Is marriage for life? Even if it gets boring? Even if he ignores you while a younger fox grabs your attention? We could go on for hours, discussing the importance of contemporary fidelity and whether it’s even realistic, and that’s exactly what Leslie A. Rasmussen has done in her first novel, After Happily Ever After.
Seventeen years ago, Maggie Dolin left her publishing career to raise her only child, Gia, who is about to leave for college. She’s been the caretaker and nurturer, but when her daughter leaves for college, she fears her life will be a blank slate. Her husband doesn’t listen and her daughter can’t wait to get out of the house. She doesn’t realize that her husband, Jim is thinking about leaving his job. He’s a therapist who doesn’t talk at home and is sick of his clients’ complaints.
When Maggie meets a hottie at the gym who showers her with conversation and appreciation, she gives serious thought to what she needs, what she wants, and whether her wedding vows still matter. Yes, you read that right. Maggie is at a crossroads. Michael, the hot gym rat, listens; and though she has friends and family, she doesn’t know where to turn for advice. Her father doesn’t always recognize her, as his health is deteriorating rapidly. Her mother and brother have emotional walls that keep them from connecting. No wonder she relishes spending time with Michael. Who will she choose and what will she discover about love, marriage, the sandwich generation, and what really matters before she makes her decision? This contemporary, suburban drama will resonate with women who’ve ever faced a crossroads and wondered about their purpose.
The narrator’s style is filled with sly humor and sarcasm. Lines like “The mirror was my enemy” and “The first thing I saw when I walked into the gym was grown women standing in groups like high school cliques” make me love Maggie’s attitude. Maybe it’s her inappropriate remarks that prompt her potentially disastrous actions. I like her edginess. It keeps me entertained.
Since I’m well past my forties, I wasn’t sure how much the book would appeal to me until I read “She finds herself pulled in a direction that makes her question the life she’s always known…” I’m still doing that, and I found the depth of her conflicts authentic. Though I believe in fidelity, I empathized with her struggle. Many women need attention that lasts. Men, too. Living with someone is very different than flirting with them, as Maggie discovers. It involves a total commitment to both the good and the bad that life pours on all of us.
Author Leslie A. Rasmussen peppers the story with humor and sarcasm, making her likeable and easy to identify with. Her breezy writing style is entertaining, but there’s real meaning beneath her attitude. If you like women’s fiction, After Happily Ever After is worth your time.