The Wednesday Group by Sylvia True
I picked up The Wednesday Group by Sylvia True, interested to find a series of characters who were somewhat different and very easy to relate to. The story revolves around a group of women who start attending a support group because they are the wives of sex addicts. So, right off, this is a story about troubled relationships and women who have issues with their self-confidence because of them. But the story doesn't veer into the maudlin - it really tells the stories of these women, who are at times angry, often confused, and still hopeful that things can work out for the better.
It was very easy to get involved in this book and hard to put it down. While I don't know much about sex addiction, one statistic that keeps coming up in the book (although I don't know how accurate it is) is that only one in five people who are married to sex addicts are able to stay married. So out of five women in the group, this doesn't bode well for four of them, which adds extra tension for the reader - Who's going to make it? Who won't? Will they beat the odds?
The writing is straightforward and I would call this a mainstream novel, although there are parts of it that veer into literary style. However, there are one or two small parts that I thought detracted from the whole - they were small enough not to take away my overall enjoyment of the book, although I will mention them here.
First off, one of the women in the group decides in the middle of the novel to move out of the country. This might be fine, except that this seems to be the end of her role in the book. While the other characters might think about her idly afterwards, her presence in the book has little to no impact on the final story or on the other characters. I kept waiting for the other characters to stay in contact with her, perhaps by email, or at least think more about her, but she basically disappears and that's the end of her role. I feel that having an unfinished story line is okay - as long as the reason behind it makes the reader think more about the character/other characters. But just disappearing for no reason - that doesn't make me think about them at all. Instead, it bothered me as a reader.
The same with the ending of the book. While I don't want to give the ending away, the final story line feels somewhat unfinished to me. The book ends too soon. There WAS an ending beyond where the book actually ended, so the fact that the story concluded where it did felt a little off to me. Not everything needs to be wrapped up in a neat little package, but I really wanted more to the story, even if it was inconclusive. It was too abrupt for me, since the characters talk about planning future actions which are not then carried out in the action of the book. So the fact that we see them sitting around talking as the final scene of the book feels very inactive to me and somewhat anticlimactic.
The last problem I had was just something small I noticed, and I probably only noticed because I'm a writer myself. Since there are several different women who are main characters in the story, the chapters are labeled with the women's names when telling their stories - so, for example, the first chapter is labeled, "Lizzy," the second chapter is labeled, "Hannah," etc. The only difference is when all the women get together at the therapist's office, where the chapters are titled by how many sessions they've come together, for example, "Session Four." The only time this varies is the last chapter, where they get together for a session and instead of labeling the chapter "Session #," it is labeled with the name of one of the characters. Probably another reason that I felt that the story was unfinished - I felt that the continuity of the format was broken (most probably intentionally, but it still struck me as off). I would have also liked to have the story begin and end with the same character OR with none of them, but that's just a tiny personal nitpick and 100% my opinion.
I do feel that it is a wonderful debut novel for Ms. True, and I'd definitely recommend this book and read future work by her.
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I read a lot - depending on my writing schedule, I can usually read about a book a day. Some of the books are fantastic and I would love to recommend to everyone - some, not so much. Either way, I thought I would share a few thoughts on what I'm reading at the moment.