This was an incredibly intense, detailed description of a marriage in the wake of a husband's infidelity. I was wary at first, due to some of the descriptions about sexuality; I wasn't sure if the author had a particularly open outlook to sexuality (bisexuality, etc.). However, it didn't seem to be a prominent theme in the novel. Instead, we get a thorough and heart-wrenching look at the complications of marriage, love, and forgiveness. A lot happens to Caroline in this novel; at times, it seems like the hits just keep on coming for the poor girl. Chase does an excellent job of allowing you to have strong feelings for her characters. For instance, Adam: let's just say I'd clock that guy if I met him in an alley (or heck, a restaurant) somewhere! (Also, I kept picturing Adam from the HBO show Girls, which didn't really help the situation.)
It did take me a while to get into the book. Obviously, Caroline was going to wallow after her discovery of Adam's infidelity, but some of the introspection dragged a bit much. However, it picks up soon. Caroline's sister, Ruby, is a great addition to the novel (major points for a Jo Dee Messina reference in the novel; you don't see those very often). I enjoyed Chase's ability to capture the small details that hit Caroline so hard, or that occurred to her when she thought of Adam. Her strong characters and attention to detail really made the novel. (There's a line about one of Caroline's co-workers, Neil, and his daughters and their love of princesses, for example - it was just perfect and captured raising children so well.)
Overall, even though this wasn't always an easy book to read, I'm glad I did. It's a well-written portrayal of the complications of marriage and infidelity, and its characters stand out well. I also really liked the ending, which doesn't always happen for me, and that helped with my 4-star rating.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review (thank you!); it is available for publication everywhere as of 08/09/2016.
You can read my review of Chase's previous novel, THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, here.
Ms. Chase's RESULTS MAY VARY Playlist:
As part of the blog tour for this excellent novel, I was lucky enough to receive a copy of a playlist containing some of the songs that served as inspiration for Bethany Chase while writing this novel! It's a pretty awesome mix (and even includes Jo Dee, which just makes me love her more).
From the author: This is an interesting thing to write about, because this book has such a different musical personality from my first book, The One That Got Away. When I was writing that, I was listening to a lot of classic soul and 70’s rock (think Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack), and that made its way into the book in many places. Results May Vary’s playlist is a lot more eclectic, both on purpose and by accident.
1- Sugar & the Hi Lows, “Right Time to Tell You”: This song is gorgeous. The melody and harmonies are about as pretty as it gets, and the lyrics are
incredibly apropos to Adam’s situation—the narrator has something to confess, has been waiting for the right time to do it, but no time is ever the right time.
2- Fountains of Wayne’s gorgeous “Valley Winter Song”: This is a quintessential New-England- in-winter song for me. It talks about short, dreary winter days and snowstorms and hanging in there till the summer. (True, perfect fact: the Fountains guys are Williams alums just like Caroline and me.)
3- Band of Horses, “No One’s Gonna Love You”: Really sums up Caroline’s feelings toward Adam in the early part of the book.
4- Amos Lee, “Chill in the Air”: Another beautiful breakup song (in this one, it’s the steel guitar that cinches it), and a nod to Caroline’s predilection for mopey singer-songwriters. I think Amos is fantastic, but the man sure can write a good mopey song.
5- The Grateful Dead, “Fire on the Mountain”: This is one of my personal favorite songs that I was delighted to give to a character. I am only an entry-level Deadhead, but the guitar riff on this song is just so mellow and pretty that I could listen to it for hours. Or, you know, 13 minutes, which is the length of the longest live version of it that I own.
6- The Apache Relay, “Katie Queen of Tennessee”: Very pretty little love song from one of Jonathan’s favorite bands.
7- Jo Dee Messina, “Downtime”: Ruby wasn’t kidding that Jo Dee is the queen of upbeat breakup anthems. I’ve always loved this song because it’s about the
process of recovering yourself while you get over a breakup, which is really what the book is about. I especially love the line where she says “Your memory’s taking second to a good book and a nice, long bath.”
8- Duke Ellington, “Jeep’s Blues”: this piece gets a very specific call-out in the book because good lord, is it sexy. I’ve always thought blues is the sexiest music there is. (And this stood me in good stead when one of the questions on my online dating survey was “What’s your favorite music to get you in the mood” and I referenced something about one of the Allman Brothers barn-burners, which impressed the musician who is now my husband.)
9- Rogers & Hart, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”: I have an Ella Fitzgerald recording of this song that is one of my favorite all-time pieces of music. Ella’s voice is so beautiful, and the song’s lyrics have this sly, witty charm that—yes, I sound like an old person—you so rarely find anymore. “I’m wild again, beguiled again, a simpering, whimpering child again…” It’s such a great description of being infatuated.
10- First Aid Kit, “Emmylou”: Stunning harmonies in this song, and sweet, upbeat lyrics that remind me of Caroline and Neil. Especially where she says “I’m not asking much of you, just sing, little darling, sing with me” and “Things just don’t grow if you don’t bless them with your patience.”
Definitely check this one out, everyone!