Monday, May 4, 2009

Book Review: Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies


One of the books featured last week on The Today Show segment Spring into a Good Book was the memoir, Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies. I will be honest and admit that this book was not one that I originally had planned on reading. It's not that I didn't think the topic was interesting. It's that in the past several years memoirs have become far too prevalent, in my opinion. When memoirs first became the genre du jour, I read a bunch of them. And mostly, I liked them. But, soon it felt as though everyone was writing their life story and frankly I started to feel a bit bored by the genre. Anyway, a week or so ago, I was contacted by Katrina, a publicist with Wiredset, who asked me to review this book. What?! Me! Really? Well, as you can imagine, I was deeply flattered and since I had Katrina's assurance that I could be honest in my review of the book, I agreed. Oh, and did I mention that Katrina has also generously offered to do a giveaway of Happens Every Day to two lucky readers of Pam's Perspective. Please see sidebar for information on how to enter the giveaway.

Happens Every Day is a quick, easy and engrossing read. I was so involved in Isabel Gillies' memoir that I finished the book in two sittings. Happens Every Day, tells the heartbreaking story of the dissolution of Isabel's marriage to her husband, Josiah. A marriage that Isabel was deeply committed to and which she had no inkling was in trouble. In fact, she thought she had a wonderful life. When her seemingly perfect marriage and life crumbles around her within the space of 4 short months, Isabel is understandably confused, angry and desperate. Who wouldn't be? But, what is so surprising about this book is that Happens Every Day never degenerates into a diatribe of vitriol and bitterness against her husband or the circumstances of their divorce. As a matter of fact, Isabel is surprisingly candid about her own shortcomings and the deep love she feels for her husband. She takes a very conversational, almost confessional tone, throughout the book. At many points in the book I felt as though I was reading an especially poignant letter or email from a friend. I felt Isabel's bewilderment, confusion and desperation to save her marriage. Isabel does an amazing job of connecting with her readers and I couldn't help but put myself in her shoes. Surprisingly, Happens Every Day is not a depressing story. Gillies has managed to write a story of love and loss, but also one of moving forward and hope for the future. As the title of the books states .... Happens Every Day.

20 comments:

Anita said...

What I enjoy about books is that you sometimes never know what you will get with an unfamiliar author or in this case a memoir, which I will agree with you, I go up and down on liking them. I'm often amazed at a person's ability to open up and tell about themselves.
You know me............always excited for the chance to win a new book!!!

Sandy said...

I've been disappointed by memoirs in the recent past because of their obvious embellishment of the facts. Didn't we use to call this genre autobiographies? I did, anyway, and I have always loved bios & autobios. I remember reading a series of them in 6th/7th grades. I attended a tiny church school that had a library about the size of my bedroom closet. I wish I knew what that series was! Over the course of a year, I read every one....I remember Clara Barton & Stephen Crane to just name two. And as a young adult I went on to read every Hollywood bio that came out....talk about embellishment?! Anyway, add my name to your giveaway. (I CAN enter, can't I?)

Pam said...

Anita - The funny this is I usually like the memoirs I read, I'm just annoyed that everyone thinks they should write one. I guess I'm just a curmudgeon(sp?). I know, book giveaways are the best!

Sandy - Good point! Autobiography vs memoir. Maybe you have to be famous to call it an autobiography? How knows. Yes, anyone can enter. I'll be using a random number generator to determine the winners so all's fair in family and giveaways!

Terra said...

I have read very few memoirs - But I have enjoyed the ones I read - I have to say you have painted a beautiful picture of this book and I found myself thinking - wow I guess I should read this one!

Thanks for the review!!!

Kathy B! said...

This sounds like such a lovely book. And I relly enjoyed your review. It was very honest and sincere. If I don't win your giveaway I think I might buy it for myself for Mother's Day :)

Anonymous said...

Well Pam once again you write a wonderful review. I am very intrigued by this book. The story which could be very depressing sounds almost uplifting. It is amazing that no matter what life throws at us with the right attitude almost any situation could be turned around. I will put this book on my list of must reads.

