The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn
Lucy and Owen decide to spice up their marriage by experimenting with a six month open relationship arrangement. At first, all seems to be going well, with both parties noticing an increased appetite for sex yet secure in the knowledge of each other’s love. But, as has been foreshadowed practically since the beginning, things don’t quite work out as planned, and both must face the consequences of their decision.
The Arrangement is a hard, utterly frank look at the challenges of married life. Lucy and Owen’s desire for a fantasy life is all too relatable, and I like how Dunn shows us the real consequences of having this fantasy in an entertaining, non-moralistic way.
I love how the fun, adventurous girlfriend actually turns out to be much more possessive and demanding than Owen expected, as this feels a bit of welcome karma for women whose husbands cheat on them with someone “less complicated.” I also love how Liz’s no strings attached fling leads to her rediscovering her desirability, when she receives a level of attention and desire that has long been lost amongst the mundanity of everyday life. There are real consequences beyond Lucy and Owen’s relationship as well, as they also have to deal with the impact of their decisions on their autistic son.
The Arrangement is a fun, realistic look at marriage. The ending felt a bit abrupt, but otherwise I really enjoyed it.
Fly Me by Daniel Riley
Set in 1972 Los Angeles, Fly Me is about a young woman, Suzy Whitman, who follows her older sister into a career as a flight attendant for Grand Pacific Airlines. Suzy skateboards and suntans on the beaches of California and falls into a drug-trafficking scheme.
From the blurb, Fly Me seemed like glitzy, glamorous, hedonistic fun, but this just didn’t work for me and I ended up not finishing it. Something about it reminded me of 1980s novels by Harold Robbins or Jackie Collins, but not quite as delicious so it didn’t quite work. The story never quite hooked me, and I never quite came to care for the characters.
This just wasn’t a book for me, but from Goodreads reviews, it did work for other readers. One reviewer compares it to Don DeLillo, Joan Didion and Emma Cline, and a second reviewer echoes the comparison to Emma Cline’s The Girls.
Thank you to Hachette Book Group for advance reading copies of these books in exchange for honest reviews.