A debut literary novel focuses on a troubled couple’s relationship dynamics.
What happens when cracks start to form in the ideal life? Hannah and Will Abbott embody the picture-perfect existence, with their supportive marriage, beautiful home, and two wonderful kids. But when each starts to suspect the other of infidelity, the ordinary points of friction in any relationship spiral into a major crisis. The plot really kicks off when Hannah seeks advice from a divorce attorney, dramatically escalating tensions until neither spouse can stop their stories from taking on lives of their own. It’s at this point that the novel truly shines, with the introduction of David Dewey and Rachel Goldstein, Will and Hannah’s respective attorneys, as point-of-view characters, lending the portrait of the couple more depth. Additionally, the lawyers spur the proceedings forward, rapidly escalating tensions even as their personal and professional lives become increasingly entangled with the Abbotts’. But an unexpected opportunity presents itself when Will and Hannah get an offer to appear on a reality TV show about divorcing couples. With the gorgeous backdrop of St. John and millions watching, the two are surrounded by distractions and temptations, but they may also finally have the breathing room to think things over the right way and decide whether this is an ending or a new beginning. Treese’s prose is strong and naturalistic throughout, giving readers deep insight into the characters’ thought processes and sticking close to their perspectives. The story also occasionally skips around in time, especially toward the beginning, which provides a detailed look at the relationship. If there is a fault in the characterization, it’s that Will and Hannah lean toward the archetypal. He’s spontaneous while she’s fastidious; she’s composed when he’s childish. These are familiar tropes, but the humor, the momentum of the plot, and the complications and viewpoints presented by Rachel and David more than make up for any sense of rote familiarity. Ultimately, this nuanced and empathetic novel balances the difficult and the heartwarming, managing to become more than the sum of its parts.
A clever, incisive character study that explores romance and strife.