Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story [NOOK Book]


Isabel Gillies had a wonderful life -- a handsome, intelligent, loving husband; two glorious toddlers; a beautiful house; the time and place to express all her ebullience and affection and optimism. Suddenly, that life was over. Her husband, Josiah, announced that he was leaving her and their two young sons.

When Josiah took a teaching job at a Midwestern college, Isabel and their sons moved with him from New York City to Ohio, where Isabel ...
See more details below
Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
BN.com price


Isabel Gillies had a wonderful life -- a handsome, intelligent, loving husband; two glorious toddlers; a beautiful house; the time and place to express all her ebullience and affection and optimism. Suddenly, that life was over. Her husband, Josiah, announced that he was leaving her and their two young sons.

When Josiah took a teaching job at a Midwestern college, Isabel and their sons moved with him from New York City to Ohio, where Isabel taught acting, threw herself into the college community, and delighted in the less-scheduled lives of toddlers raised away from the city. But within a few months, the marriage was over. The life Isabel had made crumbled. "Happens every day," said a friend.

Far from a self-pitying diatribe, Happens Every Day reads like an intimate conversation between friends. Gillies has written a dizzyingly candid, compulsively readable, ultimately redemptive story about love, marriage, family, heartbreak, and the unexpected turns of a life. On the one hand, reading this book is like watching a train wreck. On the other hand, as Gillies herself says, it is about trying to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness, and loving your life even if it has slipped away. Hers is a remarkable new voice -- instinctive, funny, and irresistible.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gillies left her recurring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to follow her poet-professor husband to Oberlin, Ohio, when he got a tenure-track position in the English department. She threw herself into caring for her two sons, renovating an old house and teaching drama part-time—but her idyllic life was shattered when her husband decided he didn't want to be married anymore—or at least, not married to Gillies. (He subsequently wed a fellow professor.) Gillies brings both humor and sorrow to the narration. Despite a tendency to trail off at the end of sentences, which leaves listeners straining to hear the completion of a thought, she gives a brave performance that will have her audience cheering as she pluckily reassembles the pieces of her broken life. A Scribner hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 23). (Mar.)
Library Journal

Every day, lovingly planned lives are ripped from unsuspecting partners and spouses by carelessness or by design. It's a story that can be told in a thousand different ways. Gillies's chronicle of her family's move to a small college town for the benefit of her husband's career charms readers before breaking their hearts when said husband leaves. By turns enlightening, funny, and gut-wrenching, this is a great read about one of the great truths of life: you can't control what happens to you; you can only control how you react. Actress Gillies (Detective Stabler's wife on Law and Order) has created an evenhanded account of a horribly difficult time in her life, which she has probed for meaning and mined for a great story. In terms of compelling reading, Happens Every Day is the nonfiction equivalent of Nora Ephron's Heartburn. A tearjerker with a bittersweet yet happy ending, this memoir is highly recommended for all libraries, especially for popular collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ11/1/08.]
—Audrey Snowden

Kirkus Reviews
The author's debut memoir chronicles how her storybook marriage went belly up. Best known for her recurring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Gillies displays her flair for drama in print. She brings to life the town of Oberlin, Ohio, complete with organic market, eccentric academics and insanely quaint coffee shops. The author also manages to squeeze multiple cliffhangers out of one central incident: her husband Josiah, a poetry professor at Oberlin College, leaving her for a colleague named Sylvia. The title is drawn from a conversation in which Gillies asked Sylvia how her husband could leave their two children. "Happens every day," the Other Woman replied. Although readers know from the beginning that Josiah eventually moved in with Sylvia, it's unclear at the time of this exchange if anything had happened between the two. It's also unclear whether the author was trying to provoke Sylvia into an admission with this naive remark or was just plain clueless. It doesn't help Gillies' credibility that she's prone to sentences like, "I hate to say that, and it's only a theory, but I think it's true." As to whether or not she actually had a perfect marriage whose only problem was the woman who broke it up, readers will draw their own conclusions. Excruciating scenes-such as the one in which Josiah forces Gillies to apologize for yelling at Sylvia-suggest that there was more going on here than the author cares to tell-or perhaps ever realized. Untidy but readable-a made-for-TV movie ready for casting. Author appearances in New York metro area and Maine. Agent: Bill Clegg/William Morris Agency
From the Publisher
"Fans of Eat, Pray, Love will devour this book."
— John Searles, MSNBC.com

