Wednesday, 6 March 2013
Vow by Wendy Plump
I was very interested to read this book as I'm still early on in my own marriage. My husband and I have been together for almost ten years (this September!) but have only been married for just under two. We're lucky to have a strong, trusting and supportive relationship but I know from those around me how quickly that can be destroyed when trust is gone. Adultery is very common, but it's one of those taboo subjects that no one seems to talk about. So I was attracted to a book about it, to read an honest portrayal of what it is like from both sides of the fence.
And Vow certainly was honest. Plump writes with honesty even when she is in the wrong, even when it might turn the reader against her. Her first affair comes to light by her confession to her husband and Plump writes in detail about this scene. After describing his total shock and rage, she complains about his anger as that made her feel bad. It's hard to feel sympathy with her at this point but that's one of the strengths of this memoir; it's not sugar coated. In fact, my feelings towards Plump remained ambiguous throughout. It was clear to me that their relationship was lacking even before the affairs started and I did feel very sorry for her in the sections dealing with her response to her husband fathering another child and installing the 'other woman' in a house of her own, but at the same time I was frustrated by her inability to think of the consequences, to chase adrenaline but then not want to face up to the aftermath. But I guess marital breakdown is like that - there are no easy answers.
Another strength of Vow was the surprisingly good writing. I was expecting honesty from the book, but I wasn't expecting writing this good. The whole text flows and Plump manages to tell her story non-chronologically in a way that isn't confusing at all. At times the writing veers on the poetic with some poignant descriptions of emotions. I particularly liked her husband nailed to the spot by "the blade of truth" and the following;
"driving home from that meeting, I felt as if someone had switched on a set of beaters in my stomach and blended my organs all to hell."
Vow isn't a book to read if you want answers to the question of extra-marital affairs. The only advice Plump offers is to appreciate the beauty in the everyday comfort rather than allowing your relationship to become stuck and boring. It's a highly personal case study, but it did make me think about my own marriage and reflect on the way we choose to live our lives. I'd definitely recommend it, but don't expect any easy answers.
Source: From the publisher, via Netgalley
Score: 4 out of 5