New Jane Green novel 'Tempting Fate' explores infidelity
When we meet the protagonist, Gabby, she is happily married to a doctor and coping fairly well with raising two teenagers. But a chance meeting on a girls' night out in a Westport bar changes her life.
Gabby meets an attractive social network entrepreneur from California -- 10 years her junior -- and they extend their pleasant conversation with an increasingly flirty email correspondence that leads to a one-night stand.
How Gabby navigates her midlife crisis, and the way her actions endanger her happy family life, already has caused consternation among some early Goodreads website reviewers.
"I'm surprised by that," Green said of the moralistic reaction online. "If you know me and read me, you shouldn't be surprised, because I never judge my characters. They're all flawed, they all make mistakes."
As regular readers of Green know, the writer's 15 novels have paralleled her own life, with the early books dealing with single life in her native England, and the later books reflecting the novelist's move to Westport at the turn of the century. The writer's first marriage and divorce added to the realism of her Connecticut novels, which also came to reflect Green's happy second marriage.
The plot of "Tempting Fate," she stresses, is not drawn from her own experience.
"I see so many couples coming apart. Sometimes I can see it coming, but other times I think, `Those people should still be together,' " Green said of loving couples surviving a meaningless affair.
"It can make for a divorce where neither one really wants to do that. There should be a way for them to get back together. The beauty of doing what I do is that I can give my characters that happy ending."
Green's empathy is one of her greatest strengths. She allows us to understand people who might be villains in another writer's novels. Green said she hopes this is a reflection of her maturity allowing her to see stories from multiple points of view.
"With Gabby you're dealing with a moment of intoxication," Green said of the spark struck by Matt's sensitive, but slightly suggestive email correspondence.
"When I hear about someone not wanting to read about this, I do wonder about their age and stage of life.
"I have never had an affair, but I think every (married) woman (has met someone) who pushed them a little bit. I've had friends talking about flirting at some event. The flutter they felt. The thrill of being seen," she said of a new man appreciating aspects of a woman that her husband might be taking for granted.
Women in their 40s sometimes start to feel "invisible," Green said, and a flirtation can remind them of the freedom they had before marriage.
With email and social networking making all sorts of new connections possible, people's fantasy lives can collide with reality in a way that didn't exist a generation ago.
"There are windows of opportunity that have nothing to do with our real lives," she said.
Green could see the attraction of these new virtual relationships in an email correspondence she struck up with an author she met at a book festival.
"I'm very happily married, but there was something almost addictive about the flirty emails -- the idea of someone paying attention. I thought, `Oh, this is how it happens,' " she said.
Green will be at the Darien Library, 1441 Post Road, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 25. Books will be available for purchase. Refreshments will be served. For information, visit www.darienlibrary.org or call 203-655-1234.
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