“A memoir so raw you feel like it’s your best friend telling you her story.”
Glamour, “Must-Read”

“A smart, rueful memoir of love, betrayal and survival.”
O, the Oprah magazine

“You gobble up [Happens Every Day], rooting for the engaging Gillies… A guilty pleasure for readers."
USA Today

“I couldn’t help but admire her bravery in exposing the dark side of her seemingly perfect life in such a good-humored, self-effacing way…. You feel nothing but deepest sympathy.”

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439148570
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 3/24/2009
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 136,930
  • File size: 346 KB

Meet the Author

Isabel Gillies, known for her television role as Detective Stabler’s wife on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and for her cinematic debut in the film Metropolitan, graduated from New York University with a BFA in film. She lives in Manhattan with her second husband, her two sons, and her stepdaughter.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


One late August afternoon in our new house in Oberlin, Ohio, my husband, Josiah, took it upon himself to wallpaper the bathroom with pictures of our family. Over the years, we had collected an enormous number of framed pictures. Some were generations old and really should be called photographs; like the one of Josiah's grandfather, a Daniel Day-Lewis-like, strong-looking man, sitting in profile on a porch, casually surrounded by all his family, including my father-in-law, Sherman, at age ten. I always thought that picture would have been a good album cover for a southern rock band like Lynyrd Skynyrd. There was one of my great-grandmothers looking beautiful, rich, and Bostonian on her wedding day in 1913. There was a picture of my mother sitting on stairs at Sarah Lawrence College in Jackie O sunglasses and pigtails. Numerous black-and-white pictures of various family dogs.

My grandparents on my mother's side always had somewhere between two and six black labs around at any given time. There were also two St. Bernards, one named McKinley and the one before that, Matterhorn. They lived in Croton, New York, on the Hudson River, on Quaker Ridge Road and belonged to that John Cheever group of eccentric intellectuals that had a little extra money, mostly from prior generations, and a lot of time on their hands. My grandparents and John Cheever used to write letters to each other in the voices of their Labradors. Seriously. My grandfather had the mother, Sadie ("one of the great Labradors," he would say in his Brahmin accent), and Mr. Cheever had the daughter, Cassiopeia. Dogs are important in my family. But in addition to dogs my grandparents also had a raccoon, Conney, who would sit on one's shoulder during drinks and beg for scotch-coated ice cubes; a toucan; a sheep named Elizabeth; and, for a short time, two lion cubs. It sounds like they were vets or they lived on a farm, or they were nuts, but really they just loved animals and birds. The house that my mother grew up in was big and white with lots of lawn. They had a mimeograph in the living room that my grandmother Mimi knew how to operate and, as a family, they created The Quaker Ridge Bugle, which was later printed as a little local paper. My grandmother was an artist. She mainly painted and drew birds. My brother Andrew and I now have them on our walls. I remember her as very beautiful but thin. She wore long braids and black socks with sandals. She and my grandfather, who was a photographer among other things, lived in Guatemala later in their life, so I remember her shrouded in lots of brightly colored striped ponchos. In her day, though, she looked like a fey Katharine Hepburn. Like my grandfather, she was from a nice old American family. She was an odd bird. She was an intellectual, a good writer of letters, and also was probably one of the first anorexics. She rebelled against her aristocratic, proper upbringing as much as she could by becoming an artist and leading a somewhat alternative life filled with books and chaos. She spent many hours in her studio alone, away from her children, whom she didn't really know what to do with. My mother, the eldest, ended up running the show a bit, which is probably why she is such an organizational dynamo now. "It sounds a little looney, and it was," my mother says.

