Friday, October 1, 2010

The Actor and the Housewife, by Shannon Hale

It was exciting for me to hear about The Actor and the Housewife, by Shannon Hale—a story about a Mormon housewife, mainly because I had been told repeatedly that national publishers will not publish novels with LDS main characters.

Shannon Hale busted the myth and has laid the groundwork for us all. Thank you!

Although The Actor and the Housewife is a comedy, it’s more than fluff, and it comes with my WARNING: there are several poignant moments. (Meaning you may cry. I did.)

Hale delves quite expertly into LDS family relationships and encourages the reader to question what is truth. Is it okay for married people to have best friends of the opposite sex? Can it even happen without one or the other falling in love with that friend? What kinds of activities are acceptable for this type of friendship without putting the marriage in jeopardy?

We can feel nonreligious Felix’s pain when he attends a ward dinner with the Jack family. We can sympathize with Becky when she’s feeling oh-so-awkward at a cast party. We can understand handsome-movie-star-Felix’s confusion as he becomes increasingly attracted to Becky, a Utah-Mormon-mother-of-four.

There are plenty of times when this friendship works as easy as breathing, but there are numerous times when we as readers worry, worry, worry about the depth of their friendship—Will Becky cross the lines and allow it to turn into something more?

So, how does a sexy-supermodel-wife cope with (or even process) her husband’s growing attraction and emotional connection to a poorly dressed, frumpy Mormon mother—especially when this actor refuses to have children of his own? The answer is sometimes quite graciously and other times not so well at all.

And, how does even the most secure husband deal with his wife becoming LIVER (Love-like Intensity Via Emotional Rapport) to a sexy-heartthrob movie star? The answer to that is also: sometimes quite graciously, and other times not so well at all. After time, he accepts his wife’s friendship but this is only because of his ironclad belief in his wife’s ultimate fidelity.

Becky’s meeting Felix (the actor that she’s drooled over for several years) is purely coincidence, as is their second and third meeting—and due to the fact that they’re both staying at the same hotel. Although he’s wary of meeting anyone (apparently he’s tired of all the adoring fans, and would like a little privacy), Becky is quick-witted and keeps up with his banter, never once fawning over his celebrity.

So, although she’s big with child, he’s intrigued. Becky becomes his link to reality. She keeps him grounded and loves to poke fun at his looks, stardom, accent—you name it. This is something that his sexy-supermodel-wife couldn’t do for him or even understand. Becky fills a void in his life.

The void that Felix fills for Becky is that of her high school chum, Augie. She missed the free flowing banter they had—until Felix. He is able to draw Becky away from all things mundane and makes her feel special in a way that neither her husband nor her children can.

This is a book full of serendipity and what-ifs, and Hale takes us on an amazing roller coaster ride while answering each question with sensitivity and wit. Although the book would be rated PG at most, the subject matter: will two LIVER’s keep their friendship without becoming lovers, might make some readers nervous.

As for me? I’m going to find her other books at the library and read them all. I’ve included a link to her blog so that if you’d like, you can see her cute new twins. Congrats Shannon Hale on their safe arrival!


Margaret said...

thanks for sharing Tina.
This gives hope for a lot of us LDS writers out there.

Tina Scott, the writing artist said...

I know. I almost did a dance when I found out.

Jackee said...

I love Shannon Hale's books. She has a way of capturing characters (especially in this one) that I don't know if I can ever hope to emulate. This book made me laugh AND cry. Some times at the same moment. :o) I agree that it's awesome to see a LDS book going mainstream.

It's great to "meet" you, Tina. :o)

Jennifer Griffith said...

Great review, Tina. I like your take on this book. I have really liked all the Shannon Hale books I've gotten my hands on. Enjoy!

Tina Scott, the writing artist said...

Jackee, I agree, I loved her characterization. I read the book twice because I loved her voice. I plan to read another one as soon as I get done with a critique and some work.