To Have and to Hold
Jane Green
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To Have and to Hold
Jane Green
352 pages
March 2005
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Alice Chambers lives the life dreams are made of — designer clothes, blonde highlights, exclusive London parties, beautifully decorated home, and a handsome, successful husband. And most of the time she’s happy. However, before Alice married Joe Chambers, she was a mousy young woman who delighted in a gradually successful catering business; a woman who enjoyed digging in the dirt, loved animals, and dreamed of a rose-covered cottage with children someday in the future. When Joe comes back into her life, a guy she'd had a crush on as a teenager, Alice is flattered that he’s interested in her and willingly changes and conforms to whatever Joe wants. Now there are days when Alice doesn’t even know who she really is anymore.

After several years of marriage, Joe still doesn’t want children, and Alice wonders if Joe’s late nights in the office might really be a cover-up for an affair, especially when he brings home beautiful gifts for no apparent reason. But then Joe is so charming and wonderful when he is home that she forgets all about her suspicions until the next time Joe is late. Joe, for the most part, is pretty discreet, but when an ambitious, sexy business colleague turns his head, Joe’s affair gets out of hand when someone sees them in the sexual act in the office conference room. Joe is given an ultimatum: transfer to New York City very quickly.

Alice is very upset that Joe is being transferred; she doesn’t want to leave London and can’t understand why he can’t get out of the transfer and stay where they are. But Joe promises her a house in the country when they get to America, and Alice blindly follows as always. Alice does find an old fixer-upper in the country of Highfield, Connecticut. She loves it there and doesn’t want a new house like Joe wants to build; she loves transforming the original cottage. But Joe loves the city life in Manhattan and only comes to Highfield on the weekends. Alice and Joe grow farther and farther apart as Alice slowly realizes what she really wants from her life. She does want a man in her life; someone unlike Joe — someone more like her best friend’s boyfriend, someone warm and funny who loves animals and gardening, as she does.

Jane Green writes terrific chick-lit novels. Her books are usually peopled with delicious characters and riotous situations. And I did enjoyTo Have and To Hold, but not with the same intensity that I did some of her others like Bookends and Jemima J. For most of the book, I kept thinking that Alice was one stupid broad not to pick up on Joe’s indiscretions and to live her life exactly the way Joe wanted her to, but the story did get better when she moved to the country and began to come alive again. At the end, felt like she really did have the perfect life.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Vivian Outen, 2004

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