Monday, July 11, 2011

Releasing Gillian's Wolves (Tara Woolpy)

Overall: 4.5
  • Plot: 4.3/5
  • Originality: 5/5
  • Language:4.5/5
  • Believability: 4.3/5
Releasing Gillian's Wolves by Tara Woolpy

The wife of an adulterous politician must choose. Why has she stayed? What would finally make her go?

Thirty years ago Gillian married Jack Sach, now a United States Congressman. Through the years she’s remained faithful. He hasn’t. Ever. She cooks to soothe herself and others, takes care of her mother-in-law, gardens, sneaks off to the studio to explode with angry paintings and tries to keep Jack’s dalliances secret, even from their two grown children. As she nears fifty, her friends think she should leave but she lingers, bound by inertia and fear of the effect media coverage of a divorce would have on her family.

Gillian shares a trust fund with Edward, her gay neighbor and best friend. Their grandfathers made a fortune together and left it to the two of them. Over the years, in support of Gillian’s marriage, the trust bankrolled Jack’s many successful campaigns. Not particularly interested in politics, Gillian survives by ignoring everything outside her kitchen, garden and studio. Edward has his own ragged past filled with bad relationships, drugs and alcohol. Through the course of a summer, Gillian’s marriage continues to deteriorate while Edward’s life finally starts to improve. He’s sober, stable and has found life-changing love with Sam, a Biology professor at the local university. Their happiness shines a stark light on Gillian’s loveless marriage. Finally, when Gillian meets Jack’s latest conquest, twenty-year-old Ashley, she’s forced to confront the rot at the core of her relationship. Is it too late for happiness?
Genre: Women's Fiction
Purchase Links:
Paperback US | UK | DE
Kindle and Nook versions to be released later this month
Other Links:
author website

Whereas many works of women's fiction center around main characters in their twenties or thirties, Releasing Gillian's Wolves focuses on a quinquagenarian with a green thumb, artistic talent, and closet full of "Congressman's Wife" clothing. For decades, she's dealt with her philandering husband's bad behavior by painting in her studio, working in her garden, and taking care of friends and family, including the mother-in-law whom her husband routinely neglects. Jack's newest paramour, a twenty-something intern, proves to be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel's back. After thirty years of marriage, she finally makes a stand for herself.

Unlike many tales of adultery, this one involves little in the way of broken furniture and nasty shouting matches. Instead, Gillian calmly states her terms and walks away in an admirable show of strength. We follow her along her path to healing, an international journey that includes a healed rift with an estranged daughter and a holiday in the Netherlands that is saturated in art. Releasing Gillian's Wolves is not so much about intrigue as it is about life and second chances at creating a full one.

The storyline is, in a word, comfortable in terms of pacing and ambiance. The salacious events surrounding Jack are treated more as prop or catalysts than focal points, and while that approach suits a tale of personal growth and healing, I would have liked to have had a few more details. Even so, there is more than enough material to keep one entertained. Intimate descriptions of various food items whet the appetite, while refreshingly deep conversations stimulate the mind. Each section actually starts off with a recipe related to that part of the story, including a brownie recipe I am now eager to try.

Releasing Gillian's Wolves is a book I'd recommend to anyone who needs renewed faith towards the women's fiction genre. It isn't light and fluffy, nor is it petulant and melodramatic; it is thoughtful, accessible, and above all, real.

(Review copy provided by the author)


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