A common story that’s irresistible reading

Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies went on sale this week.  It had a strict-on-sale date of March 24 due to the deal with Starbuck’s to sell the memoir in its stores. Maureen Corrigan in her recent NPR “Fresh Air” review called it compulsively readable, and it is indeed that. (Corrigan’s review is the reason I ran out and bought the book.)

Gilles is an actress known for her role as Detective Stabler’s wife in the TV show Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and she starred in the movie Metropolitan. She writes about the end of her marriage to husband, Josiah, a poet, whom she’d known since childhood.  Married and with two toddlers, they left New York City for Josiah to teach at Oberlin College in Northeastern Ohio. There they had the perfect life, in an idyllic academic setting, in a perfect house, with great friends, until Josiah fell in love with an Audrey Hepburn-like professor newly hired to teach 18th century literature. 

While this is a common story that “happens every day,” it’s told in such a fresh revealing voice it’s hard to put down. 

Gilles writes without self-pity or blame or grudges or judgment, rather with innocence that captures her shock as if what happened is still a devastating surprise. My one complaint is that she ends the book too abruptly, as in “and they lived happily ever after.” She sounds like she got tired of writing and just turned off the computer. I needed a bit more about how she transitioned back into her New York life.