I found Second Honeymoon an enjoyable and thought provoking read.
The focus is on a woman whose youngest child has finally left home. Edie has defined herself as a mother for so long that she has no desire to be anything else. Her husband, Russell, has his vision of how life will be now, and is eager for her to conform to his view.
Edie half-heartedly auditions for a role in a production of an Ibsen play, and (to her great surprise) gets the part. Just as she is rediscovering the actress in herself, who she had put in the backseat for many years, her children return home. As much as she’s wished for this, the experience isn’t what she expected.
Each child had their own story. I was particularly interested in Matthew, the oldest. In many ways, he is the opposite of the rest of his family– neat where they are messy, organized where they are scattered, ambitious where they are laid back. He’s got a successful girlfriend that is ready to move up in the world, and is going at a pace he can’t keep up with. He’s having a very hard time dealing with this.
Ben and Rosa are both much earlier in the process of finding out who they are and what they should be doing with themselves. Rosa is fairly newly out of an intense relationship that left her significantly in debt. Ben is moving in with his girlfriend, who isn’t quite ready to leave her mother.
These characters and more are what made the book work. They had interesting stories. They were each flawed while still being sympathetic. I was interested in where they ended up, even while recognizing the mistakes they made in getting there.
To me, the book reflected the importance of control over ones own life. The characters making their own choices about how they were living had a much easier time coping than those at the mercy of circumstances.
Edie did not choose her empty nest and is miserable. After they return, she is briefly happy until she realizes that having grown children around is not the same, and begins to take control of her life. Mathew and Ben both choose to use their childhood home as a place to regroup and move forward, while Rosa only returns home when she has no other options. Russell celebrates the arrival of the next phase of his and Edie’s life together with very specific ideas as to how it will look, and is also unhappy when events don’t play our as he envisions.
Even though I’m at a different point in my life than Edie is in hers, I could still identify. I’ve been extremely involved in my daughter’s life, and now that she’s in middle school, I need to start to step back and find another identity to add to the one that has dominated the last 11 years– mother.
We all liked the book, and enjoyed talking about it. We all are mothers, and appreciated the warning that Edie’s character gave us. Out opinions of the other storylines varied, with some spirited discussion on the Matthew and Ruth thread. Several members expressed interest in reading other books by this author.
Our membership has recently jumped after being stable for a long time, and I think I’m going to have to play a more active role as moderator, at least for a while, since we kept breaking off into different conversations. Anyone have any tips for me?