The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

NOTE: I have been focusing on novels this summer because I want to get back to my own novel-in-the-works. I picked out this book at random from our condo library to find that it takes place in our “neighborhood” and also down the shore where many people from Philadelphia go, in and around Atlantic City. The book was even more enjoyable because of the bonus of reading about areas I am familiar with.

This is my first book to read by Jamie Brenner, taken from our condo library shelf at random. We meet the main character, Lauren, who is a very young widow (early twenties) following the death of her young husband, a well-revered athlete who decides to join the armed services and is subsequently killed.

Jamie has “sequestered” herself in the family’s summer home in Longport, NJ (near Atlantic City) working as a waitress, forgoing here desire to be a journalist, and keeping a very low profile. When her husband’s life is to be made into a film, produced by a young man who has been investigating the relationship between head injuries from sports and subsequent medical and mental problems (PTSD), Laurie begins to react strongly.

She has been working for four years, keeping a very low profile, because she does not want to be interviewed or involved in the life she had with her husband before he went into the service. As one of the characters notes, Lauren seems “frozen.” The making of the film and the young producer slowly affect Lauren’s state of mind and she begins to deal with the issues surrounding her complicated, short marriage.

This is not a typical “beach novel” that many of us read during their vacations. Instead, it tackles a very real medical problem that I found fascinating because of its ramifications. The author has done an excellent job of creating characters that become involved with the movie to be made, especially Lauren’s sister, who is raising a young child as a single mom and never tells anyone who the father is. As the story unfolds, the child unexpectedly becomes a key character in the book

The emotions run high in this book, and the medical topic is a real one, so be prepared for some heavy interaction among the main characters. Because I really liked the author’s plot and her way of writing, I went online to find  other books this woman has penned. I plan to read more of Jamie Brennen.

The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner is published by and costs $26.00 for the hardcover.

P.S. Here is the mini-synopsis on the flyleaf that might grab you more to read this book (direct quote):

When a young widow’s reclusive life in a charming beach town is interrupted by a surprise visitor, she is forced to reckon with dark secrets about her family, her late husband, and the past she tried to leave behind.

Valentine’s Day: My Personal Essay

My Note: A quote by Rosa Parks from Inspiring Quotes (online) seems appropriate with my essay, since fear of failure has been a large part of my healing after divorce. I featured Rosa Parks a few days ago as part of Black History Month.

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.
— Rosa Parks

This is a photo of a 634 heart-shaped puzzle I am building, a gift from my daughter Eileen. Here is a quote from Seltzer, the manufacturer, a “woman-led company that values creativity, curiosity, and laughter. We make products that are all about expression, connection, and making some human time in our modern lives.”
( P.S. Their puzzles are made from recycled cardboard. Yay!

During my 13 single years between 1990 (separation from my first husband) and 2003 (meeting Alan, my second husband), I rarely had someone special to share Valentine’s Day with, so I changed my mindset about this day and started celebrating it as love for family and friends, not just a sweetheart. In fact, last year I sent Valentine’s Day cards to many friends and family members. This year I just mailed postcards that I found with photos of Georgia O’Keefe’s flowers (gift from my older daughter, like the puzzle) with a short message.

As Elinor Lipman’s character Margo notes in The View from Penthouse B , “Love comes in many temperatures.” I agree. My love/relationship for/with my second husband Alan is a completely different “temperature” from my first husband. We are on a more equal basis, making even small decisions together. And I feel loved. And my love for my children is another degree of love, and still another degree for friends and extended family.

For me, Valentine’s Day is now a perfect opportunity to connect with all loved ones: by phone, email, snail mail, and if we are lucky, in person. It’s also a good day to love Mother Earth for all her bounties and make a commitment to tread more lightly on the planet, every day.

Finally, being in the Creative Writing group at our senior center (virtually) has added another level of love to my life: sharing my love of writing with others who also love to write. This is a different “degree” of love and I appreciate being able to share my stories and hearing other stories. (Actually, this essay is from last week’s prompt.)

To wit, we can still express love in the time of COVID, because love (at any temperature) never goes out of style!


P.S. Here is a poem (one of many) I wrote after meeting my second husband Alan when I was 65 and moving to Philadelphia. (Love is more comfortable the second time around at any age!) I chose this rhyme because you all know my love for food, since this website started out with a focus on healthful, vegetarian recipes.

Menu f♥r Love

Loving Alan lets me be who I am,

Like whole wheat toast with naturally sweet jam.

Being with Alan allows me to be just me,

Like yogurt with berries and herb-laced tea.

When I am with him I can snack and munch,

Enjoying a salad and croutons for lunch.

Living with Alan makes me feel like a winner,

Like tofu with stir fries “wokked” up for dinner.

Being together helps erase all the hurt.

He’s breakfast, lunch, & dinner & especially dessert!

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