Covet by Tracey Garvis Graves (Sept., 2013)

covet

At first, I was taken aback by Graves’ lack of verbal artifice, her plain narration of the alternating points of view of Claire, her husband Chris, and Claire’s friend and possible lover, Daniel. But it did not prevent me from getting propelled into their lives. I finished the novel in two days, and can feel the characters still lingering in my head, as though their lives continue outside the encapsulating book covers. I believe now the plain narration is fitting for a story that seeks to lay bare the progression a budding affair can take. How the innocent and friendly and more-or-less proper can slip past boundaries and become complicated. How we avoid looking, and talking, clearly about friendships with the opposite sex, so we can postpone admitting that they are rarely the uncomplicated things we want them to be. How we struggle to remain constant when we don’t get what we need. And how dependent we are on each other’s understanding of that struggle, taking responsibility for it, and forgiving. Graves’ story is ultimately an optimistic one. It’s refreshing, in the age of Fifty Shades Madness, to be reminded of our honorable potential (Is that too harsh? Do I sound like a prude? I don’t mean to – I only mean to say that I enjoyed reading about an average married couple who endured difficult but average hardship, and behaved with above-average integrity). The ending is not pat. There is no sticky sweetness or cliché to the honorableness. It is hard and painful. Complicated. And yet, in the final analysis . . . it’s pretty simple. You love, and you remain loving: sometimes up, sometimes down, constantly evolving. But you love. The naked simplicity of that vision is what propels us into honorable living when our lives are not as we hoped they would be. It’s what brings that disappointing present into the future we do, indeed, want.

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About Cheryl McNeil
I am the User Services Librarian at the Orangeburg Library in Orangeburg, NY

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