Say When

Berg, Elizabeth. Say When. Brilliance Audio on CD, 2003.

Elizabeth Berg captures the heart and soul of jilted husband Frank Griffin perfectly. Wait. Can a husband be jilted? Sure enough except most people prefer to write about the woman’s side of the story. When his wife Ellen announces she is in love with someone else (the mechanic from her automotive class) and wants a divorce Griffin (as he likes to be called) goes through all the typical myriad of emotions. His disbelief, anger, jealousy, sarcasm and sadness permeate his every waking moment. Refusing to give his wife a divorce or even move out of their house Griffin forces Ellen into a roommate relationship. He fluctuates between wanting to win her back and disbelieving he has to do anything of the sort. He has floated through the years of their marriage without a single thought to the sameness of their daily lives, the routine-ness of their relationship. He has been comfortable with the predictability of their days and never considered that Ellen might not share that opinion. Adding insult to injury she admits she doubts she ever loved him, even going so far as to say she knew they never should have gotten married in the first place. Ouch. I won’t spoil the end but I can say this, not everyone has agreed with these characters. I guess that’s what makes them real to me. We can’t like everything or everyone. Ellen’s character is particularly hard to like because she is so vague but that’s one of the things that makes her real in my opinion.

As I mentioned before, one of the most refreshing aspects of this book is that it is told from the man’s perspective and it’s the woman who had the affair. I think it goes to show you that men can be prone to jealousy and childish name calling (“Mr. Crank Shaft” was my favorite) just as much as a woman. The stereotypes have been further messed with when it’s revealed that Ellen is going out with a much younger man.

Reason read: this is going to sound bizarre but I chose Say When because I am celebrating my 8th wedding anniversary this month. Reading about a relationship in trouble makes me extremely grateful mine is solid, fun and loving!

Author fact: Elizabeth Berg won the New England Books Award in 1997.

Book trivia: According to Berg’s own website Say When was made into a television movie for CBS called “A Very Married Christmas.”

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Marriage Blues” (p 162).

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