New Book – The Affair by Colette Freedman

184786491

Publishing year: 2013

I started this book this afternoon, and  love every minute of it.

The topic is not easy. It is, like the title suggests, about an affair, seen from two points of view, the wife and the husband.

We first see facts from the wife’s attitude. It is Kathy, mother of two teenagers, who has been married to Mark for eighteen years. It is December, and as Kathy writes the family’s Christmas cards, she needs to check some addresses of her husband’s clients. As Robert is in the shower, she has a look at his mobile phone. AS she goes through the names, she is shocked to find a name there: Stephanie Burroughs. Six years ago Stephanie worked for her husband, and Kathy suspected he was having an affair with Stephanie, something which he denied. Stephanie ended up leaving, and he and Kathy settled back into their life. Now she has a terrible feeling, seeing that name, especially as there is a red flag, marking her name. From that moment Kathy starts trying to find proof. A conversation with a friend, Rose, who tells her that her husband had an affair with three women and she kept quiet, makes her more determined to do something.

Little by little Kathy starts realising things that she hadn’t noticed before. It dawns on her that Robert started worrying about his looks for a while. Then in his study she finds the receipt for a visa card she had no idea he had. The receipt is for flowers and a restaurant. She also finds a speeding ticket on a date when he was supposed to be out of town. Kathy is torn what to believe. She is almost sure that Robert is cheating on her, but she has a little hope that she is simply paranoid. Then when she talks to her younger sister, she considers that her suspicions can have an explanation. Then at the weekend he goes to the office. At the beginning of their marriage Kathy and Mark set up R&K, a company that makes documentaries and commercials. Yet, Kathy stopped working to look after the children. Kathy hasn’t been to the office for a long time, and now she thinks that if there is something Robert is hiding, it must be there. And she finds the proof. His telephone bill shows that Robert calls Stephanie’s number seven or eight times a day plus several text messages. This is proof, and when she goes to see Maureen, the company’s secretary, who is off sick, she confirms her suspicions. Maureen also thinks that Robert and Stephanie are having an affair, but what shatters Kathy is that the woman thinks that they are in love. Kathy also learns that her husband has been cheating on her for eighteen months.

Kathy is hearbroken, but she is not a coward. So with Maureen’s information she knows that Mark and Stephanie go to the gym together every Monday and then they have dinner. Kathy wants to see them with her own eyes, and Shelley goes with her, and there they are: her husband and her lover. Then Kathy reaches a decision: she will talk to Stephanie herself. I don’t know what Kathy will talk to the woman about, but I’m afraid it will hurt her.

I feel so sorry for Kathy. I can’t say she is flawless. I think that over the years she has taken Robert for granted, and the familiarity of their relationship has wreaked havoc on their marriage. In Robert’s parts he complains that Kathy doesn’t care about what he thinks or how he looks, but he doesn’t stop to think if he actually worries about her at all. He says he loves her, but he shows little love for her, and he unfairly thinks that all she does all day is sit at home, watching TV.

Then we have Robert’s account. We know that six years ago he didn’t have an affair with Stephanie, but he admits he wanted to, so when Kathy accused him, he felt very guilty. Now after having run into Stephanie a couple of years ago, he didn’t avoid meeting him, and when they started their affair, he claims he felt more alive than ever. I think he might be right, and maybe Kathy should have paid more attention to some aspects of their marriage, but so should he. He says that Stephanie is intense, creative in the bedroom, ambitious, and is always interested in him. From the snippets we get from Stephanie, I have to say I don’t like her at all. She is too pushy, demanding more and more from him. I could have understood that a woman could fall for a married man, but this one sounds as if she pursued it. I guess she is the kind of person who doesn’t care about a man being married. If she had, she wouldn’t have tried to meet Mark so much when there was nothing between them. Now Robert claims he loves her, but he wants to keep his wife and children. I wonder if Stephanie is really happy with this arrangement, and maybe she will soon ask him to leave Kathy. Robert is considering breaking up with Stephanie after Christmas as he thinks this is getting too complicated. In fact, he tried to break up with her a few months ago, but when she brought some very-needed business for his company, he felt he owed her and couldn’t leave her.

I have the feeling this story won’t end up well. There is a second book of the series called “Consequences”, so this makes me think that when the truth gets known, nothing will be the same again.

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