The Wednesday Group
St. Martin's Griffin
March 3, 2015
Gail. Hannah. Bridget. Lizzy. Flavia. Each of them has a shameful secret, and each is about to find out that she is not alone… Gail, a prominent Boston judge, keeps receiving letters from her husband’s latest girlfriend, while her husband, a theology professor, claims he’s nine-months sober from sex with grad students. Hannah, a homemaker, catches her husband having sex with a male prostitute in a public restroom. Bridget, a psychiatric nurse at a state hospital, is sure she has a loving, doting spouse, until she learns that he is addicted to chat rooms and match-making websites. Lizzy, a high school teacher, is married to a porn addict, who is withdrawn and uninterested in sex with her. Flavia was working at the Boston Public library when someone brought her an article that stated her husband had been arrested for groping a teenage girl on the subway. He must face court, and Flavia must decide if she wants to stay with him. Finally, Kathryn, the young psychologist running the group, has as much at stake as all of the others.
As the women share never-before-uttered secrets and bond over painful truths, they work on coming to terms with their husbands’ addictions and developing healthy boundaries for themselves. Meanwhile, their outside lives become more and more intertwined, until, finally, a series of events forces each woman to face her own denial, betrayal and uncertain future head-on.
I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley.com.
The Wednesday Group is one of those books I always tell myself I will enjoy– a tale of women who are having intimate personal issues banding together to help one another out and in the process becoming close friends. The idea that these six women would bond over their husband’s sexual addictions makes for an intriguing plot. Unfortunately it fell rather flat for me.
Despite the fact that I pretty much read this novel straight through, simply because I wanted to know what was happening week to week, session to session with each of the characters, I felt the story telling was clinical. The situations in each of their lives were volatile, emotional, sometimes explosive. I felt as if the dialog was muted. Sometimes I would take a break from reading and think, “Man, this book is sad.”
The plot and story arc itself I found to be authentic, realistic if not overly emotional. I felt Hannah’s numb anger and Bridget’s violent fury and Gail’s immense need to keep things calm and in control. I felt the most for Gail… in some ways I hoped for the downfall that would eventually come. She was so smug and all-knowing, had all the answers and the trite advice. In the end, I think she fell the hardest.
If there’s a lesson in this novel, I guess it would be that what doesn’t kill us can make us stronger, but not for a long, long while.