Jane Green’s The Other Woman lay on my bookshelf for a long time before I decided to pick it up in parallel with a nonfiction book I was reading. And I think I made a good decision by reading this story of love, family, and compromise.
The first thing that comes to mind when you see this title, The Other Woman is not what the story is about. As against what the title suggests, this is not a story of infidelity. It is about accommodating the people in the life of the love of your life, into your own. That is exactly what got me hooked on to this one.
Ellie Black is a Marketing Manager at a boutique hotel chain called Calden. She is engaged to television producer Dan Cooper. While she is giddy with excitement about Dan’s mum, Linda being involved in the wedding preps, she isn’t too thrilled with the extent of her involvement. What is it about Linda that warms Ellie as well as angers her so much?
The reason why I loved the book is that Ellie, in a lot of ways, is like me, though there are a lot of things that we differ in thanks to cultures and what not. Ellie loves her independence, though she doesn’t mind indulging in company once in a while. She has her bouts of resentment against people – with good reason. And she knows that something isn’t going right at the slightest hint of a problem. Though this last part I am not, because I can, many-a-times, be blissfully oblivious until it is too late and all has gone to shit.
There are layered characters in The Other Woman that I absolutely loved reading the nuances about. We see a lot of Fran and Sally, Ellie’s work friends, but later, she gets thick with her neighbors, Trish and Lisa. Sally is almost invisible most times, but Fran you can see advising Ellie when she needs it the most. Trish is the allowing mother who tends to overindulge her child. Lisa is the hot single mother with a boyfriend (Andy) who doesn’t care for her kid. I’ve only watched a couple of episodes of Parks and Recreation but Andy, reminds me of Andy (Chris Pratt) from the sitcom.
Jane Green, in The Other Woman, writes so well about how much things change for women when they get married – home, identity, everything, while men keep everything they had intact and as it is. Yes, responsibilities do increase on both sides, but emotionally, it is bad for women. Too, too bad. For women are the ones who leave their homes. For women are the ones who are torn away from everything they know. They are the ones who have to adjust to a new life, whereas, for men, everything is as is, except for one more person living in the household. Men get to live with their parents all their lives, while women don’t.
But I digress.
Ellie wants a ‘functional’ family like Dan’s – a mother, a father, and siblings (Emma and Richard), since she never had one. Does she get it or not is the final question. The only question, perhaps. This question exists because at many points in the story, she does seem ungrateful, as she herself puts it.
Ellie is someone who’d think the worst of any situation. She’s not inherently pessimistic, but many-a-times, she jumps to the worst conclusions. She can be so stubbornly stupid, hormonal, and emotional that as the book progressed, her behavior angered me to no end.
Then again, there’s a thing called perspective. What would you do if you were in her place? But this is also applicable to other people in your life, not just you.
Linda Cooper (The Other Woman, as Ellie calls her) does tend to seem overbearing, trying to do everything and trying to wiggle into Ellie’s place and space. Even I got angry at her. [It’s not new, me getting angry at fictional characters.] She tries to make herself the most important person anywhere she goes. Things come to a head when she keeps repeating this and it all falls apart.
Caught between the two most important women in his life is Dan Cooper, husband to Ellie and son to Linda. He refuses to say anything, insisting that they resolve their issues themselves. How it affects relationships in Ellie and Dan’s life together and in their individual lives crops up as the book goes by.
The Other Woman is all about family, believe it or not. There is nothing more irritating than a nagging human being. But it’s all about the perspective we spoke about earlier, about understanding the other person, about understanding that whatever it is, they are, well, human. And it is also about compromise.
Will Ellie accept compromise as a way of life? Will she be able to move past Linda’s behavior and settle in a groove that is beneficial to both? Will Linda be able to do this? Will Linda be able to understand what she is doing wrong? Will Ellie be able to understand what she is doing wrong? Will Dan stand up for Ellie?
The Other Woman is a good answer to all of these questions, something that many women keep asking themselves throughout their married lives. And while I wouldn’t call The Other Woman a masterpiece, I would definitely tell you to read this book at least once to understand a little bit of the human psychology spectrum. Man, there’s a range of it in this book!
Rating: 4/5 stars
Until next time, keep reading and add melodrama to your life! 🙂