“ Print Length: 282 pages / Publisher: Headline / Published: 2 Aug 2012 „
NOTE - this book is actually called 'Wife Living Dangerously' and not just 'Dangerously'. Some kind of mix up in the database, I think.
~Birds do it, bees do it - even educated fleas probably cheat on their spouses~
The slippery slope of deceit and bad behaviour is a steep one and one on which it's hard to turn back once you've started. For almost as long as there's been the concept of marriage, there's been the 'dark side' of adultery standing in the background waiting to tempt the unwary. Plenty of writers and film makers have been peeping through their net curtains to put it at the heart of their novels. There's nothing new in cheating on your spouse.
In Julia's case the descent into behaving badly starts gently with small acts of active resistance. First she's mixing her glass bottles in with the plastics in the recycling bin. Next she's illegally down-loading music off the internet and not telling cashiers who make a mistake in her favour. Of course there's nowhere else it could possibly end up than in the arms and bed of a professor of medieval literature. It's inevitable really - and that's not a plot spoiler because in the second paragraph of this book, our 'heroine' has already revealed her affair so there's no 'will they, won't they' to look forward to, just another 273 pages of 'why' and 'how' and 'who gives a damn?'
~ What's so boring about BEING a bit boring?~
Julia is a perfect example of suburban wife and mother who seems to have it all what ever that might mean. She's got a successful husband with a good income, three beautiful children and a pleasant home and even an interesting and fulfilling job working at an institute that studies sexual behaviour. She's also got a great circle of friends. So why should she feel that something is missing from her life?
When she and her friends get together and over-indulge in alcohol they have a ritual that they perform. They light their 'Candle of Truth' and challenge one another to reveal dirty secrets. Julia can't come up with anything naughtier than telling them she put on lip-gloss when she knew the parcel delivery man with the pony tail and the 'great ass' was due to arrive at her house. She wasn't trying to seduce him; she just wanted to look nice. Her friends can't contain their derision. Placing her hand on a Bible she's told to take an oath that she will "live dangerously" and so she sets out to do just that.
Which of course raises questions in the minds of the reader: 'What's wrong with being just a little bit dull? What's wrong with being a decent, honest, clean-living human being? And what's so aspirational about cheating on your husband?
~Sax or Sex?~
Julia's husband is having his own mid-life crisis. He's joined a band and is playing his sax with a bunch of old friends, out every weekend at gigs in bars and clubs, reliving a youth he never had the chance to enjoy because he was studying so hard to become a lawyer. Now that's a midlife crisis I can relate to. Rushing off to shag a good looking history professor who believes in the medieval concept of courtly love just doesn't make sense to me. I know we're supposed to side with the heroine in a book like this but I just wanted to slap her and say "Can't you see how stupid you are being?" Affairs based on overwhelming and irresistible lust make some kind of sense, those based on spite or neglect in the marriage are also understandable, but doing it with the intention of being more interesting must be the stupidest reason known to woman-kind for putting your marriage and family in jeopardy.
~Chick Miss not Chick Hit~
You'll have guessed no doubt by this point that I'm not a fan of chick lit in general, and even more opposed to tomes about middle-class mid-life angst. The world is full of topics worth writing about - starving children, battered wives, homeless people living on the streets - and when lined up against those, the silly pathetic affair of a woman old enough and smart enough to know better adds very little to the sum of human entertainment or endeavour. I have nothing against a good book about an affair - the bookshops of the nation are filled with many fulfilling and inventive tales of love, lust and longing and the conflict they create but most are much more worthy of your reading pennies than this superficial nonsense. There's absolutely no examination of the pros and cons of getting yourself into such a mess, no sense of thought about the possible consequences, just a jolly 'Here we go' and she's off and running. I think we're supposed to see this as a bit of a comedy but it's just not funny at all.
There may be many women who'll pick up this book and think 'My life could be more exciting too' - I can only hope they'll take up paragliding or Chinese lessons instead of chasing down the first available handsome semi-stranger for some furtive fumbling. To be extra safe, make sure the paragliding instructor is female. The 'love interest' in this one is too good to be true and so one-dimensional that he adds no depth or breadth to the issues raised. There's no need for me to go into too much detail so I'll keep this brief - this is a nasty little book that doesn't deserve your attention.
Wife Living Dangerously