Two marriages. One just chuggin’ along in Maine mundanity; the other brim full of New England chill. And then there was Boston.
In some quarters ‘Five Days’ has been seen as a defence of marital infidelity. In doing the rounds, spruiking this 2013 novel, Kennedy himself offered up the following – that if ‘…you are no longer responsible for the day-to-day welfare of your children and you accept that your marriage has flat-lined – what then? I fully believe that the only person responsible for your happiness (or lack thereof) is yourself.’ The author cites the French and their less strictured views on adultery, compared to those of his country of birth. He should know, he’s lived in that European nation off and on for fifteen years. The French, he muses, live with the idea that ‘…you can manifold different rooms within for your own intimate life.’ But that notion is not the path taken by Kennedy’s protagonists in this readable tome. For them, it’s all or nothing
Radiologist Laura (RL) is in town to attend a professional conference. Mr Insurance Man (MIM) is there on business. The two first encounter each other and exchange a few pleasantries in lining up to be processed into the nondescript rooms of a nondescript Boston hotel. Initially, to RL, MIM is the epitome of nondescript as well, so initially she thinks little of this chance meeting. It is only after, when she finds herself randomly sharing a revivalist cinema room with him and they again chat, that she feels there may be some substance to this fellow. To the pair’s delight, over a drink, they discover they have oh so much in common. Both share a love of, obviously, old movies, but there’s much, much more. Both have been thwarted in life when it comes to achieving their great ambitions; both have a love for pushing the envelope when it comes to peppering their conversation with literary devices and both have rebounded from a great wasn’t-to-be love affair into direly unrewarding wedlock. And, would you believe, both can quote to each other from the great works of American literature. The two, just to add an extra cause for comparing notes, both have male offspring with distressing mental health issues. Of course, with so much commonality, RL decides that MIM is quite a lively and attractive guy, despite his beige tones. MIM comes quickly to the opinion that he may well be in the presence of the second great love of his life. What the reader discovers, as they open up to each other about their back stories, is that, whereas RL has a modicum of spine, MIM has zilch.
What is undeniable is that there’s mutual attraction – but will they act on it? They don’t dally around these two. They are soon planning a life together once they also discover how super-charged their lovemaking is. So what if RL has a hubby back up in Maine struggling through his own mid-life crisis and a daughter engaging with all the vicissitudes of emerging into womanhood. MIM has his family business to run, albeit not much else going in his life to rave about. His wife is an icicle. Are they going to totally throw their present flawed lives away so readily.? You betcha they are. Their love, after a couple of days knowing each other, is just so right it has to be. The sparks in the bedroom, as well as their complete and utter in-synch-ness in all of life’s important stuff, soon have them looking at Boston apartments to co-habit. And then there are romantic trips to Paris to plan. In the process RL is transforming MIM into a funky and hot-to-trot bohemian, in terms of his attire. If you think it’s all too good to be true and that there is a fall coming once reality and common sense intervene, well then, you don’t know these two. But they’ll need spine to achieve it.
Now really I should have disliked this novel intensely. Both RL and MIM are, to put it bluntly, gits. And their conversations, as a twosome, are simply way too clever and nuanced for besotted lovers so caught up in infatuation and lust. The whole scenario is not in any way believable to this reader. Are there two people, anywhere, so pompously stupid? So it must be a rare talent that can turn what Kennedy has chosen to work with into a narrative that is almost unputdownable. I just had to find out if these two self-absorbed and woe-is-me beings would defy the odds and find true one hundred percent happiness in each other’s arms. Or would RL see through MIM’s complete sappiness? Such an unlikely pairing, it sure couldn’t come up all smelling of roses, could it?
I like Douglas Kennedy’s work. Not all his product, it must be said, has caught me in the same way as this one. ‘Five Days’ really appealed against the odds, but I can see, for some, it may be just too preposterous for words; the love-struck beings so totally annoying. Admittedly there have been a couple of lemons in the fair number of this wordsmith’s back product that I have read. But he is definitely an author I’d recommend. even if perhaps not with this tome as a starting point. Kennedy isn’t someone I rush out to buy as soon as a book bearing his moniker is published, but I dare-say his new offering, ‘The Blue Hour’, will eventually end up on my shelves.
Kennedy’s website = http://www.douglaskennedynovelist.com/