Once upon a time, I tried reading Adultery by Louise DeSalvo, but was stopped short after the first paragraph.

“Unless you consciously (or unconsciously) want to jet-propel yourself into committing adultery, reading about it isn’t such a good idea. Because reading about it, I can assure you, will almost certainly result in your thinking about doing it, and perhaps even in your doing it.”

At the time, that warning was enough to cause me to put her book down and move on.  Five years later, I am faced with a similar situation  – and believe me, there are many library books about affairs – but I decided to have a go.

I was pleasantly surprised in the first section of this novel. It doesn’t get into the details of the affair, but rather focuses on the wife who suspects her husband of cheating and has to decide how to handle it.  It’s compelling from a psychological perspective, and she seems to be able to think somewhat clearly even in the midst of crazy Christmas planning.

I didn’t realize until partway through that I also had to hear things from the husband’s side of the story…and then from the mistress. I was skeptical, but I kept an open mind and plowed ahead. It veered a bit to the smutty side as I assumed it would.  Let me be straightforward when I say that I’m never going to side with an adulterer. But it was good to see some of the same conversations played out from his perspective, because it highlighted some of the misperceptions they had about one another.

And then the mistress. I was surprisingly lenient towards her. Yes, she knew she was fooling around with a married man. No one in this book gets any awards for character. But I can appreciate that Freedman gave us all the perspectives to look at.

Without giving anything away, I can say that it had probably the best ending that could occur given the situation. It’s definitely not a HAPPY ending, but I almost started liking everyone by the last scene. I do have to take points away for subject matter alone, but given the topic, it wasn’t awful.

Rating = 2


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