Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Review Of Michelle Richmond's Latest: The Marriage Pact. My 1st, But Definitely Not My Last!

The Marriage Pact is Michelle Richmond's 6th novel (plus 2 books of short stories).  For whatever reason, I haven't read any of her previous books.  But thanks to Andrew and Nicole (who also sent me the ARC) from Keplers, I will be going to Michelle's launch on August 1.  I have to admit that a great part of what is drawing me to the event is seeing Ellen Sussman, who is in conversation with Michelle.  I haven't seen Ellen in a long time, and I am a definite fan of both her and her books.  But whatever combo of events ultimately led me to read The Marriage Pact, I couldn't be happier.

Let's start with a very short blurb:  NEWLYWEDS ALICE AND JAKE ARE A PICTURE-PERFECT COUPLE.  When they join The Pact, an exclusive and mysterious group designed to keep marriages happy and intact, the Pact's rules seem easy to follow.  And then one of them breaks a rule...

I have so much to say about TMP that I could fill 3 posts.  So the best thing for me to do is make a list.  Bear with me.  I will try to make it short enough that your eyes don't glaze over.  But it will definitely be long enough for you to grab this sucker as soon as it goes live (this coming Tuesday, the 25th).

1.    I learned a lot of statistics and data about marriages.  Here is an example:  "...married people live longer than single people."  (That is VERY good news for me.)
2.    I also read a number of aphorisms about marriage that made sense to me.  A couple of examples:  "A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."  And, "Don't smother each other, nothing grows in the shade."
3.    There are a whole bunch of crazy rules to follow when you sign the Pact.  But I have to say that, at least in part, they made sense to me.  In other words, I found the premise of the book to be somewhat believable.
4.    The 1st chapter grabs you immediately.  And you get context for it a little over half-way through the book.
5.    Even though the book is pretty intense and very suspenseful , with many a nerve-wracking moment, there is still some  humor.  Take a look at what Groucho Marx had to say about marriage:  "Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?"
6.    Scientology anyone?
7.    I really like how Michelle describes mundane, everyday activities and paints a very visual picture.  "I put my duffel in the trunk, get into the driver's seat, and lean over to unlock the passenger-side door." And, again:  "Alice slipped a camisole over her head...pulling on her navy blue tights, shimmying them under her skirt." 
8.    I had my usual array of emotions.  But they were a little different this time.  On one occasion, I actually smiled in anticipation of what I thought was coming next.  Another time I had a frown.  I even uttered an "Oh, boy."  But I still had some tears and some chills.
9.    There is a section about 3/4 of the way through that I felt overdid the punishments for rules violations...until I read the end.  Then it all made sense.
10.  Michelle shows that she has her finger on the pulse of humanity. Ergo:  "The good and the bad are unavoidable, and at some point they strike us all.  The news is the news.  But the delivery of the news, the gestures, the words, the empathy and understanding-that's the gray area where the messenger has the power to make things a little easier or a lot more difficult."  Words to live by, yes?
11.  And I just love the writing:
"His suit strains at the chest and shoulders, as if he started lifting weights after he went to the tailor."
Another time, when Jake finds himself tied down to a table, he says, "I feel like a frog strapped down in a high school biology class, waiting to be dissected."

And I certainly can't pass up an opportunity to tell you a few things that I personally related to:

1.  Isobel, one of Jake's teenage clients, orders a burrito without beans. I, too, am a beanless burrito person.
2.  There is an incident that takes place at Sproul Plaza, on the Cal campus.  I went to Cal and certainly know Sproul Plaza.  In fact, I was in the Plaza when Dan Siegel incited (a legal determination) the students to storm People's Park on May 15, 1969.  P.S.  I was a wuss and didn't go to PP.
3.  Jake is describing something that he does regularly and says, "That's what I do."  Believe it or not, when I fall back on habit, Joni will ask me, "Is that what you do?"  I can't argue with her on that.

As you can see, I liked The Marriage Pact a lot.  I hope you will give it a try.



  1. I keep hearing good things about this book! I need to get my hands on it.

  2. How can anyone resist this post? Just added it to my list!

    1. Fooled 'em again! No, really, it's very good.

  3. Sounds interesting. Thanks for the reco!

  4. Ooooh, this sounds good. And with such a great review I will have to add it to my list. I haven't read anything by this author, but this seems like a good place to start.