Wednesday, May 11, 2011

book review: First Husband by Laura Dave

The First Husband: A NovelThe backstory: Laura Dave is one of my favorite authors. I loved both of her first two novels, London is the Best City in America (my review)--also one of my favorite titles ever--and The Divorce Party (my review). I'm been eagerly awaiting her latest novel, The First Husband.

The basics: Instead of a plot summary, here are the opening lines: "It feels important to start with the truth about how I got here. When everything gets messy and brutal and complicated, the truth is the first thing to go, isn't it? People try to shade it or spin it or fix it. As though fixing the facts will make the situation less messy and brutal and complicated. Not more. But there's no fixing this: the truth is that I brought it on myself. All of it."

My thoughts: It's safe to say I will read anything Laura Dave writes. I don't need to know what it's about or anything else besides who wrote it. When I sat down and started reading The First Husband, I was pleasantly surprised to see the main characters are a travel writer and a chef. Food, travel and reading are my three favorite things (watching The Good Wife and drinking sauvignon blanc on the patio when it's 68 degrees round out the top five.) One of the greatest joys of this novel was seeing Annie (the delightfully authentic travel writer who instantly seems like your best friend) take such interesting geographic journeys. Plus, much of the novel is set in rural Massachusetts, which is not too far from Albany.

The true magic of The First Husband, though, aside from Dave's under-appreciated literary talent, is the true realness of the characters. As I read (well, devoured, really) this novel, I didn't care how it ended or what happened. I trusted Dave implicitly, and I just wanted to be along for the ride. This magic is rare for me, and it only happens when I can forget I'm reading fiction (and I'm a firm believer fiction can be more real than reality itself.) Annie and Griffin were real people to me. I knew, of course, that Dave created them and they are fictional characters, but they felt so real, I could only imagine the way the book ended would be the way it is in life.

Favorite passage: "But I was starting to wonder if maybe I had missed what freedom really looked like. Because maybe it had less to do with always having a way out. And had something more to do with finding a way in."

The verdict: When it comes to writing about everyday life, feelings, love and the decisions we face, few do it as well as Laura Dave. Her writing shines and this novel digs deep both into both emotion and truth. In short, I loved it. I'll look forward to re-reading it almost as much as I'll look forward to Laura Dave's next novel.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5 stars)
Length: 256 pages
Publication date: May 12, 2011
Source: I received a copy from the publisher for review

Treat yourself! Buy The First Husband from Amazon (or for the Kindle.) While you're at it, treat yourself to London is the Best City in America (Kindle version) and The Divorce Party (Kindle version) too.

As an affiliate, I receive a very, very small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. I recently read another rave review of this, and coupled with yours and the great quotes that you added to your review, I think I may be missing something by not having read this author yet. I am adding this one to my list, and I hope I get the chance to read it soon, as it sounds wonderful! Thanks for the excellent review!

  2. Smashing review! I've never read any of Dave's stuff, so I think I now know where to start.

  3. Penelope Lively is that way for me -- I'll read anything of hers, sight unseen. Your enthusiasm for Laura Dave has me scrabbling to find her -- now which to start with??

  4. Woohoo! I am so excited to read this one soon. It sounds great!

  5. Just based on the excerpts alone, I want to read this one; after reading your thoughts, I know I do!
    Thanks for introducing this author to me :)

  6. I had not heard of this author before, but the excepts you provided have made me want to run out and get one of her books.


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