Among the pictures Josiah hung on the bathroom wall was one of my father shaking hands at an Upper West Side street fair when he ran for New York City Council in 1977. He didn't win the election, but my memory of that is not as strong as my memory of his photograph plastered on the front of the Eighty-sixth Street crosstown bus that I took to school. I'll never forget the image of my father bounding toward me, his hand strongly gesturing forward, as I got out my bus pass. arch gillies city council at large. I thought he should have won. As far as I am concerned my father really should have been the president of the United States. He can see the big picture and he is fair. His grandparents were Scottish immigrants. His parents were of modest means but made a sturdy, dependable, nice life for their only son in Port Washington, Long Island. My grandfather was in the navy, and by hook or by crook, having never gone to college, he made his way up the ranks to rear admiral. When he found himself surrounded by other high-ranking officers he learned that they had all gone to something called boarding school. So he came home on leave one day and told my grandmother that they would only have one child, my father, and he would go to school at a place called Choate, a school in Connecticut where a colleague had gone. So my father, who thought he would do what all his other friends did, work at La Guardia Airport, was sent to Choate, which led him on a very successful path. His life took a different turn. He went on to Princeton, where he was on the student council and president of all the eating clubs. He helped change their policies so that all students were eligible to join the eating clubs. He has run things ever since. My parents met on Rockefeller's 1968 presidential campaign. He was the finance director and my mother was the office manager. At the end of the long days they would have a drink in the office together. "I had the scotch and she had the rocks," he would say as he gave my mother a wink.

Also among the sea of photographs was a snapshot of Josiah and his brother, ages four and five, leaning against their father, who was driving somewhere in the South -- not a seat belt on anyone. There was another of Josiah's mother, Julia, holding hands with her husband, John, Josiah's stepfather, whose other hand was linked in a chain with four children. One of the children was an eight-year-old Josiah. They were walking across a lawn in Palm Beach in crisp white shorts and brightly colored Izods. Everybody matched.

There were old framed Christmas cards from both of our families -- lots of gangly, long-haired boy and girl teenagers standing in front of various mountains in Georgia and on rocky beaches in Dark Harbor, Maine. Both of us have parents who had been married more than once, so we both have an array of step and half and real siblings that we love very much. The titles that came before the word brother or sister never mattered much.

There was a black-and-white picture of my girlfriends from high school at a Grateful Dead show in Providence, Rhode Island. The slightly curved picture in the frame gave away the fact that I had developed it myself in a photography class at RISD. And there was one of Josiah in a crew shell at his boarding school looking focused. Josiah often made fun of the fact that he was positioned in the middle of the boat to serve as weight, the "meat," rather than being placed in the front as the coxswain, the "brains" of the boat, who navigates the race. Out of the eight rowers, though, Josiah was the one who stood out. When someone in the picture looks like Adonis, it's hard not to notice.

There was a large silver framed picture of me and Josiah walking down the aisle on our wedding day. We got married at Christmastime. I wanted the wedding to feel like a New York Christmas party, so there were paperwhites everywhere. We ate chicken potpie and coconut cake. And then there were many, many photographs of our three boys. Josiah had a son, Ian, from his first marriage, whom I met when he was three. Ian lives in Texas with his mother and is the spitting image of Josiah, dark curly hair and almond eyes that remind me of a sparrow. My favorite picture of him is in black and white and was taken on a pristine beach in the South. It's almost annoying it's so beautiful, but he is wearing a T-shirt with a fierce shark on it that makes the whole thing palatable. Josiah and I have two boys, Wallace, age three on the day that Josiah was bathroom decorating, and James, who was sixteen months old. Both names were in our family trees, but Wallace we came to because we were watching Braveheart while I was pregnant. Like I said, I am Scottish. The boys are fair, their coloring more like mine. Josiah is dark. I think of Wallace as the sun: bright, vibrant, and warm and James as the moon: round, steady, and funny. James even likes colder baths. Wallace, like me, wants to be scalded.

