She’s almost forty, she’s married to a steady (but dull) chap, she’s got a great house, a lovely daughter, a budding career in pottery, some very good friends – and she’s as unhappy as unhappy can be.
I was almost tempted to be unsympathetic to Elyse Bearden, the star of Love In Mid Air. After all, I’m sure there are scores of women who would give their eye teeth for the lifestyle she’s itching to leave behind. But there’s something really appealing about Elyse’s story, something about her willingness to throw caution to the wind and act on the impulses a lot of us have probably felt but have quickly stuffed deep into the recesses of our souls, something that makes me want to cheer her on, even though she’s acting in a way that most of us would never have the courage to do.
The novel opens when Elyse meets Gerry, a handsome stranger she happens to be seated next to on an airplane. They are instantly attracted to one another, and by page 9 of the novel, they are in the Traveler’s Chapel of the airport, kissing, “one of those kisses that gives you the feeling that you’re falling, that the elevator floor has dropped out from under you.”
Things (by which I mean sex) just get better from there, and the two of them engage in a lovely and lusty affair. Their monthly rendezvous becomes the interlude for the rest of Elyse’s life – her ludicrous attempt at marriage counseling (with her husband’s best friend as the counselor, no less), her daily walks with her girl friends, the way she refines her artistic endeavors as she formulates her plans for leaving the marriage and starting a new life on her own. By novel’s end, I was ready to applaud her ~ she wasn’t leaving her husband for another man, she was really leaving her husband for another woman – herself, at least the self she’s finally discovered and learned to know.
One might think Love in Mid Air is chick-lit personified, but the writing is smarter and wittier than I’ve encountered in other books written in that genre. Elyse and her circle are vivid, multi-dimensional characters, and Kim Wright’s writing style is engaging and extremely readable. Women readers, married or not, will think about their own relationships in new ways, and might even be slightly haunted by the specter of Elyse Bearden, whispering in their ear.
You always forget this part, that life regenerates itself underground through the winter, that happiness comes back. You forget that your body has the capacity for joy, that it craves it like water. You forget that one thing can end and another can begin. There is always a way out, out through the broken places…
Copyright 2010, by Kim Wright *312 pages