"Ghosted" by Rosie Walsh
While there are some things at which I naturally excel — specifically, reading, writing, and drinking — there are many other things at which I utterly suck — namely, all forms of athleticism, walking without falling down, and dating.
Note: While there is no videographic evidence of my dating ineptitude, this is, actually, me. Falling. Twice within a 23 second period of time. #CaseRested
As an adolescent and into new adulthood, I approached all romantic relationships with serious trepidation.
From almost the minute I would start seeing someone, I would be plagued with this lingering fear.
Is he as into this as I am?
He’s not answering his phone. Why?
Maybe he’s not answering because, in the 15 minutes since I last saw him, he’s decided he doesn’t like me.
After a while, the intensity of this anxiety led me to avoid dating altogether.
Sure, I kinda wanted to get married, and I definitely wanted to have kids, but wasn’t there just a way to do that without the whole dating part?
As it would turn out, there was.
By the grace of God — and, really, by the inhibition eliminating power of Grey Goose — I transformed a friend into a romantic partner and married his ass without every actually dating him — Yeah. Let’s just not go into the details regarding how exactly that happened.
Looking back now, I’m even more grateful that I somehow took this exceptionally unorthodox path to matrimony as the whole process of dating seems to be so much fucking harder now than it was back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when I was a dater.
I mean just look at ghosting… it didn’t even really exist back in the aughts.
Honestly, had I been tasked with finding a mate in a world where ghosting was a legit thing, I would have just called it a day and bought some more fucking cats.
Were I ever to be in the position of no longer being married, it’s the cat-lady path I choose, for sure.
I choose cats because I simply don’t think I have the fortitude to go through the emotional turmoil the protagonist of this novel experienced.
Much like me, Sarah was quite young when she settled down.
After moving from England to LA in a desperate bid to escape some unfortunate experiences of her past, she met and quickly fell in love with an American.
They married, started a non-profit, and built a life together.
But now her marriage has ended. Her husband — like so many husbands before him — has fallen into the arms of another — younger — woman. This leaves Sarah newly single as she heads, as she does annually, back to England to visit her parents.
Though she expects this trip to be like all the other ones before it, fate intervenes and, on a country road, Sarah meets Eddie.
They have an immediate spark, so she accompanies him to a pub.
And then to his secluded workshop/home.
And then into his bed.
Free to do what she wants without having to explain herself — because, conveniently, her parents have been called out of town to care for her suddenly ailing grandfather — she settles in at Eddie’s house.
And stays there.
One day becomes two, then three, then four… and, before they know it, seven perfect days have passed.
Though she is pretty content to never leave the love nest she and Eddie have built — and he doesn’t seem in a rush to push her from it — Eddie is scheduled to head off on holiday.
So, the duo exchanges details and part, promising to stay in constant contact and to reconnect as soon as Eddie returns from Spain.
But Sarah doesn’t hear from Eddie that night.
Nor the next.
As the days pass and her increasingly urgent texts go unanswered, Sarah is left wondering what’s going on.
Could she really have been wrong about Eddie?
Were his affections not sincere?
Or has something happened to him?
With her desperation mounting, Sarah explores all avenues, reaching out to anyone who may be able to help. Despite knowing how pathetic chasing down a man who probably doesn’t want to be caught makes her seem, she can’t stop herself because continuing to live life as normal without knowing what the fuck happened to Eddie is impossible.
As a reader, I could absolutely understand Sarah’s desperation… because I felt it, too.
I was fucking invested.
I didn’t just want to know what happened to Eddie, I absolutely needed to know.
As I tore through the book, I hoped beyond hope that:
We would get an explanation and
That said explanation would be both believable and satisfying
Because, seriously, you don't just meet someone on a country road, share an awkwardly hilarious encounter involving sheep sexing — as in determining the gender of sheep... Not some weird ewe-related kink — spend seven days getting to know each others’ fucking souls, and then saunter off into the sunset.
The only acceptable explanation is that you’re fucking dead.
Or maybe in a coma.
Or, perhaps, suffering from amnesia.
Yes, that’s how much I wanted a happy ending. I was willing to believe in fucking amnesia as a plot point.
I was so attached to this duo — so willing to put aside all reason — because it was all so fucking perfect.
It's the kind if meet cute that everyone dreams about but few experience.
One where the stars align, the sparks fly, the warmth of natural intimacy is palpable.
Not, as is more often the case, a time when you meet some rando at a party, engage in a stilted conversation about ferrets, tag along as he tries — but fails — to buy drugs and end up in some shitty apartment on a rough comforter having Russian poetry read to you.
Ultimately, what most impressed me about this novel was that it had the potential to feel cliche and trite and unimportant.
Just reading the plot description, you might be inclined to believe that it's about some annoyingly naive girl and some typically assholeish man and their seven day bonk-marathon.
But, trust me, it's so much more than that.
For two reasons, really.
First, Walsh is an exceptionally good writer. This story, in some other author’s hands, might have ended a pile of drivel, both laughable and forgettable.
But she managed to transform it into something special by penning fluid and sensory-rich prose that truly drew readers into the world of the novel. As I furiously read, not even the commotion caused by my 2 year old and 9 year old fighting over a plastic velociraptor could pull me out of it.
When Walsh described Eddie's workshop home, she did it so richly that I could all but smell the scent of wet wood... Luxuriate in its remoteness....Feel the rough-hewn butcher block countertop under my fingers — I mean, fuck, I'm surprised I didn't come away with a splinter.
The second inarguable strength was the depth and relatability of her characters.
Unless you have a cold, dead heart, it would be impossible to not develop an affinity for Sarah and Eddie. Thanks, again, to Walsh’s strength as a storyteller, readers naturally became attached to these characters. You become so committed to their ultimate happiness, in fact, that you don’t even care that Walsh lead you astray multiple fucking times.
Let me explain...
My dual role as a reader and a writer, has resulted in the development of lots of beliefs about writing.
One of these beliefs is that, when they lay out their stories, writers make a compact with their readers.
As a rule, when an author establishes a plot in which the logical outcome is bad, they need to be brave enough to let that bad shit happen — even if you, the reader, really want a happy ending.
For example, a writer shouldn't present a character with terminal cancer who has basically no chance of survival and then, in the end, have her take some magic pill and pull through.
That's the kinda shit that pisses readers off.
That’s the kinda shit that pisses me off.
Sure, I didn’t want her to die. But you promised me she was going to die. We moved through this whole fucking book with that shared expectation. Now, at the end, you’re pulling it back?
This is something I feel very strongly about — because I’m a nerd and feel strongly about nerdy things.
So, here's the paradoxical thing about my utter infatuation with this book: Walsh broke the fuck out of this compact.
Like, on multiple occasions it seemed like all was lost — like a happy ending was an utter impossibility — and yet, I was not mad in the fucking slightest — when the ending was, in fact, a happy one.
I sipped my wine and I cried and I thanked to gods of love that it had worked out for Sarah and Eddie.
This book languished on the to-be-read pile for far too long because I misjudged it. I assumed it would be everything it wasn’t — light, trivial, fluffy.
But now, I see the error of my ways. I am an absolute advocate for this novel.
It is not only my best book of 2018, but also one that I will remember well into the future.
Without a doubt, it earns 5 out of 5 cocktails.
I judge the fuck out of books based on their covers and descriptions. Sometimes — as was the case with this novel — I discover that I’ve misjudged the book. Have you ever seriously misjudged a book? Tell me about it in the comments, below.
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