Title: Love in Mid Air
Author: Kim Wright
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: March 29, 2010
Hardcover: 320 pages
A chance encounter with a stranger on an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin. Suddenly Elyse is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the community. She finds herself cutting through all the instincts that say “no” and instead lets “yes” happen. As Elyse embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage, and freedom.
Love In Mid Air is a novel, which looks into the world of marriage, one woman’s in particular, who realises she no longer cares about her marriage. While Kim Wright wrote a splendid novel, it simply made me sad to think there are women living lives such as the woman in this novel. Kim Wright’s character development is well done and one can easily imagine listening to Elyse, Belinda, Nancy, or Lynn and yet I related to none of her characters. I continued reading, hoping something would connect with me, after all; I am a woman, I have children and I have been with my husband for 20 years and yet nothing clicked, for which I am grateful.
The novel is about an almost 40-year-old Elyse, her husband Phil, and their 7-year old daughter, Tory and while on the surface, they appear to have it all with Elyse having a sound network of friends, her daughter well adjusted, and her husband a successful dentist, on a trip back from a show, Elyse sits next to Gerry, an investment banker, who is also married and has 3 children. Between their respective connecting flights they share passionate kisses and he gives her his business card. Elyse thinks of him often and eventually gets the nerve up to ring him. Since the accidental meeting of Gerry, Elyse realises her marriage is dying and again asks Phil to go to marriage counseling. They finally agree to go to counseling with Pastor Jeff, who happens to not only be their pastor and Gerry’s best friend but also Elyse’s friends’ husband. The reader views Elyse’s life through her eyes. She is clearly not happy in her marriage, admits her husband is a wonderful father, yet she believes she needs more than what she has. She walks daily with her friends Kelly, Belinda, Nancy, and Lynn, each with their own sets of problems. At one point in the novel Elyse decides to meet up with Gerry in New York claiming to be going to see her friend Debbie. The author writes, “Debbie is my escape chute-every married woman has one.” This was the moment that sealed the deal that I definitely could not relate to these women, especially not Elyse. Maybe I am naïve, blessed or blessedly naïve, but I simply could not understand these women. However, there usually is a however with me, Love In Mid Air is wonderfully written and the ending is beautifully done. I would like to think that everyone has a friend such as Kelly and while I personally could not relate well with this novel, it is beautifully written, with descriptive prose, raw emotion and realistic characters. Love In Mid Air would make an excellent choice for a book discussion group.
Kim Wright has been writing about travel, food, and wine for more than twenty years for many magazines including Wine Spectator, Self, Travel & Leisure, and Vogue, and has twice won the Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing. She is the food and wine editor for Charlotte Taste. She has written the annual Fodor’s Walt Disney World with Kids for 18 years and also writes erotica. This is her first novel. Kim lives in Charlotte, NC.
Directly from the author:
When people ask me if my novel is autobiographical I never know quite what to say. Love in Mid Air is based on my journals and yet Elyse, my main character, isn’t me.
I like to explain it this way – When I got divorced twelve years ago, two weird things happened. First of all, women started spontaneously telling me their bad marriage stories, even women who I thought were perfectly happy. If you get divorced in a small town, you’ve screwed up in a very public way. All of a sudden you become the person it’s okay to confess to and women were practically flagging me down in the supermarket, leaning over my cart and saying “You know, things aren’t that great at home….” I became the repository of a hundred women’s secrets, and the notes I kept from that period became the basis ofLove in Mid Air. The stories were altered, of course, a loose amalgamation of what was happening to me and my friends. For so long I had thought it was just me who was unhappy but now I was being shown the whole spectrum, the oceanic quality of female discontent. I walked around for a year saying ‘Wow, isn’t anybody happily married?”
The other thing I realized is that there were very few books that dealt with the subject of divorce in a realistic manner. Most of the books were about men leaving women, even thought it’s more statistically likely for a woman to initiate divorce, especially after the age of 40. And there was often some sort of quick fix – the deserted woman ended up falling in love with her attorney or some hunky handyman who showed up to help at her new house. I resented this whole idea that divorce is about swapping one man for another – ideally as fast as possible – with little exploration of the affect a woman’s divorce has on her friends and the whole social web. I knew that needed to make it into the story as well.
I received a complimentary copy of Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright from Hachette as part of the tour. Receiving a free copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.