Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Covet by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Can a marriage survive prolonged disconnection?  Can two people who fell in love years ago stay together despite challenges?  Is it possible to love more than one person at a time?  These are the questions Clair Canton is asking herself in Tracy Garvis Graves’ novel, Covet.  And there are no easy answers to be found.

            Claire has been married for years to her husband, Chris, and they are living the typical suburban lifestyle.  Despite her need for an insulin pump, Claire is healthy and has a great many friends in the neighborhood.  Her husband works hard to support his family.  All of this changes when Chris loses his job and the family is forced to live on savings and Claire’s part time job as a freelance graphic designer.

            Anyone who has experienced long-term unemployment can predict what happens next.  Chris is unable to find a job and feels like a failure.  Despite Claire’s best efforts to provide support, Chris pulls away and sinks into a deep depression.  Claire is concerned and gets her husband to go to therapy, which leads him to be placed on antidepressants.  These pills take a toll on his libido, which makes him more depressed, which leads to more disconnection from his family, and the cycle continues to perpetuate.

            When Chris finally lands a job, the family is elated until they realize that the new position requires Chris to be out of town for at least four nights a week.  A profoundly lonely Clair is looking for a connection to someone—not the other women in her neighborhood, but to a police officer with whom she had a casual meeting.

            Daniel, who had pulled Clair over for a fix-it ticket, is lonely as well, and Claire is just the right type for him.  He gets her a job designing a logo for the police department, and before they know it, Claire and Daniel are spending part of every evening together—whether by phone, text, or in person.  Claire pledges not go to beyond anything but a platonic relationship, but can she resist Daniel and his attention and obvious feelings for her?

            I found Claire to be ridiculously simplistic in her thinking.  While she knew that spending time with Daniel was not something her husband would approve of, she justified herself by saying that she was not doing anything physical with Daniel.  Yet she did not tell her husband about her daily contact with Daniel either.  In a sense, I can understand Claire’s need for interaction with Daniel, but she allowed herself to cross several lines that would be common sense for most married people to avoid.

            Daniel never became a fleshed out character for me.  He is honest in stating that he is really broken up over a previous relationship with a woman that looks a lot like Claire, and he is lonely.  But beyond that, it just seems that he is pushing and pushing to get her to betray her marriage.

            In addition, the author uses several perfectly timed coincidences to move the plot along.  Most of them are health related and seem contrived just to introduce more tension or drama in a slow spot in the story.  For this to happen once is fine, but multiple times seems like a cheat to me.

            I did find Covet to be quite readable and it kept me interested in the story, but its shortcomings kept it from being a truly remarkable exploration of marriage and the consequences of marital drift.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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