally manipulative to some, I’m a sucker for books where people try to find happiness despite such challenges. However, in Accidents of Marriage, I didn’t feel we got to see Maddy changing in response to her injury. It’s clear that to go on would have required great strength of character given the challenges Maddy faces. From what we get to see, though, it seems as if most of the changes in her life are precipitated by the accident. There’s very little of Maddy choosing to make changes on her own.

Another thing that bothered me was Ben’s character. I was excited that we also got his perspective and hoped it would add some complexity to the story, but even from Ben’s perspective, he has no redeeming qualities. This meant that I spent a lot of the book stressing that he might become physically violent and that Maddy might forgive him for everything. I would rather have felt emotionally invested in their relationship. It would have been nice to see why it was so hard for Maddy to realize that Ben’s behavior was unacceptable and to empathize with why she feel in love with him in the first place. Despite these shortcomings, this was a very enjoyable read. The plot was my kind of plot, the writing was beautiful, and some of the challenges Maddy and her children faced were very moving. I just would have liked to see more character growth from Maddy and less pure evil from Ben.

9 Responses to “Accidents of Marriage”

  1. Jancee

    It sometimes frustrates me when I see women in situations where they should know better, but then they do nothing to change it. In my review of A Discovery of Witches, I talked a little bit about how the relationship between Diana and Matthew felt problematic because even though she is strong and prides herself on being independent, she quickly gives in to his control and anger.

    Same here – seems like Maddy, as a social worker and mom, would know the ramifications of getting involved with someone like Ben. I know there are extenuating circumstances, and nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems, but I feel frustrated when I think books are perpetuating this type of relationship.

    • DoingDewey

      I agree that it seems as though, as a social worker, Maddy should recognize how bad her situation is. I really would have liked to see her come to that realization on her own. However, I don’t think this book is portraying her relationship as ok. At least, I was terrified for Maddy and her kids and constantly rooting for to get out of the relationship, and I think the book guides the reader in that direction. It seems like in A Discovery of Witches and definitely in some other books I’ve read, it seems more like the reader is meant to accept relationships like this as alright, which I agree is really frustrating. Definitely not ok!

  2. Leila @ LeilaReads

    This kinda reminds me of Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen, but not as good. The story sounds promising, but I agree that it seems like more character development and balance so the reader would be emotionally invested would make the story more interesting. I mean, what’s the point if we don’t care about the characters. As usual, really thoughtful review 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      I wouldn’t quite say I didn’t care about the main character, since I was very worried about her situation, but you’re still right. Her husband was very one-dimensional with no redeeming features that we saw, so it was much harder to feel for her when she wanted to stay with him despite the abuse. I just didn’t get it! I’ll have to check out Black and Blue, since I think a better book on this topic would definitely be worthwhile reading.

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