Vow: A Memoir of Marriage (And Other Affairs)

From The Telegraph:

Wilson_f_main_2516111bWendy Plump had been married for 18 years when she found out about the Other Woman. Susan lived, apparently, a mile down the road in a house that Plump’s husband, Bill, had bought for her; and living there also was their eight-month-old baby boy. “The news fell into place,” Plump writes, “with an almost audible click. Like a bullet revolving in its cylinder and lining up with the chamber.” Plump uses this image because it describes the “kind of violence that I lived with later on”, but the marriage between Wendy and Bill had been a crime scene from the start. Vow is not the kind of memoir usually written by a bruised wife bent on revenge, but then Plump was not the usual kind of wife, and it is not revenge that she is after. For a start, she had affairs of her own (three in all: honesty is what Plump does best), all of them in the early years. By the time Bill met Susan, the Plumps had a “360-degree view of infidelity. We knew it from every angle.” Wendy was unfaithful because she was young and excited and wanted something inexpressible. She just wanted, and wanting, she says, puts a terrible strain on marriage vows. What Plump didn’t want was for her marriage to end; she loved her husband and she liked their life. But she was hungry, and as W H Auden reminds us in the epigraph to the book, “Hunger allows no choice”.

…Like all books which take an aim at the truth, Vow may change the way you see yourself; it will at least change your marriage. This is not because it is a morality tale or an account of infidelity that will scare you enough not to give it a go. It would be easy to produce this kind of book, and Plump doesn’t take the easy way through anything. What makes Vow so powerful is that she dissects not only the carcass of her own marriage, but the drive that propels so many otherwise sane people to destroy, for the sake of a moment of wanting, the bullet-proof world they have tried to create. Plump, who is now as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove, suggests that monogamous couples – at whom she gawps as though they were animals in a zoo – are committed less to their spouses than they are to themselves. Fidelity “has to do with their own honour”.

More here.