The Good Woman by Jane Porter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
How can I write a review on this book? I'll start by stating that it halted my reading addiction. I didn't want to jump into another book. I wanted to sit, savor and think about it. It also gave me a few epiphanies. Porter is brilliantly insightful.
We are introduced to the Brennen sisters. Meg is the oldest and highly pious and responsible. She expects herself to be perfect and sets the bar high. She is capable of doing it all and she does. But she is so tired of it. She's also feeling the effects of gravity and age. Working full-time for a pair of brothers as a marketing director of wine, she is also a wife to Jack, a brilliant architect who specializes in vintage properties, and mother to three children; each of them extremely busy and working on their high goals and accomplishments.
Meg is questioning her existence and purpose. She's also vividly aware that she has unmet needs. Jack hasn't touched her for months. Additionally, although he is a great provider, she is not only working but also arranging all the transportation, children's activities, shopping, cooking, etc. She ends up having the opportunity to go to the best wine show in London and goes with her boss, Chad Hallahan, where he admits his attraction to her. This opens the window of possibility. Someone finds her sexy and attractive. Someone finds her interesting and wants to be with her. Someone that she respects and admires admits that he can't stop thinking about her and has been thinking about her for years.
Meg begins the spiral for having an affair. This is brilliantly written. When she actually crosses that threshold, she can't believe it happened. She can say it just "happened" yet the reader can see the purposeful yet seemingly small decisions Meg made to be involved with Chad. Meg's strong Catholic upbringing can not be understated. She has horrific guilt. She tries to justify her actions by pulling at the faults of Jack but she still can't quite do it justice. And Chad loves her. Chad is a good man who deserves a good woman. Meg is terribly conflicted.
What stands out to me is how a good woman can feel that she has unmet needs and make choices to get those needs met without involving her husband. She's unhappy and talks herself into believing that if she could find happiness, she would be a better mother and wife. Meg's decisions and ultimate betrayal of her marriage vows have absolutely nothing to do with Jack or her children. Meg is dissatisfied and, rather than pin her husband into a corner and tell him what she needs, she seeks it elsewhere. She loves the way her body comes alive under Chad's touch but hates the self loathing she feels after spending an afternoon with him. I loved that Porter included the details of Meg's guilt along with her unmet needs.
What Meg soon discovers is that she can choose her actions but she can not choose the consequences. When she began her affair with Chad, it didn't cross her mind what Jack might do if he found out. She knows he'd be hurt but that's the extent of it. She doesn't consider what the fallout might do to her children nor that her sister might take it as a personal affront since her own husband had been caught in an affair a couple of years earlier. She doesn't consider that she might hurt Chad.
Additionally, the book follows Meg through her self flagellation, Jack's rage and devastation, her children's actions, right through where Meg finally understands that her debilitating guilt needs to be accompanied by action. This book could also be entitled The Anatomy of An Affair. None of the characters are all good or bad. I loved Meg and identified with her up to so many points, although I have not had an affair. I understand her feelings and unmet needs and understood her justification. My heart hurt as she suffered the consequences.
I am looking forward to this trilogy. Jane Porter is brilliantly insightful of the middle age woman and her struggles. She is brilliantly insightful of the anatomy of marriages and motherhood.
The book contains mature content. Best read by a middle aged woman.
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*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.