This is the Story of a Happy Marriage: A Review

This is the Story of a Happy MarriageThis is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This author was recommended to me by a friend. I wasn’t sure which book I wanted to read first, but I thought that this compilation of essays that were published in various magazines and publications would be a decent place to start. Overall, it was okay. I will probably try to pick up one of her fictions later on in the year.

The essays were not in published chronological order, but they seemed to move through her life from when she was a child wanting to be a writer all the way into her present marriage. The writing touched on various highlights, such as the controversy of one of her books to her first marriage, subsequent divorce, and journey into her second marriage.

My favorite essay was the one called On Responsibility which introduced her relationship with her grandmother who had dementia and her relationship with her dog. I can personally relate to both of these experiences.

My least favorite was The Getaway Car, which was her journey to becoming a writer, filled with a lot of advice to those who may look into that career path. I didn’t really have any connection with her other writings which probably made that particular post slightly boring.

She is funny and honest and, at times, blunt with her writing, but I wouldn’t recommend this as a first read for this author. Hopefully, in reading her other work, I will have a better understanding and connection to the material I read in this book.


House Project #1: The Shed

Last summer, Michael and I started talking about getting some things accomplished around the house.  We created a budget and plan and worked on it all through the fall and winter.  And this month, we are going to get the bigger projects accomplished, just in time for the arrival of our little one!

The first project on the list was a shed in our backyard for Michael’s aquarium hobby.  A few years ago, he had a frag tank where he grew coral frags that he would sell to friends and at frag swaps.  This is one great way to get involved in the aquarium community, and he really liked doing it.

But he closed up shop, so to speak, after our second daughter passed away and took a year off.  He definitely wanted to do it again, but wanted to make sure he had the proper space and time to do it.

And that’s when he got the idea for having a shed in our backyard to move his frag growing tank.  He also wanted to build it in such a way that it could be used for other things down the road.

We ended up hiring a contractor to do the work, since it is busy season for Michael, and I’m, you know, pregnant (could you imagine me building this right now?).  So here was the process last week.

Before.  This was where my garden was last year.  We moved the garden to the other side of the yard, which actually will work out better.


After the first day (you can see the platform).


During the second day.  I stayed inside with the pups during most of the construction, so that’s why these look like sneaky pictures from the window.  Because they are.


The final product!


I refer to it now as our barn because of the big door in the front.  Michael still has to paint it to match the house, and we have an electrician coming to wire it, but it’s neat to see the project come together!

How to Stop Time: A Review

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

This was the book that I mentioned in my February Favorites post.  Here’s the full review!

How To Stop Time is an Adult Fiction by Matt Haig. It’s a beautiful mixture of historical fiction and a little bit of intrigue and mystery and romance. I picked up this book because I wanted something that had romance in it, and the tagline was “The number one rule is don’t fall in love.” And I was hooked. Also, I got a version that features illustrator Chris Riddell. I don’t have many books (Adult or YA) that have illustrations in them, so it was neat to see the words come to life alongside the gorgeous sketches.

Tom Hazard is the main character and narrator of the story. He has lived for over four hundred years due to a condition that makes him age slowly. The story interweaves between his memories of the past and present day that explains a lot of his motivations throughout the book. This has been one of the most seemingly realistic immortality-esque stories I have read. He isn’t rich or overly talented or charismatic, any more than any other human person, which makes him very relatable even though his condition and life are not. Other people with his condition are not completely like him. Similar, yes, but their own complex personalities and perspectives shape who they are. The “immortals” of this story are each different and have chosen different paths.
The women in his story are probably my favorite part. His mother, wife (Rose), daughter (Marion), and a present-day woman he meets while teaching history in London (Camille) are each different and complex. We don’t know everything about each character since it’s told from his perspective, but they are each painted as flawed yet beautiful people who affect his journey.
It’s written in the first person, from Tom’s perspective. We see his conflicting thoughts, his memories from the past and the present day situations in an effortless flowing narrative. The sections are short, as they flip from present day to various places in the past. And there are so many good quotes from this book. I felt like I could highlight several lines.
So, I don’t feel like I can write much about the plot without spoilers. After losing his mother and later his wife, Tom learns that his daughter might have the same condition that he does. He goes out in search of her and comes across a society of people like him. He joins this society in hopes that they will use their network to find his daughter, but in the meantime, he has to follow their rules – don’t fall in love, move every eight years, do whatever Heinrich (the leader) asks of you. As the story opens in present day, Tom is starting to question staying with this society, but fears what might happen if he doesn’t.
The overall themes of time and relationships are beautifully explored. I don’t want to get into specifics because, you know, spoilers, but the author actually does answer the question of how to stop time.

There is profanity used throughout the book, especially with some characters. It is actually a descriptor for a couple of the characters. And talked about deliberately (like, it’s acknowledged that the character cusses a lot).
There isn’t a whole lot of sexual content, at least none really described. A few kissing scenes here and there, and a reference to some sexual harassment that a couple characters endure. But in the sexual harassment section, it is alluded to, and then Tom goes and punches him in the nose. Nothing graphic
There is some violence. Tom is asked to bring people into the society, and if they don’t want to come, he is supposed to kill them. Tom is shot at one point. And of course, there is death throughout the story as people die and he goes on living. But none of it, I felt was too graphic.

At first, I was going to give this book 4 out of 5 stars because I enjoyed the story and flow well enough. But the ending was so good and as I was reading it, I realized how it had all been building up to this. I got emotional, and that bumps this up to 5 stars for me. It’s a wonderful read about life and time and relationships. I would definitely recommend!