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To Have and to Hold
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To Have and to Hold

3.9 126
by Jane Green

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What happens when your Prince Charming turns out not to be so charming after all? In To Have and To Hold, bestselling author Jane Green offers a sizzling, highly entertaining look at romantic relationships after we say “I do.”

Alice knows she should be happy. A charming twenty-eight-year-old with a successful catering business, she


What happens when your Prince Charming turns out not to be so charming after all? In To Have and To Hold, bestselling author Jane Green offers a sizzling, highly entertaining look at romantic relationships after we say “I do.”

Alice knows she should be happy. A charming twenty-eight-year-old with a successful catering business, she’s always dreamed of a rose-covered cottage in the English countryside, filled with children and animals and home-cooked meals. Her favorite attire is comfy jeans, her best manicure features garden dirt under the nails. But when her teenage crush—the wealthy, dashing man-about-town Joe Chambers—wants to make her his bride, Alice is more than willing to play Cinderella to Joe’s prince. Never mind that he wants her to change—a diet, ice-blond highlights, stilettos, snooty gallery openings—and that he’s allergic to nature and kids. She tells herself she’s happy to sacrifice for love, and besides, with Joe’s stunning good looks and high-profile career at a top financial firm, every woman in London wants to be in her shoes.

But that’s just the problem. Despite Alice’s efforts to be the perfect wife, Joe soon reveals a penchant for being hopelessly unfaithful. When a notorious indiscretion with a female colleague forces Joe to transfer to New York, Alice’s life turns upside down. As Joe continues to sneak around, and her best friend’s beau offers a tempting glimpse of what real love could be like, Alice must decide how much Cinderella she can take before her deepest desires win out—and if she can summon up the courage to find real happiness on her own.

Delicious, witty, and packed with sparkling sex appeal, To Have and To Hold is an unputdownable read that will have you rooting out loud for its endearing heroine. A #1 bestseller in Britain, this latest tale from the beloved, utterly winning Jane Green proves that the search for true love doesn’t always end when someone dons a veil, and offers a lively, refreshing take on modern marriage.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for To Have and To Hold

“Green is the queen of the chick lit literati—her books are just so damn readable.…for sheer enjoyment, To Have andTto Hold can’t be beaten.”

“A deftly humorous and insightful take on modern marriage.”

“As ever, Jane Green whips up a sparkling morality tale that points the finger at bad boys and low rent romance.”
—The Independent

“A compulsive read, with women you can’t help rooting for.”
—New Woman

Publishers Weekly
In bestselling British novelist Green's sixth novel, a less-than-perfect London marriage disintegrates stateside. Alice loves her husband, the dashing Joe Chambers, even though he works late and travels a lot-he can be so wonderful (when he's around) and she still can't believe he picked mousy little her. (Of course, he transformed her into a blonde-highlighted, Jimmy Choo-sporting sophisticate first.) Blind to Joe's incessant philandering-even after an office sex act gets him banished to New York-Alice accepts his guilt gifts and hopes for the best. She doesn't want to leave her London life, but she's always loved nature and the rustic life, so Joe buys, in addition to a Manhattan apartment, a house in fictional Highfield, Conn. As the prologue warns, it's not just any house; it belonged to (fictional) 1930s writer Rachel Danbury, whose novel The Winding Road blew the lid off the town with its saga of infidelities. "Does history repeat itself?" Of course! Green tracks, in great detail, Joe's further infidelities, Alice's dissatisfactions, their fights and reconciliations; she also dips into the POVs of Josie Mitchell (Joe's lover) and Emily, Alice's best friend. Alice is mostly sympathetic, but for someone who thinks of herself as "a post-feminist child of a feminist," she sure bends over backward to please the snake she married. The one plot twist, involving Emily and her beau, Harry, is sweet but predictable. Green's style relies heavily on exposition, and while her prose is clean, her story is padded-kind of like one of those sexy bras that rat Joe likes. 6-city author tour. (May 18) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
English rose Alice moves to New York with her breathtaking but swinish husband, and while he's busy being unfaithful, she rediscovers herself by fixing up their new country home in Connecticut. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Mousy woman weds philandering jerk. A lackluster array of supposedly sophisticated characters fall in and out of love and marriage in Green's uninspired sixth outing (a "#1-bestselling blockbuster novel in Britain," we're told). Alice Chambers is a shy but successful caterer who's romanced by Joe, a good-looking womanizer: he's oh-so-amused by her essential innocence and what passes for self-deprecating wit about terribly important things like expensive footwear that pinches ("Bloody Jimmy Choos"). Airheads on both sides of the Atlantic will be impressed by heaps and heaps of brittle oh-darling dialogue and brand-name-y prose, plus a general sense of throwaway fabulousness that would bring a chilly smile even to Anna Wintour's narrow lips. Joe and Alice move through a slice of Manhattan that's as thin and unreal as they are-from Bergdorf's on 57th St. to the posh Vietnamese eatery Le Colonial a few blocks south, and that's it, though Wall Street is mentioned once or twice. (That's where Joe does something with money, darling.) Throwaway fabulousness, however, does not come cheap. Joe prefers New York for female-fondling escapades, but Alice flees to Connecticut and takes up gardening, finding comfort in fluffy puppies and vicarious adultery, thanks to women writers. Her carelessly elegant attire escapes the dreaded Westport effect-no navy plaid skirts and boiled-wool blazers for our Alice-as Diesel jeans and muddy Wellies get her noticed. Or is it actually her trim tummy and newfound self-confidence? And what about Joe, who's worried about getting his bunny boiled by an out-of-control mistress? Oh, darling, it's all so ironic. And all written in the present tense, too . . . . Come back,Jemima J (2000)!Agency: Gelfman Schneider Agency