Colleen

Pam said...

Colleen - I'm sure your "must read" list is even longer than mine!

Pam said...

Kathy - Thanks for your compliment! I'm so flattered.

Ronnica said...

Sounds interesting. I enjoy a good memoir, but you have to limit the diet of them for some of the reasons you've mentioned!

Tammy Howard said...

This sounds great, Pam! And I sure do love something quick yet relevant for a poolside read! Mark me as entered!!!

C said...

Okay, between your blog and Angie's blog, my "To Read" list is getting insanely long! This sounds really interesting and I have to say I'm pretty impressed that the author was able to put all of the difficult things in her life out there on paper, in black and white, for all the world to see. It must have been very cathartic!

Gail said...

Pam -- it sounds like an interesting book. I'm amazed that you have the time to read as much as you do along with working plus watching TV...when do you fit it all in!

Gail

Pam said...

Gail - I'm not really sure how I do it either. It helps that I only work part time. And, of course, I can sometimes (not often) read at work. Also, I'm a fast reader and I carry a book with me EVERYWHERE, so I get a lot of reading in while waiting - for appointments, for the kids to come out of school, etc. Sometimes it IS hard to watch all my favorite TV shows. I have decided not to add any more shows to my repetoire, because I just don't have enough time. But, I can't give up on the ones I'm already into. I'm just too hooked! And, my kids are older and much more independent now! You forgot to mention blogging! That is my current obsession and it takes A LOT of my time! But, I'm loving it!

Mary at My New 30 said...

I don't have any favorites as far as books - I love reading all genres. My reading list is always insanely LONG. I often have stacks of books and many going at the same time, but since starting my blog, well, the reading has gone the wayside.

I was thinking about reading this book after it was on the Today Show list, but after this recommendation it is on my list of books to read!

I would love to win this, so please count me in for the giveaway and maybe I'll get lucky.

And congrats on getting the offer too - how exciting that must've been! That would've made my day right there all on its own!!

Crystal said...

This book sounds very interesting. I love books that capture my attention and won't let me put them down until I have read the last page. I also like books that have authentic characters, thoughts and conversations. Sometimes, it all sounds to made up or forced. I like to think this could be me or someone I might know. DOes that make sense? Please enter me in your giveaway : ) Thanks for the reviews, I love them~

Pam said...

Ronnica - I definitely think it's possible to OD on memoirs.

Tammy - this would be a great poolside read. It's quick and not something you have to concentrate too carefully on.

C - I though the same thing about putting it all out there. I wonder how her ex-husband feels about the book.

Mary - My list is insanely long as well. And blogging has definitely taken a bite out of my reading time. And thanks for your Congrats. I was stunned and flattered when she contacted me.

Crystal - You are absolutely right. I couldn't help but think that this could happen to me. It made me more appreciative of my husband.

Lucky Wife/Bookaholic said...

oh, I like the sound of that... I am making a library run tomorrow...
I am just so bored with everything I am reading... I could gag if I read another james Patterson, I am bored with Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum series... (Four to score was the best and she's on 16...) I devoured Patricia Cornwell and the Scarpetta series, Left behind, anything Francine Rivers (I do like her ALOT) but ugh... I need a good non-series positive book. Wow, sorry that was a little lengthy.
I thought I'd mention, that my names "lucky" and may 9th is my birthday... wink wink...

Pam said...

Lucky Bookaholic - I completely understand getting into a "book rut". Sometimes it's good to step out of our comfort zone. The perfect antidote to "book series burnout" is a dose of good contemporary, literary women's fiction. I've sent you an email with a couple of recommendations and a link to my "work" blog, which has a "Read Any Good Books Lately?" widget with a list of books I highly recommend. Good Luck! I hope you find something to get you out of this rut. And, who knows, you might just find a whole new genre you enjoy!

Gamma Sharon said...

Your review is well written... you make me want to read it. I hope I am one of the winners.

Shelley said...

Sounds like a very interesting read.

 

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