BOOK CLUB: The Marriage Sabbatical

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Thank you to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read The Marriage Sabbatical by Gemma Johns.

Sophie, Charli, and Alice are the Wilson sisters.

Sophie is married to her high school boyfriend. They have been together for 30 years. She is a busy lady as a mum to four children, and a career as a doctor. She has very little time to herself. She had always thought that once the kids became teenagers she could reclaim her time, but she has more demands, not less.

Charli has a management role and is happily married to Monique. They have been married for 23 years and have two girls who are close to leaving home. Monique has just been promoted.

Alice, a journalist is married to Jason. They have been married for 5 years. Alice hasn’t yet decided if she would like to have children. Jason is devoted to her, however, she is questioning if he is the one for her “forever”.

Monique is handed 12 months away from her normal work…a sabbatical…to do research.

Charli’s world is turned upside down when it turns out that Monique plans to do her research in Europe and on her own. She wants to take time to “really focus on me and find out what would my potential have been if I wasn’t married and had kids”. In fact, Monique suggests to Charli that she also take a “sabbatical” herself! To take her own discovery time.


A year out of their marriage? How would they ever come back from that?

Charli shares her “ Marriage Sabbatical” news and announces that she herself now plans to spend time in Queensland.

Alice makes a decision to join her. And when Alice’s boss hears about this unusual “Marriage Sabbatical”, he signs her for a book deal. She is to write a book on her experiences!


With the two sisters making plans and then leaving, Sophie is quite envious. Shortly after Phil suggests that she join her sisters. “To get back to the old you”.

Throughout their journeys, we really get to know the sisters and their families. They are lovely and relatable characters.

What escapades do the ladies get up to while they are away? What did they discover about themselves? Will any of their marriages survive?


I thoroughly recommend this book. Firstly, for the engaging story of the three women on their journey of self-discovery.

Secondly, this book is actually two books. Another book within the book. Cleverly, Alice’s research for her book is entwined in the story. Twelve excellent and valid tips on relationships and life. So you’re actually reading a self-help book without realising it.

Thirdly, this book has been written by a Beauty and Lace Club member, who has had the courage to be herself and follow her dream of becoming a writer. I know we will be reading many more of her books in the future.

Congratulations Gemma Johns on your success.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading The Marriage Sabbatical by Gemma Johns. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

24 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Marriage Sabbatical

  1. The Wilson sisters! Sophie, Charli and Alice embark on a 6 month sabbatical which was prompted by Charli’s wife Monique who was on a 12 month sabbatical of her own. They decided to search within themselves to find self discovery and return to their families after feeling refreshed.
    What happens in this time has to be read about to know taking time out doesn’t mean taking time out from everyday life. Things happen and you still have to deal with them. Relationships change, family issues happen and heart ache occurs. All sisters get on well but have different reasons for taking the sabbatical.
    Will this work for them?
    A refreshing read which creates thinking as you do. Very likeable characters too. I’d actually really like a follow up story. See where it takes them, especially for Sophie!

  2. Thanks for giving me the chance to read this book.
    I found it very easy reading. It was something different than the usual.
    The sisters all had different reasons for taking a sabbatical but all were worried they were doing the wrong. It was interesting to see how it all worked out.

  3. The Marriage Sabbatical by Gemma Johns
    Sophie, Charlie and Alice are sisters leading happy but busy lives. When Charlie’s wife Monique is offered a sabbatical from her job as a University professor she decides she would like to take a year in Europe to discover herself, leaving behind her wife and two daughters.
    After Charlie gets over the initial shock of Monique’s decision she starts to think about how she might like some time away too.
    This leads to a conversation with her sisters. Convincing Alice to join her is easy, although Alice’s husband of only 5 years isn’t too thrilled.
    Sophie on the other hand can’t even dream about leaving her husband, four teenagers and her Doctor’s practice, although she is very jealous of her sisters.
    When things start to get tough at home Sophie’s husband suggests she should join her sisters.
    For the next five months the girls live together in Queensland and with the help of their gorgeous Great Auntie go on a quest to ‘find themselves’
    This is a lovely book about family life – good and bad and the close bond(most of the time) of sisters that had me wishing for some time out in sunny Queensland too!
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Gemma Johns for the opportunity to read The Marriage Sabbatical

  4. Thank-you Beauty & Lace for giving me the chance to read & review ‘The Marriage Sabbatical’ an e-book by Gemma Johns.
    Three sisters living happy but busy lives turn their worlds upside-down when they each decide to take a ‘marriage sabbatical’ for 5 months to find themselves again and to really understand what and who is important in their lives. Initially it is an adventure to leave all their ordinary lives behind, but the time spent together as sisters re-establishes their bonds with lots of fun and laughter.
    However, life does move forward creating a few hiccups in the way, ultimately changing the way they all look at their relationships and how things are to progress into the future. I really enjoyed reading this book and seeing the characters grow. Thank-you ‘Beauty & Lace Bookclub’ for the opportunity to read ‘The Marriage Sabbatical’ an e-book by Gemma Johns.

