Some days, I post a book review. This is one of those days.
If you know anyone, including yourself, who has gone through or is currently embroiled in a painful divorce, here’s a book I wish had been published years earlier: Split: A Memoir of Divorce, by Suzanne Finnamore (2008).
Finnamore was in her 40s with a small son when her husband left for a new life with what turned out to be another woman. In retrospect, she saw the clues. Yet as those of us who’ve survived can attest, sometimes we want so much for the relationship to endure that we fail to see it’s turned harmful.
As the saying goes, “Sure, they love you, but not in a way that does you any good.”
What distinguishes this book is Finnamore’s humor. Her quotable writing. Suzanne’s supporters, from the friend who’s been longing for the day Suzanne’s husband would leave (“‘You hate him that much?’ ‘No, I love you that much . . . he’s practically sucked out all your blood.’”) to her stepfather, who lends her his beloved four-wheel-drive truck and says, “‘Take the Ram . . . I’d like to drive it up his ass.’”
Finnamore’s ability to wrench wry wit from banally stupid events, and her skill in distilling truth.
And her ability to come to peace, to wade through muck in order to reach a place where she can be friendly to the father of her much-loved son.
I’m not going to try to convince you. Allow me to quote. I dare you to keep a straight face:
“I sensed he may have occasionally strayed in some of his past relationships. It was something I felt but ignored, a rent in the fabric of an otherwise splendid garment I thought I could mend.”
“All my life, I should not have worried so much about looking foolish. Signs matter. And all waves are dangerous, especially the ones you refuse to see coming.”
“It seems tawdry to fantasize about a second husband before I’m officially divorced from the first. Also I deduce: Divorce is snakebite. One’s next thought should not be, Where am I going to find another snake?”
“‘God is great and God is good,’ Lisa says. ‘But where are the Apache attack helicopters when you need them?’”
When she discusses with her counselor the oddness of Finnamore’s husband not wanting their son around much in the father’s new life: “‘I know,’ Nadine says, a tiny smile playing on her lips. ‘I see this a lot: It’s like they steal the silverware and leave the Monet.’”
“It’s not as though N tried very hard in couples counseling, during our first $180-an-hour go-round. He just sat there grimacing and polishing his bendable Japanese titanium eyeglasses and talking nicely about the therapist’s shoes. And the therapist, another tall, pale man who obviously belonged to N’s affluent-man club, seemed pleased, and answered the questions about his shoes. ‘Kenneth Cole,’ he said. I sat rearranging my insides and breathing very slowly, so as not to scream forth like a teakettle.”
“I also wish I could send a message into every tortured, depressed, and betrayed woman’s mind at this very moment so they would just turn mid-step and say with perfect clarity to their husbands: ‘Oh, wait – this is crazy. Feel free to go and make some other lucky woman’s life into this exact shade of black.’”
“‘It’s okay to love him, as long as you stay clear on who he is,’ Nadine says. ‘A lover without borders,’ I murmur. ‘A man without boundaries. A good man, but not for me to be married to. And the father of my son.’”
Split. It’s a tough process. Read it.