Love and Other Natural Disasters – Holly Shumas

Title: Love and Other Natural Disasters
Author: Holly Shumas
ISBN: 0446504777
Pages: 352
Release Date: January 8, 2009
Review: Hachette Book Group Blog Tour
Challenge: Countdown Challenge, A to Z Challenge, 2009 Pub Challenge
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: 4 out of 5

From the back cover:

Eve is eight months pregnant and in the middle of a Thanksgiving celebration when she discovers that her husband Jonathan has developed an intimate relationship with a woman over the past year. Jonathon asserts his innocence (an affair involves physical intimacy, and he didn’t have any), while Eve feels deeply betrayed by the emotional connection he shared with someone else. What Jon has done seems so terrifyingly out of character that Eve finds herself questioning her entire reality. Did she ever really know Jon at all? Was their happiness together a lie? Is emotional intimacy more forgivable than sexual intimacy? And can their marriage survive?

Love and Other Natural Disasters is an incredibly thought-provoking book that will leave the reader pondering long after the novel is finished. It’s a great question, especially for those who are in a serious relationship or are married: what constitutes betrayal? Does it have to be physical? Of course it’s okay for your partner to have friends of the opposite sex. If there is no physical element, when does that friendship turn into something more? Where is that line? When exactly does it become betrayal? Can emotional straying actually be worse than physical?

These are great questions that are especially relevant in today’s computer age. And I have to say, I had some trouble making up my mind as to whether Eve was completely justified in her anger. I don’t argue that a relationship doesn’t have to be physical; emotional betrayal is completely possible and is a serious issue. But I just wasn’t sure how to respond to Jon’s betrayal and Eve’s response in the novel. Sometimes I thought she was totally justified; other times I felt like she was being cruel and petty. I think this is purposeful on the part of the author. She does a great job demonstrating that there were underlying issues in Jon and Eve’s marriage that led to the betrayal. It’s no use trying to tackle the betrayal issue if you don’t face the other problems as well.

The author is a therapist by day, and it really shows in her characters. They are all well-developed and fully realized, but they aren’t perfect. They act like normal humans; when Jon hurts Eve, she lashes out at him. She doesn’t mean to be cruel, but it’s a standard reaction. I appreciated this in Love and Other Natural Disasters. The conflicts weren’t created in order to move the plot along and add length to the book. Instead, it seems like the reader has a window into a real couple acting out a real drama.

The thing I probably liked best about the novel is the end message: it takes two to create a problem in a relationship. I appreciated how Shumas didn’t characterize the conflict as one-sided. Yes, Jon was at fault. But so was Eve. It’s too easy, especially in chick lit, to blame the man for betrayal and leave it at that. That’s not always the case, which Shumas points out in Love and Other Natural Disasters. This book will most likely leave the reader with some mixed feelings, but it will definitely give you something to think about.

A big thank you to Miriam @ Hachette for sending me this novel to read and review! For other reviews, visit these sites on the Love and Other Natural Disasters blog tour:

http://www.writeforareader.edublogs.org
http://www.bermudaonion.wordpress.com
http://booksamyreads.blogspot.com
http://cafeofdreams.blogspot.com/
http://ablogofbooks.blogspot.com/
http://www.acircleofbooks.blogspot.com
http://athomewithbooks.blogspot.com
http://www.myfriendamysblog.com
http://thetometraveller.blogspot.com/
http://bookingmama.blogspot.com/
http://2kidsandtiredbooks.blogspot.com
http://www.skrishnasbooks.com
http://enroutetolife.blogspot.com/
http://www.anovelmenagerie.com
http://printedpage.us
http://cindysloveofbooks.blogspot.com/
http://luanne-abookwormsworld.blogspot.com/
http://bookopolis.blogspot.com
http://www.bookthoughtsbylisa.blogspot.com
http://exlibrisbb.blogspot.com/
http://jennsbookshelf.blogspot.com/
http://www.marjoleinbookblog.blogspot.com
http://linussblanket.com

Comments

  1. I’ve sort of avoided this one, sounds too sad for me but who knows!

  2. This book made me think a lot, too. I did get aggravated with Eve at times, but I have no idea how I would react to that situation.

  3. Great review Swapna. I’m on the fence with this one. I’m still not sure whether I’d like to read it or not.

  4. Great review. I agree with everything you said. Eve kind of drove me crazy, but she did seem very real. This book has really got me thinking about my own relationship, and where I have been to blame.

  5. I had mixed feelings about the book too. I felt that it was well written, but then again the subject matter was so heavy it wasn’t always enjoyable.

  6. Hi there… I agree, I enjoyed the characters presented with all their flaws. It made the story more real. I waver on my feelings about the book. But not the writing or the quality, sometimes it was just hard to get through due to the heavy subject matter.

  7. I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Swapna!

  8. I to enjoy honesty in a book, and flaws do show an honest and fully developed character. It was too much for me though.

    I really liked your review and how you mentioned that it was two sided. I hadn’t really thought about that part of the argument! Great review!

  9. I enjoyed your review. The ending seems to have generated the most discussion on this tour.

  10. Great review! I just reviewed it here (and linked to your review).

  11. Wonderful review! Sounds like an interesting book, and I’m especially curious about it given the author’s experience as a therapist.

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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