When the fairy tale fades

2008-11-05 00:00

JOHANNESBURG attorney Gail Schimmel has produced a fairly lightweight but still very readable first novel in Marriage Vows (it’s not her first book — that was written for children and published under the name Gail van Onselen).

Although the main character, Jordi Gordon, is strictly speaking too old for Marriage Vows to be chick lit, it still fits the genre pretty well, focusing as it does on this

successful businesswoman, her friends, and their loves, lives and marriages.

It’s Jordi’s 55th birthday and she’s angry and upset. The anger is because her “perfect” husband Hal has given her a food processor as a present and she hates practical gifts. The fact that her adult children, who have come to have breakfast with her, are squabbling like adolescents doesn’t help. And she’s upset because she’s received an SMS from the man she once considered leaving Hal for.

As the day winds its way through a visit to her senile mother and lunch with an old friend towards the dinner she and Hal are hosting that night, she finds time to reflect on the choices she has made. Hers seems on the surface to be a fairy-tale marriage but it has not been without its tough times. Schimmel deals deftly with the challenges that face modern couples — business travel, depression (in one instance caused by a divorce, in another by a terminated pregnancy) and the demands of family.

Infidelity is a strong theme with various of Jordi’s friends and relatives falling to temptation. The

consequences of these dalliances are significant and Jordi is proud that when she was faced with the almost overwhelming desire to be unfaithful to Hal, she was able to resist.

However, as she remembers the past, the reader is given hints here and there that Hal may not be as perfect as Jordi would like to think he is. And when she overhears some whispered gossip at her

dinner party that night, it’s time for the truth to come out.

Diana Procter

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