We had been hauling all these pictures around with us in boxes. One reason for that was because Josiah was an English professor and we had moved from one college town to another for a number of years. The other was because we were both pretty big WASPs and in our worlds it was looked down upon to have too many beautiful pictures of one's own family ostentatiously displayed in frames around the house. My mother said it was okay to have small framed pictures on your personal desk (she gets everything printed in 3 5 5), but anything more than that was showy and, as she would say, "too much." I always felt sort of sad about this, that there wasn't more evidence of our happy family around for people to see -- but I never questioned it. Most of the advice and direction my mother gives I take, but there are a few things I have thrown in the garbage. The picture thing I followed like a good girl, but my mother also thinks cars should be spotless; I like mine to look like my purse. She has shoe polish in brown, black, cordovan, and white and all the brushes and flannels to use them. I have never bought a can in my life. Josiah felt the same way as my mother did about framed pictures. He thought it was embarrassing and silly to take up space with big goopy silver frames filled with frozen happiness, so that he did what he did in the bathroom was mind-blowing.

I am from New York and Josiah is from Florida, where his mother and stepfather lived, and Georgia, where his father and stepmother lived. And although he feels like a northeastern guy, mostly because he went to boarding school in New England at age thirteen, actually he is 100 percent southern.

We were living in Oberlin, Ohio, because Josiah was teaching poetry at the college. Oberlin is a funky, tiny, political, young hot spot in the middle of northeast Ohio that vibed New York City to me a lot because most of the students who went to Oberlin College were from the East Coast if not New York City itself. But it was in Ohio -- and it was rural and it was minuscule. A faculty member said that in the summer, when the students were gone, it felt like living in Central Park with no people -- and that was kind of right. For the record, I absolutely loved it.

We had gotten the job (in academics you end up saying "we" even if it actually isn't "we," because you move around so much together from job to job that one person slowly loses his or her identity) right after I gave birth in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to our son James Thacher. Because of our chaotic life with a two-year-old, a newborn, a dog, and two cats, I ended up not going out to Ohio to check it out before we moved. I had faith in my dream of a bucolic, happy, secure, academic life. It's a great, great dream if you have it in your head right. Here's what was in my head. I had married a very good-looking (think Gregory Peck), brilliant (most people hate the word brilliant to describe a person, but I frankly can't think of any other word to do it -- at our wedding Josiah's best friend described his brain as a cathedral) childhood friend that I had re-met at his sister's wedding in Maine. As six- and seven-year-olds we had sailed in little bathtub boats on the Penobscot Bay together, but at the time of his sister's wedding he was getting his Ph.D. in poetry at Harvard and I was being a New York girl in New York. I had not seen him in fifteen years. He was Heathcliff with an earring. It sounds romantic to be married to an actual poetry scholar, but truthfully he never recited poetry to me much or wrote me a poem. It's hard to admit, but I don't really like poetry or jazz. I just don't get it a lot of the time. If someone (and Josiah once in a blue moon would do this) teaches me through every line of a poem I can get it, but it's rare that it hits me in the gut the way a Rolling Stones song does, or the unfinished Pietà that I saw in Florence when I was fifteen. Right at the start of our love affair he did give me one of the only poems I do recognize as sublime, a John Ashbery poem called "At North Farm."

We fell in love in two hours at that wedding on a rare night so foggy it felt like when I was a girl in the 1970s, when it seemed to be foggy all summer. Maine has lost a lot of its fog.

The day after Sarah's wedding was the same day that Princess Diana died in a car crash in Paris. I had hardly slept during the night. I think sudden love fills you with adrenaline, making it impossible for your body to function properly. I heard the news of the princess's death in the morning, but because of my giddy excitement about Josiah, I didn't give myself a chance to take in the sad news until a few hours later when I drove over to meet him for a walk. When I was paused at the stop sign at the end of our road, a wave of grief came over me and I cried for Diana. She was so young, but just that much older than me that I was always taken by her, like you are with your very best, prettiest babysitter. It didn't even occur to me then that she had such small children. Sixteen years earlier, my mother and I had gotten up at four in the morning to watch Diana and Prince Charles get married. When she died she was at the start of something new, like I was then.

