The title alone is enough to boost sales, but ultimately, Pamela Druckerman’s book about adultery across the globe is enough to send you into a deep depression. Not because the book examines infidelity beliefs and patterns all over the world with such depth, thoughtfulness and even humor, but because by the time you get done reading this book, you won’t give much credence to the “happily ever after” fairy tale of romantic love anymore.
Truth is, humans just may not be a monogamous species. The author focuses more here on the various differences and similarities between adulterers rather than focusing on the biological and science-based urges that might underlie such behaviors. Druckerman offers plenty of statistics of infidelity by nation, and a lot of personal stories by those doing the, well, infidelity, as well as a plethora of excuses they come up with for their behavior (the French seem particularly good at this, although they do enjoy their trysts the most).
Intriguingly, the author, a former journalist, offers up food for thought from psychologists and marriage counselors, but sometimes the most honest stuff comes out of the mouths of those doing the cheating themselves. Whether that cheating occurs in Japan, where paying for sex means it ain’t adultery, or from the African nations rampant with adulterous affairs, or from the good old U.S. of A., where morality clashes with reality (the U.S. rates of men and women who say the cheat doesn’t quite jive with reality, maybe?), it all seems to have the same effects: pain, heartbreak, mistrust.
Though some countries seem more adept at this whole affair thing (America not being one of them - too much guilt!), in the end, the author finds that the conflicts of being faithful are what make all of us human, no matter what nation we hail from or what excuses we use to explain away our breaking of marital vows. Perhaps the bigger question the book hints at is, what is to become of marriage? Is it an institution behind the times, fighting against biology? A dinosaur?
Yet still we seek out that one person…which proves that in the end, myth trumps reality hands down. A great read, and an enlightening one.