Isabel Fonseca
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Buy *Attachment* by Isabel Fonseca online

Isabel Fonseca
320 pages
April 2008
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Life is messy. On the island of St. Jacques in the Indian Ocean, it appears that Jean Hubbard and husband, Mark, are enjoying an idyllic existence. Their years of marriage have settled into comfortable routine, Jean writing health columns that she forwards to her contracted venues, Mark a successful ad executive reaping the benefits of his marketable creativity, returning to their London home base for frequent fine-tunings of his ad campaigns.

Their daughter, Victoria, holds the fort in Camden, England, happily pursuing the world at large and a new romance with her somewhat pompous boyfriend, Vikram. The haphazard domesticity of Jeanís life fits her like an old pair of shoes, island life perfectly suited to a forty-five-year-old woman with few demands. Jean is blissfully unaware until the day she opens a letter in their forwarded London post from a young woman who has obviously been carrying on an affair with Mark.

Unable to process this startling information and what it portends for her family, Jean indulges in a series of emails with Giovana, masquerading as Mark. Suddenly the paradigm has shifted, questions about Markís behavior arising as she views her marriage through a different perspective.

Once the subtle seed of doubt is planted, Jean obsesses over the details of her years with Mark, the unremarkable flaws in the relationship long since subsumed by habit. Writing to Giovana as Mark, a saboteur is released in Jeanís psyche, her suspicion and confusion leading to a twisted logic that ignores its own false assumptions.

Returning to London for medical tests that further ratchet up her anxiety, Jeanís imagination is a hotbed of fantasies; her doubts about Mark leave a trail of breadcrumbs directly to Jeanís unique self-doubts and her choices over the years. When her ageing father has a medical emergency, Jean is catapulted into unfamiliar territory, her worry exacerbating an already overactive imagination, impulsively acting out in revenge against Markís implied deceptions.

Contrasted to the lush immediacy of island life, a respite from any confrontation with reality that might include better communication between husband and wife, Jean tumbles into a morass of confused feelings, revenge-inspired actions and the painful truth of her fatherís physical deterioration.

Spinning words like colorful bouquets from St. Jacquesí exotic landscape to the rain-drenched London streets to New York, Jeanís pretensions unravel as she pursues truth but finds rationalization, the facts all the more uncomfortable because of her self-indulgences.

Although her fumbling through unexpected transitions is sympathetic, this woman in direct conflict with her own life choices might be more compelling if she approached life open-handed, without the potential parachute of a man to shore up her crumbling confidence. Her world is turned upside-down as Jean reassesses her roles as mother, wife and writer, seeking balance in an unknowable future.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2008

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