The Intermission by Elyssa Friedland – Book Review

Title: The Intermission (review copy)

Author: Elyssa Friedland

Genre/Themes: Contemporary Drama, Marriage, Love, Alternating Perspectives, Secrets, Desire to have Children

Blurb from Goodreads

After six years of marriage, the unshakeable confidence Cass felt on her wedding day is decidedly gone. Jonathan, on the other hand, is still smitten with Cass. It’s true that the personality quirks he once found charming in his wife–her complexity, her high standards, her refusal to clean the dishes–are beginning to grate. But for him, these are minor challenges in an otherwise healthy relationship. So it comes as a complete shock to Jonathan when Cass suddenly requests a marital ‘intermission’: a six-month separation during which they’ll figure out if the comfortable life they’ve built together is, in fact, the one they both want. 

After Cass and Jonathan devise an absurd and jet lag-inducing plan to swap custody of their beloved dog every thirty days, they decide that (aside from their monthly canine exchange) the intermission will be a time for self-reflection–and not a time for talking. But, as the months pass, Cass and Jonathan begin to see that the very worst of their problems are rooted in just these kinds of calculated silences–and in a delicate web of blistering secrets they may never be ready to share

My Review

The Intermission‘ was a fantastic page turning read that I gobbled up over the course of one hot, languid day. It’s an utterly compelling read that throws back the curtains on the details of a marriage that from the outside looks perfect. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of the wife Cas and her husband Jonathan and this format really helps to get the reader inside the heads of these characters and to unmask all the secrets that they have been hiding from each other.

After a few short years into their marriage Cas and Jonathan have decided the time is right to try for a baby. They both seemingly love each other and are happy…

But there are little things. Tiny things that grate on each other. Personality clashes, lifestyle clashes, family clashes….

No one thing that truly seems like a deal breaker but all of a sudden Cas decides that she and Jonathan need to be completely sure of thei compatibility and love for each other before they bring a child into their relationship and so she requests an ‘intermission’. This is a six month separation period during which they have to figure out if their marriage and life together is really everything they want.

As the old adage goes there really are two sides to every story and the dual perspective in this novel really exploited that to perfection.

Both Cas and Jonathan were such interesting characters to read about. Neither character was without fault or blame for the problems in their marriage so as I was reading I kept flip-flopping from which character I believed more. From who was on the side of right…

And really, neither character was ever right.

They, at times, each were utterly hateful and selfish, and at others so secretive and disingenuous, and this made the book feel all the more realistic. No character was put on a pedestal by the author. Instead she gave us well-rounded and thoroughly believable characters that felt completely human in their fallibility. These characters made tonnes of both mistakes and choices that were nothing short of questionable.

At times I didn’t like either of them and didn’t see how I could root for them to find happiness either together or separately… But then this made the story all the more compelling. Because it showed how really, as humans, we all try to hide these parts of ourselves that we don’t like even from the people we are the closest to, the ones we love the most.

The supporting cast of characters provided a backdrop to the main events of the novel and really helped to paint the picture of how your friends and family can really impact your attitudes to marriage and your honesty with your spouse.

This was an immensely enjoyable, fast-paced read with a lot of bite as it really gives the reader a lot to think about when it comes to marriage due to its incisive dissection of this most vaulted of human relationships. Definitely one of the must read books of the summer.

Highly recommended

I was invited to read an e-copy of this book by the publisher, Berkley, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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