A unique and morally ambiguous business plan causes conflict and chaos in the small town of Nohquee, New Jersey.
Lucy is an elementary school teacher and recently divorced mother to a young son. During a lunch with one-half of her social circle—the still-married moms—she expresses frustration over the lack of men in her life who are sane, disease-free, and not looking for commitment. The conversation goes astray when her friend Gina jokingly offers up her husband for a no-strings-attached hookup. Many of the wives are exhausted and uninterested in their husbands’ rabid sexual appetites. While the women initially laugh at the outrageous prospect, one wife, Nancy, decides to pursue the matter with Lucy. Feeling like her marriage is on the rocks, Nancy hopes that by allowing her husband to sleep with another woman, it will help revive their relationship. After establishing the ground rules, Lucy enjoys an afternoon with Ted, and all parties reap the benefits: while Nancy and Ted’s relationship appears to be on the mend, Lucy receives a few favors in return. Since all parties seemed pleased with the endeavor, Nancy concocts a plan—The Program, an opportunity for overwhelmed married women to contract with local divorcées to help satiate their husbands’ desires. No money would be exchanged—only favors—and an oath of absolute secrecy would help keep the peace. But could it really be so simple? Lucy feels conflicted over her new role, frequently wondering if she's violating a moral code. To make matters even more difficult, Lucy is juggling some fledgling potential relationships with her list of husbands from The Program. Though her needs are being met, she struggles to figure out this new version of herself.
With vivid characters, quick dialogue, and over-the-top situations, Chickering’s debut novel alternates between moments of true hilarity and deep introspection.