Husband & Wife is the story of Nathan and Sarah. Sort of. Mostly it is the story of Sarah, or better yet the story of Nathan and Sarah from Sarah’s perspective.
Nathan, the husband, is a fiction writer. Choosing to write and stay home with the kids, he fills his days with the balancing of shopping, playing with their two children and writing. Sarah, on the other hand, works at a job she does well, but could care less about. They face the same things we each face, in our marriages, everyday.
Even more so though, this could be is a story of betrayal. Sort of. More so the story of marriage- the granola parts of marriage, that is. The cold cereal and spilt milk realities of marriage, that we married people often try to wipe up and hide before someone sees our mess- our flaws… Granted, not every marriage contains a betrayal, and although in this novel the character’s marriage does- that isn’t really the point. The point is more so how we wake up one day, years after vows at the alter, and realize we’ve changed. Maybe our passions matured, our dreams died down, our children tamed us or real life and adult responsibilities dulled our edges. It’s about finding yourself, without going backwards. The majority of us, if we reflected on our society honestly (and the pop culture we tend to allow to influence and guide our lives) we’d have to admit that most of the time, when waking up to this position, people do attempt to find themselves by trying to go back.
I don’t even know, really. It’s kind of about a lot.
I truthfully couldn’t put this book down. It wasn’t even that I saw myself in Sarah, (or my husband in Nathan.) Not at first, anyway.
Ok, sure, our marriage has a betrayal sandwiched in the middle of it. We reconciled in spite of it, and became truer versions of ourselves (or at least try to be) because of it… That isn’t where I felt myself. No. It was more in the secret subtle moments of normal thoughts and self seeking questions. It was more in the moments where Sarah realized she’d lost something valuable, in herself, but wasn’t sure she wanted it back. Or what she wanted. It was in the moments which sounded selfish, but turned out to exist solely because Sarah was a wife- she no longer lived for herself, but was someone complete because she was woven together with this other person. Finding herself, wasn’t just about herself…
I suspect the majority of us have been there before. If not yet, the time is coming… It’s not a bad thing, I don’t think. It’s vital, perhaps.
Husband & Wife is a beautiful book. Leah Stewart’s way with words is intoxicating. It is raw and sometimes uncomfortable, as all raw things should be. It is honest, it’s characters human to their core. It is real, and relatable. It is, quite possibly, the most honest look at marriage (and what it is, and what it costs us as well as what it gives to us) that I’ve ever read…