For those first three days of September, Josiah and I walked and sat on the beach for hours and talked about what had happened during the years we had missed each other. (It turned out that during his twenties he avoided many summers in Maine. His first wife didn't like it up there so much.) He cooked salmon for me one night and mushroom pasta another. Salmon and mushrooms are the only two foods in the world I don't like. I confessed to him I wasn't nuts about salmon, wanting to be honest, but the next night I ate the mushrooms, not wanting to seem fussy. We went sailing in his parent's 12 (a small, pretty wooden boat) and kissed every chance we got. When it was time for us to go back to our lives, we sat on the rocks at the ferry dock with our datebooks and a thermos of tea Josiah had brought. We planned every single weekend of the upcoming fall. One weekend he would drive down in his white Subaru station wagon to New York. (I was living in Williamsburg in an apartment that had the largest rosebush in the United States. The curator of the botanical gardens came to prune it himself it was such a treasure.) And the next I would take Amtrak up to Cambridge to stay in his apartment, where he allegedly had roommates, though I never met them, and four cats, whom I did meet. I was casually dating an architect, but Josiah told me to stop immediately because I was his now and he was mine. I was flooded with love. He was forceful ("I am going to make you dinner tonight and then we will play Scrabble"; "I will call you at two thirty and if you aren't there I'll try every minute after until you are") and passionate -- we had sex for the first time on a rocky beach in the middle of the day. He was a better cook than I am, and when he was ready to serve the meal, the kitchen was almost spotless. At twenty-eight, he had been married and divorced already, something that should have been a red flag, but instead I saw him as fearless and romantic.

He and his first wife, Samantha, were married right out of Yale, so young that it was easy for me to write it off as a mistake. I even ignored the red flag that he had left her when she was pregnant to fool around with Edith the weirdo (who ended up plaguing me throughout our marriage). His wife moved to her family's house in Dallas, where she stayed, had the baby, divorced Josiah, and later married a really nice lawyer with white hair. Josiah went religiously every month to see his son. It all felt a tad complicated, but it didn't matter to me because I knew how much he loved me. He was nuts about me. It was one of those times that you feel no need to eat, but do together constantly in sexy restaurants, making out after until they close. I felt suddenly grown-up. He knew me everywhere. He knew me at every time of my life. He knew my parents and I his for our entire lives. I felt seen and understood and accepted. He said he wanted to be by my side forever and there was nothing I could do that would ever make him go away. I had met the man I was to have a big, big future with and he knew it and wanted it even more than I did. On the eleventh day after his sister's wedding, in my kitchen, he told me he was in love with me and three weeks after that we had a big conversation in the Public Garden in Boston and he said that Octavia was a name he always loved if we ever had a girl. I had always thought that Octavia was one of the great names. There was no way in the world I could have escaped this love. It devoured us both.

We met each other's friends and cooked together and started fighting almost immediately. Our first fight was in Maine during the long Columbus Day weekend. We got in a fight about the fact that he had four cats that he had collected in his first marriage -- four cats. The fight started slowly, but got heated and scary fast. It shocked me to fight so passionately with someone other than my mother (who during one of our fights when I was a teenager took a pair of shoes out of her closet, gave me one, and instructed me to throw it as hard as I could at the wall, and she threw the other one) that it sort of turned me on, but on the other hand I was pretty frightened of how strong the feelings were from both of us. We knew we had to work it out, though, because we were so in love that one fight or one thousand was not going to stop us. Neither one of us was going to say, Hold on, this feels insane, let's throw in the towel! So we started making chicken curry.

"All I meant to say was that, well, doesn't it seem obvious that your marriage was failing and you guys just kept getting more and more cats? Hoping that each one would fix the problem?" I said, using my best shrink language. We measured cumin.

