PLAYING AWAY by Adele Parks


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An affecting first novel successfully combines a cheeky first-person narrative with a serious look at the consequences of adultery.

Connie is as happy as she should be: A year into her marriage with Luke, the two have a charming London house, promising careers, and each other as best friends. As Connie puts it, she’s “in the middle of Happily Ever After” when she meets John Harding at a work seminar. Flattered by his accomplished flirting, and reminded of a time not so long ago when she could wrestle with the best of them, she nonetheless leaves the encounter with her marriage vows intact. When they meet again a few months later at a conference in Paris, however, the two begin an affair. The story’s winning attribute is its depiction of the relationships among Connie and her female friends, all strikingly different personalities, though all are horrified by Connie’s actions (except Lucy, who makes it a point to sleep only with married men). To justify her affair, Connie convinces herself that John may be her true destiny and Luke only a comfort. While she’s stealing afternoon hours away from work to have sex with John against alley walls, her cynical friend Lucy is falling in love (but with whose husband?), prim Daisy is getting engaged, and Rose is becoming increasingly unhappy in a marriage that consists more of changing diapers than exchanging loving glances. When John finally dumps Connie, she runs back to Luke’s innocent embrace—until the evening her drunken ex-lover sends explicit faxes to the house, and Luke moves out the same night. Can Connie get Luke back? More importantly, does she deserve to get him back? Despite the comic tone, and character analysis based primarily on detailed clothing description, newcomer Parks palpably conveys the anguish Connie experiences while still providing a relatively happy ending.

A balanced exploration of the rules of marriage.

Pub Date: July 11th, 2000
ISBN: 0-671-77543-X
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2000


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