Author: Randy Susan Meyers
Accidents of Marriage grabbed me and refused to let go, I was caught up in this narrative in a way that I haven’t been just recently. I didn’t want to put it down, right up until the very end when it took me two days to read the last 15 pages because I wasn’t ready for it to end yet. I also wanted to be able to put it down and write the review immediately, while it was all at the forefront of my mind. Alas, that was not to be but hopefully I will be able to tap into what I was thinking.
Maddy is a social worker juggling her career, her three children and her passionate public defender husband Ben. She is working in a field she truly believes in, that she knows gives her the ability to make a difference in peoples lives, so her meetings and court dates are more than just another day at the office. Coupled with raising her children and running a house this means that there really are never enough hours in the day. A feeling most mothers would well and truly understand.
Ben is a public defender and he is passionate about his job, early on it was his passion that drew Maddy to Ben but once the honeymoon phase was over and their lives together became generic that passion erupted in much less admirable ways. Ben’s passion morphed into rages and tirades, often with little provocation, so after a long day at work when Maddy needs to be preparing dinner, dealing with the children and tidying up she finds herself exhuasted trying to work out what sort of mood Ben may come home in.
A happy Ben is an absolute joy but if someone sets him off it’s no fun for anyone, and Maddy watches how her children have already learned to ‘manage’ Ben. His mood seems like it could be a little on edge so lets anticipate his needs and wait on him devotedly, maybe then we can avoid the eruption of temper – or rapidly cool the temper depending on the situation. Maddy watching her daughters behave like this does not help her state of mind at all, the last thing any mother wants is to watch the cycle perpetuate with her children but hey, if it soothes the savage beast perhaps it’s worth it in the short term.
Ben is a very self-centred man, filled with his own sense of importance. He needs things to work out around his schedule, his work is way too important to be put off for the family so Maddy needs to rearrange her schedule. He works long hours and is hardly ever home meaning Maddy is picking up all the slack – all of the housework and ferrying of the children is on her shoulders because her career is less important. There is a lot in the dynamic of the early stages that I think many women would relate to:
No, I can’t drop the kids off because what I’m doing is more important.
I want to make love to my wife now so the household chores you haven’t done that you are working through now can wait and I’ll make promises to help out int he morning, though we all know there probably won’t be time.
Why is everything not done, what have you been doing all day.
I am going to back you up while you discipline the children by adding my own two cents and upping the ante – this one is such a difficult one because they really are trying to help but it just ends up making things worse.
Maddy is drained, totally exhausted from trying to keep up as well as keeping the family on an even keel so she has worked her way up to a dependence on prescription meds to help get her through the day. She loves Ben, still now she loves Ben and her body still reacts to him and she wants him to be happy – well life’s much easier when he’s happy. Maddy and her coworker Olivia run an education and support group for battered women, The Blues Club which runs on a Wednesday. They sit with a group of women talking about what’s going on in their lives, all of them battered at some point but their situations are widely different. As Maddy sits listening she sometimes finds herself comparing herself to the women in the group yet shutting down the thoughts as soon as they start.
Accidents of Marriage is told from three very different points of view. We follow the family through the eyes of Maddy, Ben and their fourteen year old daughter Emma as Ben’s temper changes their world forever.
Randy Susan Meyers has written an unputdownable novel which is sure to stay with you long after you turn the final page.
Ben’s rages have never been violent, sometimes he has lashed out at inanimate objects but never his family. The lack of physical violence hasn’t stopped the fear of the family or their desire to placate him and the threat that a rage will escalate one day. Maddy is surrounded by close friends and family whom she has always talked with so there is no shortage of people who know about his temper.
A tragic accident leaves Maddy fighting for her life and Ben on the brunt of the blame train because everyone knows about his temper.
In the time after the accident Ben slowly – very slowly – finally begins to see things outside of himself a little differently but will it be too late.
Emma is heaped with a lot more responsibility for Caleb and Gracie, her younger brother and sister, and the house. She is forced to grow up way to fast and I watched her very much with bated breath to see how she would cope, always hoping she would find her way.
All of the characters in this story are well drawn and realistic, all are flawed but also have redeeming qualities.
One thing that really sticks with me is that Maddy is working with battered women, she knows what constitutes abuse, she knows how things can escalate and yet she is in the marriage she is. Does her marriage make it easier for her to relate to these women and understand why they stay…
Accidents of Marriage is well worth the read for everyone, it has stayed with me and I think will continue to do so for quite some time. The more I think about it the more I see. The book addresses the far reaching effects of anger issues and the long term effects it can have on children. A tale of love, loss, tragedy, triumph, growing up, waking up, family, friendship, forgiveness and everything in between.
Accidents of Marriage is available now in all good bookstores.