Sunday 14 June 2015

Review ~ Affairytale by CJ English

Reviewed by Donna ~ 4 stars

“Grant was a modern prodigy, a musical muse. He lured me in with his tenor and then held me captive with his timbre.”

Firstly as you can tell, this is a book about an affair, so if cheating is one of your triggers then this book will not be for you. While for the majority of the book the cheating is more “emotional” than physical it does still leave a bitter taste and for me personally I felt sorry for the husband, Levi. I am an open minded person, cheating doesn’t bother me in books, in fact it is a part of real life as much as you wish it didn’t happen. I understand to a degree why people do it and it is made all the more palatable if in fact that person does in fact turn out to be “the one” as was the case in this book. However, there are two sides to every story and I really want to know Levi’s.

“Levi was the man I couldn’t live with, and Grant was the man I couldn’t live without.”

CJ English is extremely brave in putting her love life into print and while I feel that her aim was to tell the story of what proved to be a beautiful love affair, the parts that stuck with me the most were her treatment of her then husband Levi. Every tear I shed was for Levi and to be honest CJ did herself no favours in parts of this book, but this is a memoir, it was real, real emotions, real fears and real love. At least the author was brave enough not to sugar coat it and make herself look better, she was brutally honest and it was this that also made me a bit uncomfortable, I felt like a voyeur at times. Knowing that the story was true has a dramatic effect when you are reading, it really did happen, it is not someone’s over active imagination, we are reading about real people and real feelings, you cannot help but become emotionally invested. Personally, I think because you were blinkered towards the love affair that was growing between CJ and Grant, when the scenes with Levi were described it really hit home the emotional fall out for the person that was on the receiving end.

“…and since no argument was ever fully laid to rest or resolved, snippets of previous arguments were continually reconstituted and poured back into the pot, making a more concentrated poison each time we fought. It was a poison laced with resentment over everything that had ever been said or done that hadn’t been resolved. This resentment ate at me from the inside, callousing my heart and turning me into someone I was not.”

I admit that the relationship between CJ and Levi was far from perfect, neither seemed to be willing to put in the effort to make it work until it was too late, but the hardest part for me was why CJ married Levi in the first place knowing she had feelings for another man, whether it had any future or not, it was a glaring beacon to say that this marriage would not work. I know that at some point in our lives we have all done what people expect of us, whether we want to do it or not, but this was a huge life changing decision.

There is no doubt that CJ English is a talented writer, the heart felt emotion that poured from the pages of this made this a un-put-down-able read. As much as it was hard to read in places you couldn’t help but get drawn into CJ and Grant’s will they won’t they, push and pull love affair. This is not a spur of the moment decision either, this is an affair born of friendship over at least a decade. It is this time span that is tantamount to the character connection that you cannot help but feel as you read.

“Being with you feels even better than I imagined…I had a feeling it was you.”

I loved Grant, he was broken, he had been on the receiving end of an affair and it had left its emotional scars and I believe that it is because of this that this affair took as long as it did to reach its crescendo. Having been on the receiving end he was reticent to take it further and was quite happy to keep it going at the friendship level even though the lines were incredibly blurry. He kept his cards close to his chest and never really expressed how he felt at all and it was this that keeps you the reader on the edge and also for me made me wonder what he was hiding. I was waiting for something to drop, waiting for something, anything to be revealed that would change my opinion of him, but it never came. He was a genuine, upstanding guy and a guy that you couldn’t help but want to get their own happy ever after.

“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.” - Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

My emotions were torn while reading, but at the end of the day this is a book that I have been thinking about for days and have discussed at length with other friends that have read it. A book that can have that lasting effect is definitely a great book. It makes you think, it surfaces emotions that other books just don’t reach and the memoir aspect certainly makes you read this book through a different set of glasses. While the beauty of the love affair unfolding before your eyes cannot help but tug at your heart strings and give you that uplifting feeling this book is balanced by the reality of the person left behind. To see a man destroyed, questioning his masculinity and have his self esteem shredded cut me and it cut me deep, it is this that will leave the deepest scars for me.

“I’m so sorry you found out this way.”

Buy Links:

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