Publication Date: 9/17/13
Source: Received from publisher for review
Rating: 5 stars
From the author of the New York Times bestseller On the Island.
What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else?
Chris and Claire Canton’s marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he’s offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire’s concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can’t weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.
Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. He pulls Claire over during a routine traffic stop, and they run into each other again at the 4th of July parade. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they’re spending hours together.
Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room. Daniel knows that Claire’s marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn’t take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she’ll never cross.
"Maybe love is like a pendulum. It swings back and forth, slowly, steadily, and sometimes you don't know where it will come to rest."
Marriage is hard. Anyone who has ever been married will tell you that (if not, they're lying). It's a commitment that must be continually tended to and nurtured. In the best of times it is fun and easy. In the worst of times it is exhausting and infuriating. But scariest of all is when you just stop. Every marriage has its cycles of ups-and-downs. Children, health crises, money and jobs can wear you down. Moments will catch you by surprise when you look at that person and you wonder how in the world you ever thought it was a good idea to get married. And at others, you look at them and you fall in love again. So why does it seem like I'm writing an essay about marriage? I feel like to truly understand how much Covet impacted me, you have to know just how hard it is. How scary it is to look at the person you love, and slowly see them slipping away.
In Covet, Tracey Garvis-Graves has brilliantly portrayed the upheaval of a marriage, and the lives of Claire and Chris Canton. When Chris is laid off from his job, and then is unable to find another for months, his over-achieving nature takes a huge hit. As the months go on, depression hits, causing him to become both emotionally and physically withdrawn from Claire. At first understanding, Claire eventually becomes almost immune to Chris's indifference. Not because she uncaring, but because it is the only way she will remain intact. When she meets and gradually becomes friends with officer Daniel Rush, Claire begins to toe the fine line that keeps her from an affair. In Daniel, she finds a companion, another lonely soul who needs the anchor of another person. And though a physical affair is something Claire never intends to let happen, an emotional affair is born.
I need to be very, very clear about one thing: there are no "bad guys" in Covet. When you look at the issues as black and white, yes, what Claire is doing is wrong. But when you take all of the nuances of her marriage and relationships with Chris and Daniel into consideration, there is a lot of grey area. I'm not saying that this is right, I am saying that sometimes, you do what you have to do in order to survive. That everyone deserves a deep emotional connection to another person.
It would have been so easy for Garvis-Graves to have simply portrayed Chris as a bad husband. Using flashbacks, we learn how Chris and Claire fell in love, just how amazing he was to her and how happy they were. With the multiple points-of-view, we get to see just how desperate and upset Chris is about his situation. That he does love Claire and their kids, but is so lost in providing for them, that he loses his way. In Claire's perspective, we see how much she's always loved Chris and wants her husband back, but also how his seeming indifference slowly pushes her away. That she doesn't want to actually have an affair with Daniel, but she is attracted to him, is drawn to his personality, and just how good he makes her feel. In Daniel's perspective, we find a man who lost so much from a tragedy. We see a man who is not a predator, does not want to break up a family, but who finds himself so drawn to Claire that he doesn't want to stay away from her. In any other circumstances, these three might have never found themselves in such a precarious situation, but this is a perfect emotional storm.
I know this review might come across as too personally involved, but honestly, I could see no other way to do it. If I remained truly objective, I don't think I could have gotten my point across about just how remarkable I think Covet is. And even if you cannot identify with the characters in Covet, or their situation, the story is still not to be missed because Tracey Garvis-Graves is one of the most gifted authors I've had the privilege to read. Her writing was so, so subtle, yet incredibly powerful. Little moments in which she hit upon a raw truth or emotion took my breath away. Covet took me on such an emotional journey, and I will say that it left me sobbing, happy, and also with a thought: marriage is not a destination, but a journey.
In all the years we'd been together, I'd never experienced anything quite as heartbreaking as watching the lights of my golden boy fade. ~ARC, pg 72
"I'm sorry, honey. You have to hold tight to the things you love." I stand up and look toward the sky, but the balloon is a red speck I can barely make out.
And at that moment I can't help but wonder if Chris realizes just how untethered I've become.
~ARC, pg 105
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