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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Among Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont

There has been a fair amount of hype around this book and in the end when I am reflecting on it, I am not sure that it was all that deserved.  The central theme of this book is what exactly ends a marriage.  That can be a tough question to answer concisely because it is usually a whole series of things that add up to more negatives than positives, and then there is a tipping point, beyond which it is hard to salvage things.  In this book the tipping point is that the children find out in the most explicit of ways about their father's infidelity.

Jack Shanley is an self-centered middle-aged artist and father-of-two who has been sleeping with one of his models.  His wife Deborah has known about the affair for months, and they have been working to see if their marriage can be salvaged.  At the opening of the book Jack's mistress sends a package to Deborah that contains a letter delineating the intimate affairs of Jack's life that she is privy to, and then there are copies of the emails that she and Jack have exchanged.  These are very sexually explicit and meant to wound Deborah.  What happens is that Jack's daughter opens the package and reads them, then shares them with her brother, who brings them to his parents attention.  So the children are inserted into the equation and they have more information than is ideal.  It derails the reconciliation process and has a permanent effect on all the relationships within the family.  A cautionary tale for those who step outside the boundaries of marriage about just what they are risking.

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