  5. The Marriage Sabbatical by Gemma Johns is the story of three sisters Charli, Sophie, and Alice Wilson. All sisters lead very busy lives in very different ways. Charli’s wife Monique wants takes up the offer of a sabbatical from her job and to take a year in Europe leaving behind her family to try and rediscover herself. The idea is a big shock for Charli, but she eventually comes around and she thinks of what she too can do for herself while Monique is away.

    After thought and discussions with her sisters Charli comes up with the idea that they too could go away. Convincing Alice to go was easy but her husband is not too happy. Sophie who is married with four children, a busy job as a doctor is not so easily convinced. Charli and Alice head off for time away leaving Sophie behind at home but its not long before Sophie joins her sisters. The sisters stay at the apartment of their Auntie as she is spending time in care. This gives the sisters the opportunity to travel around Queensland and to try rediscover themselves.

    Not all goes smoothly for the whole time away with Sophie having to return home after an incident with one of her children, but once things settle, she makes the decision to return to the sisters.

    After the sisters time away is over, they return to their everyday lives but not all is rosy, and things have certainly changed for one sister.

    A great read I would be especially interested if there was a sequel to see what happens in the next chapter of the sisters’ lives.

    1. Thank you for your lovely review. I’m pleased you enjoyed the book. I hadn’t thought of a sequel but some other people have mentioned them, too. Leave it with me!

  6. “The Marriage Sabbatical” revolves around an interesting premise and a credible plot. However, flat characters and unemotional writing made it a bit of an effort to engage with.

    The interesting premise will pique the interest of anyone who’s been in a long term relationship. Having set three sisters in very different life situations and relationships, Johns has given herself a lot of possibilities to explore.

    Unfortunately, I found the novel unengaging. The writing style is flat and unemotional. There’s a lot of detail, and a lot of exposition. I found the narrative distant. Neither did I feel any of the emotional struggles the three experienced. They were described so flatly that I simply didn’t engage.

    The three women don’t really come to life. I understood and empathised with their different situations. However, they all seemed quite two dimensional, and I didn’t feel involved with any of them or their lives.

    I did not find this particularly enjoyable. Yes, the premise was interesting and the set up had considerable potential. The writing style soon sapped my interest, however, and the flat characters couldn’t revive it. However, readers who prefer this kind of writing style are likely to be drawn in by the premise and find it more enjoyable.

  7. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Gemma Johns for the opportunity to read and review The Marriage Sabbatical.

    For many of us in long term relationships the idea of having some time off is probably very appealing, but if your partner announced they had been given the opportunity to have a years sabbatical from work, and thought it would be a good idea to take it overseas, without you or the children, most of us would be wondering if this meant there was something wrong in the relationship.

    This is precisely the situation that Charli is faced with when her wife of 20 plus years decides that for her years sabbatical from work she is heading over to Europe, without Charli and thinks it would be good if communication for the year is kept to a minimum. Charli is understandably confused and wonders what it means for their marriage. Although Monique insists that their marriage is sound, she just needs some time away from ‘family’ Charli is left wondering what the future holds.

    Charli then convinces her sisters Alice and Sophie to join her on a 6 month sabbatical, just the three of them. Sophie is a highly driven doctor with four children, and a lack of communication with her husband Phil, Alice is in a relationship with Jason, but not sure if she wants to be.

    The time away gives all parties a chance to consider their relationships, what they want out of them, and even if they want to be in them.

  8. The Marriage Sabbatical by Gemma Johns is an amazing book from start to finish
    The sisters Sophie Charlie and Alice are such likeable characters
    The sabbatical comes about when Charlie’s wife Monique is offered a year off from her job and decides to go to Europe
    Hence the 3 sisters decide that they will also take a marriage sabbatical leaving behind husbands and children
    The sisters really are a joy, they laugh cry and have fun together
    I would recommend this book it was wonderful

  9. Thank you Beauty & Lace and Gemma Johns, for the opportunity to read this book, ‘The Marriage Sebatical”
    I absolutely loved it, and binge read it in 1 night, as I couldn’t put it down.
    The 3 sisters grow and evolove subtly but profoudly in all of their relationships as their sebatical takes place, especially within themselves, which I found so beautifully written.
    The changes within themselves, and their normal every day lives, and reading how their sebatical not only changed their lives, but dramatically changed those of the familiies they left, made for an intersting mix of characters. With some sad, funny, and laugh out loud moments, it was the closest to real life sisters I have read in a long time.
    I highly recommend this fabulous read.

