TROUBLE by Kate Christensen

Book Quote:

“Just then, I caught a reflection of a woman in the tilted gilt-edged mirror across the room. She was dressed similarly to me, so I tilted my head to get a better look at her. As I did so, the woman tilted her head to match the movement of mine. I raised my wineglass; she raised hers along with me.

It was then, in that instant, that I knew my marriage was over.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (SEP 5, 2009)

Josie is in trouble, much more trouble than she’d ever imagined. She’s in the kind of trouble that eats you up from the inside out, not the kind where you worry about being harmed by outsiders. She is also feeling a sense of sexual freedom and wanting to explore these feelings. This book is best read in a cool place with the air conditioning on – no tight bodices and no long sleeves!

Early in the book she is attending a party, flirting with a stanger, when she looks in a mirror and has an epiphany – – she is going to divorce her husband. She realizes that her marriage of about twenty years is unsatisfying and that she has been sublimating herself the whole time. She remembers the good times she’s had with her husband and realizes that even those were not so great. “We had been good drinking buddies, my husband and I. I remembered sitting hunkered down in a bar years ago, our heads close together, talking and drinking and smoking. Of course, he had done the lion’s share of all three, but I had tried to keep up”.  She worries about her teenaged daughter, Wendy, and the effect that a divorce will have on her. She and Wendy have not been getting along and Josie thinks that Wendy will choose to live with Anthony which will be a huge loss for Josie.

Josie is a psychotherapist in the Chelsea District of Manhattan. She has an upscale practice with educated and insightful clientele. When the book opens, tomorrow is the last day of her practice before she takes her annual two week vacation. She is looking forward to it. She plans to tell her husband and Wendy that she wants a divorce, then find an apartment and move out. She manages to tell Anthony she wants a divorce and they both act oh, so civilized, not a loud voice to be heard. Josie feels “nothing but relief and a slight sadness at the end of my marriage, the emotional equivalent of getting a rotten tooth pulled”.   As she searches for apartments, she is interrupted by a phone call from her closest friend Raquel, a famous rock singer, who is in Mexico City. She wants Josie to come and stay with her, to spend the next two weeks in Mexico City helping her deal with her stresses.

Josie goes to Mexico to be with Raquel who is very emotionally fragile. Raquel has a history of heroin addiction and once came close to dying from an overdose. She’s been in rehab multiple times but has been clean for the past ten years. Despite being in recovery now, her recovery is fragile. Raquel feels like a has-been even though she is putting out a new recording. It is strange to see the two of them drinking and carousing as they do. It would seem that  Josie, a psychotherapist, would be more aware of the dangers of relapse when her friend is drinking so much, but this is not the case. Together they party and spend time with the artists and literati of Mexico City. Josie meets a man who she finds so sexually exciting that she can barely contain herself.

It is here in Mexico City that the real story begins. Josie realizes how much she has repressed herself in her marriage and needs to escape its confines. She comes to the realization that “Anthony had been a seemingly irresistible force I had passively allowed to carry me off; I hadn’t had to think about anything. I had been young, naive, and overwhelmed by the power of his personality. I had subsumed myself in him”.   We also see that she is torn between taking care of Raquel and meeting her own needs. She is intensely drawn to a younger man for whom she feels a huge sexual attraction. She tries to meet her own needs and also care for Raquel but falls short on managing both.

The novel is told from Josie’s first person viewpoint. It catches the reader right from the start. We watch Josie’s “tectonic psyche . . . shifting and heaving” along with huge changes in her outer landscape. She has a lot to do, to learn, and to experience as she moves on in her life. Nothing is going to stop her as she tries to help her friend while also trying to understand what went wrong in her marriage. At the same time, she unfetters herself, shaking off the sexual repression that has governed her life for too long.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-0from 63 readers
PUBLISHER: Doubleday (June 16, 2009)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Kate Christensen
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
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September 5, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Literary, Mexico, Reading Guide, y Award Winning Author

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