Thursday, May 17, 2018

Book Review: The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner


Pages: 334
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown 
Other Books By Author:  The Forever Summer
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "When a young widow's reclusive life in a charming beach town is interrupted by a surprise visitor, she is forced to reckon with dark secrets about her family, her late husband, and the past she tried to leave behind.  Lauren Adelman and her high school sweetheart, Rory Kincaid, are a golden couple. They marry just out of college as Rory, a star hockey player, earns a spot in the NHL. Their future could not look brighter when Rory shocks everyone-Lauren most of all-by enlisting in the U.S. Army. When Rory dies in combat, Lauren is left devastated, alone, and under unbearable public scrutiny.   Seeking peace and solitude, Lauren retreats to her family's old beach house on the Jersey Shore. But this summer she's forced to share the house with her overbearing mother and competitive sister. Worse, a stranger making a documentary about Rory tracks her down and persuades her to give him just an hour of her time.  One hour with filmmaker Matt Brio turns into a summer of revelations, surprises, and upheaval. As the days grow shorter and her grief changes shape, Lauren begins to understand the past-and to welcome the future."

Lauren Kincaid married her high school sweetheart who is an up and coming hockey star.  After dating all through high school and college, they decide to make it official and get married. At this point, Rory, her significant other, is playing professional hockey, but after a few rough hits and some benching he is wondering if there is anything more out there for him than hockey super stardom.  Meanwhile, Lauren is pursing her dreams of being a journalist, but it's hard to do this when she is following Rory around and sometimes she takes jobs that are less than stellar.  To complicate matters further, Rory has confided in Lauren that he wants to enlist and serve his country.  Obviously, this terrifies Lauren as this is not the future she envisioned for herself and her hockey star husband.  When Rory is killed in action while serving in Iraq, Lauren's world is turned upside down not to mention all the media coverage has her freaked out since Rory's was a professional athlete.  She retreats to her parents' shore house at the Jersey Shore and pretty much goes off the grid.  After years of hiding out at the shore, she comes to find out that a filmmaker would like to do a documentary on Rory and despite Lauren's insistence that she doesn't want to work with him, he keeps showing up just about everywhere and has even interviewed her sister and others.  Matt thinks there is more to Rory's story than just a hockey star turned army hero and deep down Lauren knows there are many secrets, some that she isn't willing to tell. Or is she? Jamie Brenner's The Husband Hour is a delightful beach read that not only has the amazing setting of the Jersey Shore, but it also examines grief, family secrets, and essentially the idea of picking yourself up after tragedy and moving on.

Lauren is the kind of character you immediately feel for in The Husband Hour. She has been through a lot and has sort of folded into herself using the backdrop of the Jersey Shore to hide out even further.  I mean the shore in the winter is pretty much deserted, which is exactly what she wants.  Her hermit status falls to the wayside when her parents and her sister decide to spend the summer at the shore house.  What will become of her plans to be isolated with just her memories, her running routes, and her waitressing job?  Also, the arrival of Matt, the filmmaker, also complicates things, especially when he starts digging and doesn't take no for an answer.  

Slowly Brenner shares with readers flashbacks to Lauren and Rory's life as high school students as well as experiences throughout their relationship.  I simultaneously fell in love with their relationship as well as despised it as it evolved slowly into something complicated.  I think Brenner does a good job showing how things aren't always as they seem and relationships, although they appear to be perfect, sometimes aren't.  As we scratch the surface of who Rory actually is, readers can piece together a major issue just waiting to bubble over.   It's sort of heartbreaking actually.

I truly adored the setting of the Jersey Shore in The Husband Hour. You guys know that I have been going to the shore my whole life and I loved Brenner's depictions of Ventnor, Margate, and other shore landmarks.  She truly brought to life a Jersey Shore town and I wanted to hide out with Lauren as well, running on the boardwalks in the early morning with only the sounds of her footsteps, seagulls, and the crashing waves. I loved it!  Also, her flashbacks to Lauren's childhood in Lower Merion also tugged on my heartstrings as I grew up not far from there and was able to recognize many landmarks. Local readers will love this!

I also liked Brenner's portrayal of a family staying together at a shore house all summer long in The Husband Hour. Her parents also had issues they were dealing with along with her super complicated sister and her sister's son. It definitely kept me entertained!

If you like your beach reads filled with family drama and secrets that slowly rise to the surface, throw Jamie Brenner's novel, The Husband Hour, in your beach bag this summer.


5 comments:

  1. I LOVE that this story takes place at the Jersey shore, which is where I spent a lot of my childhood summers at my grandparent's house. I want to know more about Lauren and Rory's relationship, too.

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    1. Then you'll love this book! Brenner captured small town/shore life perfectly. I hope you get to read it soon. Thanks for visiting!

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  2. what i'd like to know is whether Rory gets a chance to fall in love again? is there something with the man who wants to do a documentary about her deceased husband?

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    1. Yes! I hope you can check it out- a great beach read for sure, Joy! Thanks for visiting!

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  3. I love Brenner's writing style, and her books are always satisfying, touch on modern issues, and offer a lovely beach backdrop. She tackles CTE with aplomb, never pedantic or preachy, shedding important light on this often misunderstood and increasingly alarming epidemic.

    Zia
    Corporate Event DJ

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I really appreciate your comments. Thank you!

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