Saturday, July 11, 2009

Books I've read this week - As Long as He Needs Me

As Long as He Needs Me by Mary Verdick

From the book cover:They thought they were getting a vacation. Their marriage might not survive it.

In honor of their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, Kitty and Clem Johanssen set off on what’s supposed to be a dream vacation; a gracious cruise up the East Coast from New York to Montreal. But in a hectic rush to embark, Clem foolishly loses his cash to a couple of street swindlers. Unbeknownst to Kitty, the incidence sets off a profound introspection of Clem’s weaknesses, regrets, and mortality – amplified by the sudden appearance of his old war buddy-turned politician, T. McCollough Boyle, during a shore excursion. As Clem grows more distant throughout the trip, Kitty falls in with an attractive – and mysterious – Englishman named Toby Knight, who offers everything Clem doesn’t: grace, charm and hopefulness. Now, the slowly smoldering confrontations of the last three decades – the deep-seated resentments, half-buried insecurities and burning passions – will surface in a confrontation so powerful it will test the limits of the couple’s love.

At once unsettling and compassionate, As Long as He Needs Me is a psychological novel of faith, memory, love, and the unyielding supremacy of time.”

The story is told from Kitty’s perspective and current things make her remember past events that help explain the story. It’s a wonder the marriage lasted through 35 years with all the couple had to face. The author certainly included enough family problems – separation because of war, the question of abortion, drug use, homosexuality, adultery, death of a child, finding out about parents’ infidelity, etc. I was beginning to wonder, “What’s next?”

As I read this book this afternoon, I decided I didn’t like Kitty or Clem Johanssen very much. Clem is weak and likes to blame others for the things he did wrong and the things he didn’t achieve in his life. Kitty tries to run her children’s lives just like her mother did, and when things don’t go well in her relationship with her husband, she’s too quick to turn to others. That isn't to say it wasn't a good story, and the book was probably more true-to-life than a lot of others I’ve read. Having had relationship problems of my own in the past, maybe it hit too close to home. If I had to rate the book on a scale of 1 to 5, I’d give it a 4.

No comments: