Title: The First Husband
Author: Laura Dave
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“Annie Adams is days away from her thirty-second birthday and thinks she has finally found some happiness. She visits the world’s most interesting places for her syndicated travel column and she’s happily cohabiting with her movie director boyfriend Nick in Los Angeles. But when Nick comes home from a meeting with his therapist (aka “futures counselor”) and announces that he’s taking a break from their relationship so he can pursue a woman from his past, the place Annie had come to call home is shattered. Reeling, Annie stumbles into her neighborhood bar and finds Griffin-a grounded, charming chef who seems to be everything Annie didn’t know she was looking for. Within three months, Griffin is Annie’s husband and Annie finds herself trying to restart her life in rural Massachusetts.”
Thoughts: On the surface, The First Husband is a light-hearted look at one woman’s journey to discover love and life and happiness. It is often hilarious, quite poignant and extremely visceral. However, the true beauty of this fresh and fun novel is the depths underneath, where Ms. Dave explores the importance of finding oneself above everything else. While in the guise of supposedly trite “chick lit”, The First Husband has sufficient gravitas to rend the heartstrings while simultaneously requiring the reader to ponder the lessons Annie is learning. Quick and compelling, The First Husband is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
The First Husband has it all – comedy, quirky characters, drama, unexpected twists, and a reminder of the important things in life. As various characters mention at intervals throughout the novel, life is messy, and Ms. Dave does not hide from this fact but embraces it in such a way that Annie, Griffin, Nick and the entire cast of characters morph into personal friends and acquaintances. Even better, none of the characters are perfect. The reader will disagree with various decisions at one point in time or another and will recognize when each character is making a poor life choice. However, this is what gives the novel its heart – because each reader can draw on his or her own life experiences to recognize the poor decisions and empathize.
Ms. Dave has a way of creating extremely realistic characters. Better yet, she does not shy away from the tough lessons. What makes one relationship successful over another? How does one truly know whether a relationship is meant to last or not? How does a couple manage different expectations, wants, and needs in a relationship made up of two very different people? How does one move on from the familiar? What chances are worth taking in life? For those readers who want to get more out of a novel than just a good story, Ms. Dave does not disappoint. However, for those that still want a good story, The First Husband exceeds all expectations.
While light and airy enough to read on the beach, The First Husband is grounded enough to be realistic and familiar to anyone and everyone. The reader not only gets that necessary sense of satisfaction felt upon finishing a great novel, the reader will also feel a sense of contentment and happiness that comes with knowing others struggle with the same questions and concerns about relationships, even if those characters happen to be fictional. I predict The First Husband is going to be a very popular beach read this summer, deservedly so.
Thank you to the author for my advanced reading copy!