Title: I Give My Marriage a Year
Author: Holly Wainwright
Published: August 25th 2020
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
Lou and Josh have been together for 14 years. They share two kids, a mortgage, careers and plenty of history. Now, after a particularly fraught Christmas, Lou is ready to ask herself: is this marriage worth hanging on to?
Every month for a year, Lou sets a different test for their relationship – from daily sex to brutal honesty – to help her decide if she should stay or go. Secrets are exposed, old wounds reopened and a true-to-life suburban love story unfolds.
I Give My Marriage a Year paints a sharply accurate, often hilarious picture of a modern Australian marriage. Lou and Josh are a couple on the edge, and their efforts to bring their relationship back from the brink will resonate with anyone who has ever asked themselves: is this enough?
Whose side will you take? Who deserves a second chance? And will Josh and Lou stay together or split for good?
‘I decided in January, Josh’, she called up to him, ‘that this is the year of make or break.’
‘Make or break?’ He pushed the goggles back on his head with one hand, the other still clutching the saw.
‘Us’, Lou said, her face turned up to him. ‘One year to decide if we should stay together or not.’
I Give My Marriage a Year is a realistic, honest and considered look at a marriage in crisis. From the author of the bestselling novel The Mummy Bloggers, Holly Wainwright offers a balanced and thoughtful presentation of both partner’s views in regards to the possible demise of a long standing relationship. A book that holds universal appeal, I think I Give My Marriage a Year will strike a chord with all readers, no matter their marital status.
Holly Wainwright carefully considers all options in a marriage on the verge of ultimate collapse in her new novel. We meet Josh and Lou, a couple who have shared fourteen years of marriage together, weathering the good times and the bad. But lately Lou has been feeling like she can no longer continue living in an unhappy marriage. Lou must ultimately decide if it is worth continuing on with her marriage to Josh, or end it once and for all. So Lou gives her marriage an expiry date of one year. During this year Lou sets some goals and challenges to complete to help put her marriage back on track. From counselling and separation time, Lou is willing to try these different activities to help stimulate her downward spiraling marriage. But Josh isn’t always receptive to these adjustments and with some past secrets bubbling to the surface, it seems that this marriage may not be able to be saved. Holly Wainwright takes a no holds back approach to the ins and outs of this marriage, delivering moments of semblance, humour and realism. The question is – will this couple find a way to salvage their marriage, or is it high time that is ended?
Sometimes books surprise you. This was the case with I Give My Marriage a Year. I went into Holly Wainwright’s new novel with the opinion that it was going to be a much like her debut, The Mummy Bloggers. I will say I enjoyed Wainwright’s debut, but I didn’t absolutely love it. I have to admit that I shelved Give My Marriage a Year as a traditional chick lit style novel, which is a genre I have battled to like of late. Thankfully, Holly Wainwright’s third novel proved its worth, I really connected with this novel from start to finish.
I Give My Marriage a Year begins and ends with the starring married couple of this new tale, Josh and Lou. I did find I grappled with the character of Lou. Even though I shared many things in common with Lou, I ultimately struggled to like her. I also disagreed with Lou’s suspect choices and her treatment of Josh. In fact, even though Wainwright alternates the points of view in this book evenly between Josh and Lou, I found it was Josh that I aligned with. This is not to say that Josh is perfect, but he was quietly flawed and I was able to sympathise with him above Lou. I actually felt sorry for Josh in many sequences of the novel and I wondered if ultimately he was ill-suited to Lou and better off moving on, rather than letting Lou call all the shots! Although it is clear that I didn’t warm to Lou, I loved Wainwright’s presentation of these characters. They appeared to be deeply authentic and the characters reminded me of family members, friends and general acquaintances. This could also be observed in Wainwright’s support cast, the highlight being the children of Lou and Josh, along with Lou’s enigmatic friend Gretchen, who all bring something to the overall proceedings of the novel. They were valuable additions to this life literature tale.
I think I connected to I Give My Marriage a Year due to the age, marriage length and life situation of the protagonists, who all seemed to mirror my own circumstances in some way. I could completely connect to the parenting issues, financial concerns, career issues, hobbies, interests, emotions, intimacy levels and temptations that arise throughout the progression of this marriage. What I also liked about I Give My Marriage a Year was the focus Wainwright gave to the past history of this marriage. We see the initial beginnings and spark of love that ignites between Josh and Lou. We witness their relationship flourish into marriage, children and then take a fall. Using a blend of insight, raw honesty, wit and realism, the reader follows this emotional journey of private pain, revelations, ire, sadness, affection and hope as this couple move to a final decision. Wainwright chooses to suspend the decision of the marriage expiry date until the bitter end of the novel, so do stick around as it is well worth it!
I Give My Marriage a Year is a thought provoking contemporary domestic fiction title. A modern tale with broad appeal, Holly Wainwright’s third novel should not be missed!
I Give My Marriage a Year by Holly Wainwright was published on 25th August 2020 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of I Give My Marriage a Year, Holly Wainwright, visit here.
*Thanks extended to Pan Macmillan for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
I Give My Marriage a Year is book #108 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge