Last night was the premiere of AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE, a sitcom about a “plus-sized” woman living in the land of Stepford Wives. Can she survive with her dignity, and family, intact? The premise sounds cute and the reviews have been mostly positive but what is really drawing me into the show is the writer, Sarah Dunn. I’m familiar with Sarah Dunn’s work, having read and loved THE BIG LOVE, Dunn’s novel from a few years ago. When I looked into Dunn’s writing career, I continued to be impressed. Sarah Dunn has worked as a senior writer for Murphy Brown and the executive story editor for Spin City. She was a co-producer for Veronica’s Closet before leaving TV to write her first novel, The Big Love, which has been translated into 23 languages. This spring her latest novel will be hitting the shelves, THE ARRANGEMENT.
A hilarious and emotionally charged novel about a couple who embark on an open marriage-what could possibly go wrong?
Lucy and Owen, ambitious, thoroughly-therapized New Yorkers, have taken the plunge, trading in their crazy life in a cramped apartment for Beekman, a bucolic Hudson Valley exurb. They’ve got a two hundred year-old house, an autistic son obsessed with the Titanic, and 17 chickens, at last count. It’s the kind of paradise where stay-at-home moms team up to cook the school’s “hot lunch,” dads grill grass-fed burgers, and, as Lucy observes, “chopping kale has become a certain kind of American housewife’s version of chopping wood.”
When friends at a wine-soaked dinner party reveal they’ve made their marriage open, sensible Lucy balks. There’s a part of her, though-the part that worries she’s become too comfortable being invisible-that’s intrigued. Why not try a short marital experiment? Six months, clear ground rules, zero questions asked. When an affair with a man in the city begins to seem more enticing than the happily-ever-after she’s known for the past nine years, Lucy must decide what truly makes her happy-“real life,” or the “experiment?”
It looks like Dunn might be onto a trend in literature. Another title, NEXT YEAR, FOR SURE by Zoey Leigh Peterson, explores the same concept as THE ARRANGEMENT – open marriages.
In this moving and enormously entertaining debut novel, longtime romantic partners Kathryn and Chris experiment with an open relationship and reconsider everything they thought they knew about love.After nine years together, Kathryn and Chris have the sort of relationship most would envy. They speak in the shorthand they have invented, complete one another’s sentences, and help each other through every daily and existential dilemma. When Chris tells Kathryn about his feelings for Emily, a vivacious young woman he sees often at the Laundromat, Kathryn encourages her boyfriend to pursue this other woman—certain that her bond with Chris is strong enough to weather a little side dalliance.
As Kathryn and Chris stumble into polyamory, Next Year, For Sure tracks the tumultuous, revelatory, and often very funny year that follows. When Chris’s romance with Emily grows beyond what anyone anticipated, both Chris and Kathryn are invited into Emily’s communal home, where Kathryn will discover new romantic possibilities of her own. In the confusions, passions, and upheavals of their new lives, both Kathryn and Chris will be forced to reconsider their past and what they thought they knew about love.
Offering a luminous portrait of a relationship from two perspectives, Zoey L. Paterson has written an empathic, beautiful, and tremendously honest novel about a great love pushed to the edge. Deeply poignant and hugely entertaining, Next Year, For Sure shows us what lies at the mysterious heart of relationships, and what true openness and transformation require.
Apparently this is a trend in all forms of entertainment and because entertainment is typically a commentary on our society at large, it seems to be trending there as well. The actress Mo’Nique came forward earlier this year that she and her husband had an “open marriage.” There is also a dating site for open marriages called, openminded.com and the actress Shirley MacLaine reportedly said that open marriages was, “the only way to go.” So let’s see how these titles add to the ongoing controversial conversation. When literature can spark a debate that is always a very good sign.