Gone: A Novel by Cathi Hanauer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Goodreads: From the editor of the New York Times bestselling essay anthology The Bitch in the House and the novel Sweet Ruincomes a compelling domestic drama about a woman who must hold her family together after her husband disappears.It is every woman’s nightmare—or fondest dream. Her husband leaves to drive the babysitter home and doesn’t return. Thus begins Gone, Cathi Hanauer’s sexy, tension-filled new novel. For the past fourteen years, Eve Adams has worked part-time while raising her two children and emotionally supporting her sculptor husband, Eric, through his early fame and success. Now, at forty-two, she suddenly finds herself with a growing career of her own—even as Eric’s career sinks deeper into the slump it slipped into a few years ago. After a dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate Eve’s success, Eric drives the babysitter home and, simply, doesn’t come back. Eve must now shift the family in possibly irreparable ways, forcing her to realize that competence in one area of life doesn’t always keep things from unraveling in another. Gone is a novel about change and about redefining, in middle age, everything from one’s marriage to one’s career to one’s role as a best friend, parent, and spouse. It is a novel about passion and forgiveness and knowing when to let something go and when to fight to hold onto it; about learning to say goodbye—but, if you’re lucky, not forever.
My thoughts: Gone is the story of the evolution of marriage. The introduction to Eve and Eric begins with Eve, lamenting that Eric ran off with the babysitter. This could easily be a simple, textbook case of a midlife crisis and a man suffering marriage malaise. Instead, the author paints a much more complex and complete picture.
The story of Eve and Eric is told by both points of view. It is present tense as they muddle through the sudden and unplanned separation. Given, Eric's decision to drive away is sudden and impulsive. Again, this could be easily attributed to an artist's flighty temperament. But it is not. Eric ends up across the country, staying with his mother, trying to figure out where he is in life. What happened to make him a stranger and useless at home. Why he left Eve and the children like that. Slowly, Eric puts the pieces of his life together and realizes what he needs and some of how to attain it.
Eve is at home working as a dietitian and some of her cases are teaching her valuable and painful lessons about life and interconnectedness. She is learning how she shuts people out, how she avoids difficult situations, and how she misses what she had and took it for granted. A warning - the beginning is slow as Eve muddles through her cases.
The story is not action packed but deeply moving and I savored it. It is best appreciated by a middle aged person in a middle aged marriage. A parent of a teen or pre-adolescent will empathize well. Painfully well. It is moving and heart-wrenching. I wish I had this book years ago.
I think the best part of the book is realizing that marriages change throughout the years and both partners are responsible for adapting. You can never go back to have the same marriage. Marriage is about compromising for what you want most.