"It's useless to equate a cat, a living thing -- all of whom are very real and meaningful to me, I should reiterate -- to a Band-Aid, no matter how convenient it might be for you. The fact is I have four cats," he said, shredding chicken.

"But I can't live in a New York apartment with four cats! Nobody would. There are all sorts of clichés that only crazy, lonely people live with multiple cats. And I love animals so I don't want to come out of this looking like some sort of animal rejecter," I said, now crying over simmering stock.

"You aren't an animal rejecter, but you must look at the reality of my life," he said, chopping the coriander.

"I can live with two cats," I said, and handed him the pepper mill.

"Well, I have four." He peppered.

We didn't solve it then but by the time the rice was done and the Major Grey's chutney was on the table we had stopped the bad fighting and decided since we were not moving in together yet (we had just met), we would "shelve" it until later. We were made up. We called it "The Working It Out Curry." I really thought we were smart to be able to get through a fight and make dinner at the same time.

But I digress. Starting this story with the lining-the-bathroom-walls-with-family-photos event is really what I wanted to do. Five years after we re-met, we had ended up in Oberlin -- in a big 1877, redbrick house we never could have afforded on the East Coast. It was our second year in Ohio. Before we bought the house on Elm Street we had lived for a year in a rented faculty house, but when we saw "Bricky," as we called it, we could not help but buy it and renovate it into our dream house. We spent all our money and took out a home-equity loan for William Morris wallpaper and a new water heater. I wish I had a picture because I'll never be able to write how great it was.

My favorite thing that I still miss was a window seat I had put in the kitchen. When my parents built a country house in Connecticut, the architect said to my mother that teenagers will never talk to you unless your back is facing them, so put a sitting place behind the stove. Then they can lounge the way teenagers do while you cook, and apparently all sorts of their deep, dark life secrets will come out because they are not making eye contact with you. My mother insists to this day that the architect was right because according to her, we would hang out, all leggy and intense, and blab away while she made shirred eggs. Remembering that, I designed a little window seat to the side of the stove, perfect for Wallace and James to slump on when they were teenagers and I was cooking our supper. When you sat on it you looked up at these really old, tall pines that hugged that side of the house.

We had been living there for a week. I was downstairs unpacking endless serving dishes his mother had given us. Julia, Josiah's mother, is one of the all-time most generous women. She wants her children and those who love them to have anything they ever desire. If you say you might need a serving tray or two for your new house, you will undoubtedly get at least six, and they will come wrapped in six rolls of paper towels, and sheets and sheets of bubble wrap, all bound by so much packing tape it will take you a half hour to cut through. She is from the deep South, as beautiful as Grace Kelly and thorough beyond belief. If she hadn't ended up married to a man (Josiah's stepfather) who traveled a lot and required a wife to run the household, I am positive she would have headed up NASA or MIT. She is a whiz at math.

Wallace ran in and out of the front door and James played with a lemon in a cardboard box. Josiah was upstairs ripping into boxes, hauling books into the guest room, but when I heard the clacking around of picture frames and spinning of measuring tapes my interest perked up. Leaving young James alone in the box -- something ill advised that one always ends up doing in a multifloored house -- I climbed the terrifyingly steep staircase and peeked into the bathroom. Josiah was on the floor, surrounded by all of our life in frames. "I'm hanging these in here," he said. I was so amazed and touched that I just left the house with the boys on a made-up trip to Home Depot in the neighboring town, which I would surely get lost trying to find. I was wholly in love with my life: two healthy children, a brilliant, tall (my father is tall and my mother when describing someone she approves of mentions if he or she is tall) professor husband who was carefully placing the evidence of our happy family all over the bathroom walls so everyone could see. When I came back, there in the main upstairs bathroom, was a love letter to our family, and to me. Frame after frame of generations of us, our people, and the little ones we made. It was security and peace, and everything I had always wanted.

Josiah left me and the boys a month later for a new member of the faculty. A female professor in his department hired to teach eighteenth-century English literature.

Copyright © 2009 by Isabel Gillies

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 56 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Sad and touching but rewarding to read

    You feel like an intruder to one of the most intimate parts of a person's life: their divorce. Its touching in the way that the author can admit that she had a part in the dissolving of her marriage. She doesn't demonize the man who left her and their sons. She just tells it like she experienced it. Honest and beautiful.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 29, 2009

    Completely Riveting!

    This book captured my attention from the very first page. It is a riveting story that you feel guilty enjoying so much. I literally finished this book in 24 hours.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 27, 2009

    Needs Order

    I couldn't finish this book becuase the writing was all over the place, not even in a creative way. I am very happy with my husband we have been together for 11 years and i was hoping this book might shed light on things not to do, but it turns out the guy is just scum and pretty much did the same thing to his first wife. She should have seen that red flag and ran before having kids with him. Not intersting at all, just sad on many accounts

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Gut Wrenching Depiction of the Demise of a Marriage

    Isabel Gillies chronicles in absorbing detail the unraveling of her "perfect" marriage and life. As she struggles to reconcile the idea of her perfect life to the reality of it, she endures many soul crushing moments but soldiers on at times bravely and at other times with a blind eye to the reality of her situation. The title of the book says it all. Infidelity and divorce happen everyday but when it happens to you, it is a lonely, desperate, isolating experience. Isabel nails the experience dead on.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 29, 2009

    Great ideas, bad delivery

    I heard an interview on NPR and thought this would be a good read. After the first few pages I realized the writer had no skills coordinating thoughts, some paragraphs were over a page long! She begins with a brief history of her impressive family which fails to bear any relavence on her current situation. She flip flops all over the place after that. Her style shows potential for a writer, her editor/advisor did her no justice assisting in idea organization.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 16, 2009

    Okay I didn't like "Sylvia"..then.....

    at the end I discovered you actually are friends now. What a bust I read this whole book where I too started to dislike the women who doesn't know how to respect another women's family...then after reading without putting down, only to find at the end you and "Sylvia" are best buddies felt like somewhat had just SLAPPED me...I am tearing that page out before I lend it to my friends....

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 1, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved this book!

    Isabel says in the beginning "I am not a writer...but I have been told I write good emails". That sets the tone for this warm compelling book....the story unfolds like shared confidences between friends over a glass of wine. It is based on her life experience....great marriage, beautiful home, wonderful husband, good friends.

    Opps......turns out the husband has the attention span of a gnat and falls in love with Isabels "friend" in the blink of an eye. He and the "friend" both lie and drive her batty...the divorce is all her fault he would have her believe. Liar Liar. Anyone who has been divorced, been left by a faithless man,is going thru a divorce or is a single mother can totally relate to her story.

    The book is not all pain, it is about moving on even when you just want to crawl up into a ball and fade away. Her family, friends and beautiful boys get her through. Isabels words are so descriptive.....she sets the stage well. For an untrained writer the story is lively, interesting and well paced.

    Whoever wrote the "OMG he left her" review is obviously either "the other woman" type, a borderline personality, or really young with no life experience. This is a warm witty book...I read it in one sitting and have recommended it to both my siters and my 3 best friends.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2009

    A Compelling Read

    Reading Isabel's book is like having a cup of coffee with your best friend. Isabel takes you on her journey with pathos and wit. An easy read that will evoke many emotions.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    OMG, the guy dumped her

    If you like 'dissing my kids' father in public because he cheated on me just like he did to his first wife' types of literature, this book is a quick, easy read. Brought the old saying about a 'woman scorned' to mind. Occasional gratuitous use of F-word that may/may not make it into the final version. Wouldn't bother reading it again and am thankful the copy I read was free. <BR/><BR/>I liked the character she played on TV.

