Title: After I Do
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Book Length: 336 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Chick Lit
Read Start Date: April 19, 2023
Read Finish Date: April 27, 2023
Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: From the New York Times bestselling author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, comes a breath taking novel about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both.
When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.
Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for? This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game-and searching for a new road to happily ever after.
My Review: The novel tells the story of Lauren and Ryan, a married couple who have been together for 11 years but are struggling in their marriage. The book takes readers on a journey through the couple’s decision to take a year-long break from their marriage to try and figure out what they really want.
The novel begins with Lauren and Ryan at their breaking point. They have tried couples therapy, but nothing seems to be working. Lauren is feeling unfulfilled in her job as a freelance writer, and Ryan is feeling stuck in his job as a lawyer. They are also struggling with communication issues, and their once-loving relationship has become strained.
After a particularly bad fight, Lauren and Ryan decide to take a year-long break from their marriage. During this time, they agree not to see each other or communicate in any way. They both hope that this time apart will help them figure out if they still love each other and if they want to stay married.
The year apart is not easy for either of them. Lauren struggles to find her place in the world and her purpose in life without Ryan. She also finds herself becoming more isolated and lonely as she spends more time on her own. Ryan, on the other hand, finds himself drawn to a coworker and begins to question his feelings for Lauren.
Throughout the novel, we see the couple grow and change as they spend time apart. They both have experiences that help them grow as individuals, and they begin to understand themselves better. Lauren discovers a new passion for photography and starts a successful business, while Ryan decides to leave his law firm and pursue a career as a musician.
As the year apart comes to a close, Lauren and Ryan must decide if they want to stay together or move on separately. They both have new perspectives on life and love, and they must decide if they can forgive each other for the mistakes of their past and build a new future together.
As a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s recent books, I couldn’t help but notice that her writing style in After I Do feels different. Although Reid is an excellent writer, the tone and structure of this book deviates from the style of her more recent works. Perhaps it’s because After I Do is written in the first person, or maybe it’s because it’s a contemporary novel rather than historical fiction (or what I like to call modern historical, where the story takes place in the last few decades rather than centuries). Whatever the reason may be, it feels like a departure from her usual style – but this could also be an early work in the evolution of Reid’s writing.
Although I have been divorced myself, I found it difficult to relate to Lauren. When I ended my own marriage, I was completely done with my ex and didn’t think about him or care about his whereabouts. However, Lauren seemed to be consumed by the absence of her husband and continued to think of him throughout their year-long separation, even writing unsent emails to him. From the beginning, I sensed that she didn’t truly hate him as she claimed. While the book’s message seems to be that the year break was necessary for them to rediscover their love for each other, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were truly in touch with their feelings. If they were so fed up with each other that they wanted to break up, why did they immediately realize that they couldn’t stand being apart? This made me question their level of self-awareness and the authenticity of their feelings.
Despite this one small flaw, some positive aspects of the book include:
Realistic portrayal of marriage: One of the strengths of the book is its realistic portrayal of marriage. Reid does not shy away from showing the ups and downs of a long-term relationship, including the challenges and struggles that many couples face. This makes the story relatable and authentic
Strong character development: The characters in the book are well-developed and complex, making them feel like real people rather than just fictional constructs.
Thought-provoking themes: The book tackles many thought-provoking themes, including the importance of communication in relationships, the challenges of pursuing one’s dreams while in a partnership, and the question of whether love is enough to sustain a long-term relationship.