Monday, August 29, 2022

"Take My Husband"

Ellen Meister's newest novel, Take My Husband, is a darkly comic take on a modern suburban marriage, and received a starred review from Booklist. It follows her other critically acclaimed books, including The Rooftop Party, which was called "wickedly entertaining" by BookReporter and was selected by Long Island Woman Magazine as Summer Pick of the year, as well as Love Sold Separately, The Other Life, Dorothy Parker Drank Here, Farewell, Dorothy Parker and more. In addition to being a novelist, Meister is an editor, screenwriter, book coach, creative writing instructor, and ghostwriter.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Take My Husband and reported the following:
Take My Husband is a quirky dark comedy that defies convention. So it’s no surprise that it refuses to cooperate with the Page 69 Test, which lands it smack on a chapter break.

Clearly, this book makes its own rules, and has decided the Page 99 Test is where it wants to be. This page gives us a scene that distills the premise to one tidy little package. Here’s the set-up, as outlined in my publisher’s promotion copy:
While working at Trader Joe’s to make ends meet, Laurel Applebaum continues doting on her needy, unemployed husband. When she learns he’s been in a car accident, Laurel imagines the worst and is overcome with grief. But on her way to the hospital, another emotion seizes her. Relief. Doug’s death will solve everything. At last, no more catering to his constant demands. No more struggles to find time for her own needs. And then there’s the life insurance money. Laurel’s dreams are close enough to touch.

But there’s one problem. Doug is very much alive. Now Laurel has to decide if she’s going to do something about it.
And she does! By page 99, Laurel has tried several ways to sabotage her husband’s precarious health, including omitting his blood pressure medication, and sending him out to mow the lawn when he’s most likely to have a stroke. Laurel also neglects to remind him about his doctor’s appointment. But her foil—annoying sister-in-law Abby—steps in to take him for his exam.
“Doug had such a good checkup today!” Abby interrupted, her voice bright.

“He did?”

“I’m down twelve pounds!” Doug said, grinning.

“Twelve pounds?”

Abby put down the sponge. “And his blood pressure was one-forty over eighty.”

“Lowest it’s been in years,” Doug added.

Laurel was so surprised she could barely speak. “Wow. I…uh…”

“Dr. Hayworth said it’s all the exercise I’ve been getting lately, taking care of the yard and everything.”

“Oh, I didn’t realize…”

“Me, neither,” Doug said. “I guess I never really believed it would make such a big difference.”

“I’m so proud of my baby brother,” Abby gushed.

“I’m… I’m proud of you, too,” Laurel said, reeling. Instead of Doug’s health declining, he was better than ever. At this rate, he could live to a hundred.
Poor Laurel! Now she’ll really have to step up her game…
Visit Ellen Meister's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dorothy Parker Drank Here.

The Page 69 Test: Love Sold Separately.

--Marshal Zeringue