Love in Mid Air, by Kim Wright.
There's nothing worse, he says, than to be halfway up the face of a mountain, past the turnback point, and all of a sudden to realize you can't count on the other person. I ask him what the turnback point is and he says there's a place you get to in every climb where it's as dangerous to retreat as it is to advance. I nod. It seems I should have known this. - from Love in Mid Air, page 5 -
Elyse Bearden has been married for nine years. She has a wonderful seven year old daughter, Tory, and her life is rich with friendship -- especially that of Kelly, her best friend from high school -- and creativity (she is a potter). But Elyse is unhappy. After nine years, she believes she has married the wrong man -- a good man, but one who doesn't "see" her, one who minimizes who she is and is content if things are just "nice." Then one day, flying home from a business trip, she finds herself sitting next to Gerry, a mountain climber who is also married. What unfurls from that fated connection is an affair which not only takes Elyse by surprise, but has consequences for everyone in her life.
Kim Wright's novel is smart women's fiction. This is no light weight read and Wright does not swerve away from the difficult questions about fidelity (or lack of it), marriage, parenting, and the inevitable consequences of stepping to the edge of our lives and taking a leap of faith. What Wright does in Love in Mid Air that separates it from other women's fiction, is delve deeper into the psyche of women and ask the questions many women are afraid to ask themselves: Is it okay to want something more? Are our dreams made of fluff, or should we give them wings to fly? Can a woman truly be whole without the weight of a wedding ring on her finger or a man by her side? Are we brave enough to leave behind what we know in order to discover something bigger?
Wright's sense of irony shines through her prose and rescues the novel from being too heavy. The friendship between Kelly and Elyse is captured perfectly, underscoring the honesty, humor and love that can develop between women. As Elyse begins to give voice to her unhappiness there is a sense that she must break apart the trappings of her life to uncover the beauty of who she really is ... and Wright captures this rebirth though the symbolism of Elyse's work as a potter.
It turns out there are many ways to break things. You can do it fast, with a single, wrenching snap, or carefully, with a hammer and chisel in hand. You can do it wildly, like a pinata, or methodically, like tapping an egg against the side of the bowl. Or -- and this turns out to be the most effective way of all -- you can just hold the pot over your head and drop it. Throughout the winter and into the spring I watch as the pieces fly across my concrete floor. - from Love in Mid Air, page 250 -
I read this book almost nonstop. I was hooked from the first page. Wright's prose is captivating, sexy, funny, heartbreaking, and full of insight and truth. She has a finely tuned sense of character development, making her characters real by showing us their flaws, but also their strengths. This novel works on every level. Love in Mid Air is highly recommended for readers who love smart, humorous women's fiction, and for readers who like strong women characters.
Four and a half stars out of five.
Catch all of Wendy Robard's reviews in her fabulous blog, "Caribousmom".
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