Set among a group of rich African-American Houstonians, Tucker’s (Somebody Has to Pay, 2015) novel explores the impact of friends and family on a troubled marriage, for better and worse.
Married seven years and feeling it, Leela and Riley Franklin agree to do whatever they want one Friday a month, no questions asked. Their hope is to avoid the infidelity and divorce that have plagued their closest friends and family. Riley’s views on marriage are hardly egalitarian: “He was in charge and…what he said was the rule of the house.” So when Leela finds a sensitive man who puts her first, she questions whether her marriage is worth keeping. The book is not as racy as the premise implies, with only a couple of brief sexual scenes. Instead, it's an exploration of the unraveling of a marriage. The slow plot, conveyed almost entirely through dialogue, often circles over covered ground, making the novel feel longer than it is. Riley is so neglectful and dismissive it's hard to understand what drew Leela to him in the first place. His eventual realization that a wife is more than a domestic servant comes almost as an afterthought. Secondary characters are often flat (the scheming ex-lover, the newly liberated divorcée). Leela’s journey is the most nuanced and interesting as she tries to balance her obligations as friend, wife, lover, and daughter with her own needs and desires as a woman.
An unromantic yet hopeful look at the problems and possibilities presented by modern marriage that doesn't fully meet the challenge of its complex premise.