There are very many books exploring the topic of domestic violence but what intrigued my about Accidents of Marriage was the fact it promised a look at the less public topic of emotional abuse and it’s impact upon marriage.
The story follows Maddy and her 3 children as they live on a knife edge around her husband Ben and his ever changing moods. His temper and outbursts have led to a world where they all try to avoid upsetting him. Eventually, the books description outlines, an outburst leads to a car accident in which Maddy is left fighting for her life.
This description of the book was truly intriguing however once I began reading I was left a little disappointed. From page one of the book we are made aware that Maddy has a reliance upon prescription drugs in order to function day to day. This is stated as being due to Ben’s behaviour. The book however did a really poor job of defining the seriousness of his behaviour. Rather than being an emotional account it all felt a little too wishy washy and clinical for me. We are only given one or two brief examples. I would have preferred some flashbacks to the incidents to allow me to identify with them more. Instead we are offered a view from Ben where he talks about feeling like a constant failure to Maddy and at times due to the way her behaviour is outlined I could actually empathise as it did appear this was the case. She seemed to find great comfort in complaining about him to friends. It just wasn’t enough for me to make me feel that Ben’s character was an awful person, instead he came across as misunderstood.
Also the accident described in the book is a difficult one as they blame Ben but when I read it I felt blame was to be shared by Maddy as well as it appeared that she also wasn’t in the best frame of mind at the time and had in fact removed her own seatbelt in order to have a distracting family discussion with Ben as he drove. Also we are told later the other vehicle involved had a drink driver and this seems to be skimmed over.
The second part of the book was painfully slow and I just truly couldn’t care what happened to the family in the end. The characters were very two dimensional and it was a book that for me missed a great opportunity. To write an amazing book about the crippling effects of emotional abuse and instability caused by a persons moods would have been a remarkable thing to read and what I hoped for but instead it became a journey back to health for Maddy and the trials of her daughter rather than the journey of a marriage.
I wanted to love this but I couldn’t and wouldn’t say I’d recommend it very highly