Friday, July 20, 2012

The After Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer (Review)

Genre:Adult, Drama, Romance, Comedy, Chick Lit
Publication.Date  July 10th 2012
Published By:  Ballantine Books | 
WebsiteGigi Levangie Grazer 

The After Wife - Goodreads
My review copy:An e-ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

Gigi Levangie Grazer, the New York Times bestselling author of The Starter Wife, returns with a hilarious and spirited tale of love—both lost and found.

L.A. is no place for widows. This is what forty-four-year-old Hannah Bernal quickly discovers after the tragic death of her handsome and loving husband, John. Misery and red-rimmed eyes are little tolerated in the land of the beautiful. But life stumbles on: Hannah’s sweet three-year-old daughter, Ellie, needs to be dropped off at her overpriced preschool, while Hannah herself must get back to work in order to pay the bills on “Casa Sugar,” the charming Spanish-styled bungalow they call home.

Fortunately, Hannah has her “Grief Team” for emotional support: earth mother and fanatical animal lover Chloe, who finds a potential blog post in every moment; aspiring actress Aimee, who has her cosmetic surgeon on speed dial; and Jay, Hannah’s TV producing partner, who has a penchant for Mr. Wrong. But after a series of mishaps and bizarre occurrences, one of which finds Hannah in a posh Santa Monica jail cell, her friends start to fear for her sanity. To make matters worse, John left their financial affairs in a disastrous state. And when Hannah is dramatically fired from her latest producing gig, she finds herself in danger of losing her house, her daughter, and her mind.

One night, standing in her backyard under a majestic avocado tree, in the throes of grief, Hannah breaks down and asks, “Why?” The answer that comes back—Why not?—begins an astounding journey of discovery and transformation that leads Hannah to her own truly extraordinary life after death. (Goodreads)

"Before I was widowed," I say, "I was born. Then I had boobs. Then I had relationships. My relationships were all in L.A., a magical place where the men have less body hair than the women. Then, I fell in love. Then I was pregnant. Then I was married. I do things backward, it's my way."
I pulled the veil over my face. I understood why widows wore veils. Grief changes a face. You're unrecognizable, even to yourself. Your facial geography is redrawn, as though gravity has struck, suddenly and indelibly. 
“I love you, Hannah Banana,” he said, his eyes wide, as though making a discovery. I knew exactly what he was thinking. I thought the same thing. “How did I wind up here? How did I wind up with this person who makes me so happy? How did I get this beautiful life? This beautiful daughter?” And I would add: “How am I the best fed woman on the planet?” Sometimes, I thought, just sometimes . . . good things happen to good people, or at least people who don’t engage in road rage.

     The After Wife is a chick lit novel, and an exceptional one at that. While I didn't exactly step out of my comfort zone to read it, I also can't say that women's fiction is a genre that I delve into on regular basis. I decided to pick it up based on some great Goodreads reviews, and was absolutely amazed at just how much I ended up loving it. This book was fantastic. I laughed, I cried a bit, I got really attached to the great lead character and her three-year-old daughter, and I came out of reading it with a curious mix of sadness, hopefulness, and satisfaction. It's a heartfelt and poignant story of death, grief, healing power of friendship and the parenting challenges faced by widows. Meaningful and moving, but also very funny and uplifting, it's not only a prefect summer read, but a story that can be enjoyed any time, anywhere and by anyone. 

     The story line centres around forty-four-year-old Hannah Bernal and her three-year-old daughter, Ellie. Hannah wakes up one day to a phone call from Santa Monica Hospital. The caller, Dr. Rogan, informs her that her husband, John, was in a car accident, and he died in the ambulance on his way to the hospital. Hannah's world crumbles to pieces. First there's shock and denial, then an overwhelming wave of grief, and, finally, the realization that she is now all on her own. She now has to take on a role of both mother and father, and learn how to do things that John was responsible for until now. She's heartbroken and lonely, and there's nothing - not even the "grief team" formed by her three best friends - that could ever fill the void left by her husband's death. And like that's not enough to deal with, she then learns that John failed to keep their finances in order, leaving her with a huge debt. When she's fired from her latest production gig, she finds herself one step away from loosing everything: her lovely Spanish-style bungalow, her daughter, and herself. 

     I really enjoyed reading this book. It's an insightful, touching and thoroughly captivating read. The lightness and humour with which Gigi Levangie Grazer approaches the difficult subject of death of a family member is rare and impressive. Her characters (especially Hannah) are very sympathetic, likeable and funny, giving the novel a lot of charm. I was a little bit afraid that the novel will turn out to be really serious, dark, and depressing (considering the heavy subject matter), but thankfully, it was nothing of the sort. There are, of course, many scenes in this book that will tug at your heart, many passages that will invoke some powerful emotions - but that's only to be expected, it is, after all, a book about a woman learning how to live her life after her husband's death. But the overall atmosphere is a rather positive one. Sure, Hannah finds herself in a very sad and difficult place, she's facing many obstacles, and, at times, she feels scared, lost and overwhelmed, but at the same time she's exceptionally brave, strong and optimistic. You won't see her withdrawing from life, crying herself to sleep, nor letting grief take over her whole existence (at least not very often, you won't). You'll see her struggle. You'll see her fight. You'll see her coming out of this experience even stronger and braver than she already was. And that's remarkable, considering she herself did not realize just how strong and brave she was to begin with. To me, the way she handled things - with grace and humour - was very inspirational, and I admired her as a person. 

     Grazer's prose is rich, luminous, and deeply personal, it allows you to completely lose yourself in the plot. Her writing is sexy, honest, and convincing, and while some people might not appreciate her humorous approach to the story, I really loved all the jokes and hilarious situations. I also loved the vibrant narrative voice. It was snarky, edgy, and totally wonderful. It's Hannah's colorful and energetic personality that kept the novel perfectly balanced - not too dramatic, and not too funny. 

     Overall, The After Wife is an extremely clever, heart-warming and uplifting read. It's a balm for the soul, as it shows you that no matter how difficult a situation you find yourself in, your life doesn't end unless you decide so. Surviving the loss of a family member might be the hardest thing you'll ever do, but it can be done. Even the deepest wounds heal with time, and, as long as you give yourself time and allow yourself to hope, you can - and will - get through it. I think that's a fantastic message - powerful and oh-so-true. A message to remember.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Anonymous said...

This looks like such a sweet book! And I love the cover! I'm always on the lookout for some new and fresh Chick Lit. It's one of my favourite genres.

Great review!

Amy said...

I don't tend to read books like this, but it sounds like it is very well written and a wonderful story!! Thanks for the awesome review!

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I love the sound of the book, and the fact that you enjoy it and you don't delve into this genre often definitely gives me hope for this book. I definitely need to check it out. Beautiful review :)

Tiffany Mahaffy said...

I love your review Evie. I probably would normally pick this one up because of the cover but normally put it down because of the description not catching me. However your review made this book sound so much better than the description and I will seriously consider it now:) Thanks.

Kelly said...

I love a book that makes you cry and I love it more when it shows the character being strong. It sounds very sweet and touching. Thanks for the review!

kimbacaffeinate said...

wonderful review, this sounds like a touching book. I love when a book brings out your emotions like this one did. Your review makes me want to get lost in the plot too!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...