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 27, 2009

    Read Straight Through

    Am currently in a horrendous divorce with a man who left me because he prefers men and is still lying about it. I could relate to Isabel's feeling crazy and wanting to know the truth. I appreciated her truthfulness in revealing the things she did such as confronting other people about what was going on with her husband. The entire book made sense to me and I could relate to everything she wrote and understood why she included it in her story. Her ex is a scum for what he put her through by not telling the truth. He is lucky she forgave him. I will not forgive my husband for the long list of lies he told, the 3 years he has put me though hell and the devastating effect it has had on my children who are now teenagers and old enough to understand. We still are not even divorced.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2009

    Thank you...

    I am so thankful that such a raw and emotional story was laid out on the table. With divorce comes shame,self-doubt and a huge amount of grief that it so difficult to express. Some may feel that the beginning of the book was all over the place...run on paragraphs and thoughts...but she wrote the story exactly how her life felt at the time. Divorce creates a mess of thoughts and run on paragraphs. Divorce and infidelity can make your feel, look, seem and act crazy. I am thankful because in a sense she told my story as well. After reading this book I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I think it took a lot of courage to share this story.
    Thank you.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 6, 2009

    A little boring

    I was drawn to this book as I also went through a divorce where my husband had an affair and left me for another woman. I also was like her in the fact that I didn't want to let go of my husband and just couldn't believe that he was willing to throw a life together away for another woman. But the story was a little boring even though I could relate to her feelings and what she went through. I will read books again if I really enjoy them. This one I would not read again or recommend.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A shocking betrayal

    I have read so many memoirs but this one really got to me. To be so in love with your husband, to be at the start of your marriage and family life and have your whole world simply collapse. It was terrifying to witness. I actually read my husbands emails with sweaty palms (he's clean)! It is disturbing to think that a man you love and trust and have recently made babies with can just fall in love with someone else and just like that it's all gone. Truly a cautionary tale.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 20, 2009

    An Amazingly honest view into a marriage

    This is a can't put down read- Isable Gillies takes you into an intimate look at the break down of a marriage. This is an amazingly insightful view into what really happens behind closed doors. it will take your breath away.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    The first page I was debating whether or not to read this book. Then after the first chapter I was addicted, finished in about 3 days. It was great to hear her story and I defintely was NOT expecting it to be such a great book. BUY THIS!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 23, 2009

    Easy Read but somewhat disturbing to me personally

    I bought the book on a whim when I read what it was about and it was based in Ohio (near where I live). I have been through the first bad marriage with indiscretions..and happily into my 2nd and final marriage. For some reason while it was an easy read, it actually disturbed me in the way she comes across as knowing what is up and not dealing with it. While I believe the husband is at fault not the woman (Sylvia) I think I would have had to say something sooner and while I wouldn't waste my time being angry and getting revenge (publishing a book took care of that) I also wouldn't waste my time being "friends", necessary acquaintances is necessary because of the kids, but the term friend wouldn't cross my lips.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2009


    Reading Isabel's book is like sharing a cup of coffee with her. She tells you her innermost feelings and makes lemonade out of lemons. Her book is an inspiration to anyone who has felt in dispair after a partner leaving. A wonderful, easy read! I loved this book!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2009

    A compelling one night read.

    This book was hard to put down. Some of the novice writer elements were mildly annoying, but overall, the conversational tone and pace were excellent and absorbing. I just could not stop reading it. Ms. Gillies has a good eye for her own foibles, life's meaningful small details and her marriage's minor pre-breakup strains, and she affectingly describes her humbling efforts to keep it all together. While I could not shake my own feeling of being pissed off at her pathetic 'friend' and her uncommunicative husband, and my worry that she lowered herself to bear the brunt of the whole thing, I am glad for her that she feels at peace with their complicated relationship today. She is a better person than I fear I'd be.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Best book I've read in a while

    I started reading this book and couldn't put it down. I also couldn't stop talking about it with my friends and family. Gillies's writing is fabulous. She is thoughtful and honest - often putting herself on the line. This is one of the best books I've read in a while. Don't miss it!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 11, 2012

    My reaction... Insightful, well-written, but still a very easy r

    My reaction... Insightful, well-written, but still a very easy read. A lot of honesty - the kind that comes with personal growth. Read it. I recommend it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 56 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)