  10. Thank you for the opportunity to read ‘ The Marriage Sabbatical’ . I absolutely loved it. the characters were engaging, funny and relatable, and their relationships were all so interesting. It certainly makes you look at your own relationship- I have suggested to my sister that maybe we need to go on our own Sabbatical! I highly recommend this book!

  11. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Gemma Johns for allowing me to review The Marriage Sabbatical.
    I absolutely loved it. I found the three sisters, Sophie, Charli and Alice to be very likeable.
    I really enjoyed everything that happened along the way for the girls, it kept me hooked and taught me things that I really didn’t know existed.
    I highly recommend reading The Marriage Sabbatical.

  12. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Gemma Johns for the opportunity to read The Marriage Sabbatical.

    Who wouldn’t love the idea of a sabbatical from life, I know I would, but I don’t think it is something I could ever do which may have impacted my enjoyment of the book.

    It took me a little bit to get into the book, but once the ‘sabbatical’ got started I was keen to see what happened and enjoyed following the characters and their experiences.

    As other have said I would enjoy reading more about the sisters and will look out for other books by this author.

  13. I really enjoyed The Marriage Sabbatical by Gemma Johns.

    It is about three sisters- Sophie, Charli, and Alice who are all at different stages in their lives and love lives!

    When Charli’s wife announces she wants to take a sabbatical from ‘life’ for a year to discover herself it leads to the three sisters heading up North to Qld to do the same.

    The three go on self discovery with a little help from some people they meet and their Aunty Carole along the way. Will they end or mend their marriages? A great read.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace!

  14. This is a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about three sisters who go on a sabbatical. Charli, Sophie and Alice all have their reasons to go on a sabbatical from their day to day life after Charli’s partner goes away on sabbatical to focus on herself for several months. I found the angst and experience each woman experiences to be interesting. I think Gemma has shown that stereotypes often get in the way and particularly female roles can be quite different. This books breaks through many of them and there is a fair bit of relationship advice thrown in!

    I also loved seeing beautiful Brisbane described in the pages.

    Thanks so much for the opportunity to read this book.

  15. I really enjoyed ‘The Marriage Sabbatical’ by Gemma Johns, I was not familiar with Gemma’s work, thank you again Beauty and Lace for introducing me to another new author. This was a frolicking good read for me, I loved the adventure up the East Coast with the sisters, staying in a myriad of resorts along the way as well as a rent-free stint in Aunty Carole’s gorgeous apartment.

    The girls learn a lot about each other, their various marriages/relationships, quirks, truth and lies, the trip instigated by Charli’s wife, Monique needing to take a twelve month sabbatical in Europe away from work and Charli and their daughters, prompts the siblings to take a mini six months sabbatical of their own, albeit closer to home. Monique intent on finding herself, has insisted on minimal contact with Charli and their girls whilst she’s away, this doesn’t sit well with Charli and Charli dwells on it, until free spirit Emma takes Charli’s mind of it. I liked Emma’s character the best, Emma lives in the moment and enjoys each day as if it’s her last.

    The trip hits a bump in the road when Sophie, a Doctor, who finds it hard to unwind and totally relax, so much so, has taken up casual work along the way, and when she has to take an emergency flight back home, all is not as it seems, and someone isn’t telling her the truth.

    I loved this e-book by Gemma, and I felt the characters all differed greatly, their lifestyle, their take on the world, their marriages, and I feel the Wilson sisters have plenty more stories to tell and I felt this was Charli’s story and I can see both Alice and Sophie itching to tell stories of their own.

  16. The Marriage Sabbatical by Gemma Johns is a heart-warming and twisted take on everyday life, marriage, children, family and work. It gives you pleasure to read about others lives (though in an unconventional way) and that they go through the same slumps and humps as all of us.

    Sophie, Charlie and Alice are sisters with very different lives. Charie is the first to experience an out of the blue proposal that throws her life into complete and utter chaos as she works to make sense of it all and make choices that not only affect her but also her children. Next comes Alice, confused, unsure and unsatisfied with her life she jumps at a chance to escape, write a book and discover things about herself long forgotten or unexplored. Sophie is pushed into the sabbatical and does not take to it easily. She finds herself struggling with down time, missing her family and confused by her thoughts.

    The sisters spend time together away from their wintery homes in sunny QLD and find plenty to fill in their time. Including getting to know the real Great Aunt that they never knew as young children. They learn some interesting things about her life and how she struggled in private for a very long time.

    The sisters continue with their journey with some bumps along the way. The sisters continued self-discovery, bonding and support for one another makes this novel heart-warming, personal and a joy to read.

    Thankyou Beauty and Lace for the chance to have a read .

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