I love the title of this book. As an unmarried person, a title like The Husbands and Wives Club evokes a great deal of curiosity – would it be full of discussions about broken dinner dates and dirty laundry that I had no desire to read about? Simultaneously, the usually subdued part of me that wants to watch The Hills was hoping for a bit more drama. Of course, considering that Laurie spent over a year with the people in this group, it’s not surprising that what fills these pages doesn’t fit either of those categories. Rather, the often shocking honesty with which Laurie writes and quotes reached a part of me that was beyond boredom or fleeting entertainment – I started to care about these couples and to struggle with the issues that were hurting their marriages.
Laurie recounts the experience of sitting in on these sessions so well that it is easy to forget that you’re reading a work of non-fiction. Whether it is her experience as a writer, or as an editor, Laurie has refined her ability to describe a person’s essence in the most subtle way, making you feel as though you’re sitting across from them, watching them fidget or ache to be touched. However, her finesse doesn’t end with the description of individuals. As is appropriate for an exploration of group therapy, she has woven a history and explanation of the psychological process throughout her text. The sometimes dismissive and more often ruffling statements made by the therapist, Judith Coché, are strategic in the best way possible, moving her patients forward while helping them work through the past, creating an energy that is made palpable through Laurie’s words.
Though I started reading this book out of curiosity, I ended it with a new appreciation of the human capacity to hope and to change… and what more could I ask?