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Read an Excerpt


24 December 1996

Alice takes a deep breath as she opens the wardrobe door and pulls out her dress. She lays it carefully on the bed, gathering her shoes, her veil, her stockings and garter, draping them gently next to the dress, amazed that in just a few hours' time she will be wearing all of this. In just a few hours' time she will be Joe's bride.

"Here comes the bride," she sings to herself, taking small, gliding steps down her hallway into the kitchen, smiling despite the butterflies, putting on the kettle to make herself another cup of coffee. She thinks she needs the coffee to stay awake, so badly did she sleep last night, but the adrenalin is already pumping, and she's waiting for Emily—her maid of honour—to arrive, someone with whom she can share the excitement.

Walking back into the bedroom, she stands for a while gazing at the dress. While not exactly what she would have chosen, she can't deny its beauty, how elegant it is, how impossibly stylish.

Alice had always thought she would have a country wedding. She dreamt, even as a little girl, of a small stone church; of walking through a white wooden gate in a soft, feminine puff of a dress, fresh flowers in her hair and a posy of hand-picked wild daisies in her hand. The groom had been unimportant: her fantasy had ended at the church door, but she knows the groom—even in her fantasies—would never have been as handsome, or as successful, as Joe.

At university, when she and Emily sat up late into the night discussing their knights in shining armour, Alice said she thought her ideal man would probably be an artist, or a craftsman, or a gardener. She had laughed as she said it, laughed at the unlikeliness of any lasting relationship, let alone marriage, given that her longest relationship at that time had been three weeks.

And before meeting Joe, her longest relationship had been three months. Not a good record, she had groaned to Emily when they were both planning on growing old together. "Means nothing," Emily had reassured. "Once you find him you'll be married for life. Me? I'll probably get divorced after six months." Alice had laughed, but even as she laughed she was thinking she wished she could be more like Emily, Emily who didn't want to settle down, who was quite happy flirting and flitting from one boy to the next, who claimed to have been born with a fatal allergy to commitment.

So a country wedding with a group of smiling toddlers (she had hoped that by the time she got married, if she ever got married, someone somewhere would have been able to provide the smiling toddlers) throwing down a blanket of rose petals and giggling as they walked up the aisle behind her.

She had envisaged a sea of straw hats and floral dresses, the sun beating down on her bare arms as she emerged from the church hand-in-hand with her other half.

When Joe proposed, she had told him about her dream wedding, and he had smiled at her indulgently and said it was a lovely fantasy, but they couldn't possibly get married in the country when both of them lived in London, and anyway, didn't she agree that winter weddings were so much smarter? She didn't agree, but felt she had to, because after all, Joe was paying for it. Alice's parents didn't have a penny, and Joe was determined to have a wedding that he judged fitting for the head of the healthcare business in Mergers & Acquisitions at Godfrey Hamilton Saltz.

They would have a lovely old Bentley to drive them to the church (bye-bye Shire horses and lovely old carriage), she would wear a simple but elegant gown (so long cream puff of a dress), and a friend of his who was a jeweller would almost definitely lend her a stunning diamond tiara for her hair (see you later fresh flowers).

So Alice went through the motions of planning her wedding, but every evening would tell Joe of her decisions, and

every morning would have to phone florists, dressmakers, photographers, to inform them that actually, she'd discussed it with her fiance and the plans would be changing. Would they mind terribly, she would say, if instead of pretty mauve hydrangeas and tulips, they had dark red roses and berries, and not the dress she had designed with a tulle skirt to rival anyone in Swan Lake, but a sleek, simple sheath of a dress with long bell sleeves and a matching coat (Joe had flicked through some bridal magazines and showed Alice what would suit her), and so sorry, but actually they didn't want informal fun pictures as they had discussed, but formal family groupings that would take place during the reception.

Alice drains her coffee and steals a quick glance in the hall mirror to confirm what she already knows: deep bags under her eyes proving that last-minute nerves are not just an old wives' tale. Alice has spent the night tossing and turning, fear rising up in a wave of nausea, common sense trying to push it back down again. After all, isn't she the luckiest girl in the world? What woman would not want to marry Joe? Joe with his winning smile and easy charm. His broad shoulders and playful humour. Joe who could quite feasibly have married anyone he wanted, and he chose Alice. Alice!

Men like Joe did not usually look at women like Alice, or if they did, it was one quick, curious glance followed by instant dismissal, for the Alices of this world held nothing for men like Joe. The only child of adoring parents, he had been brought up to believe he was God (his mother's fault); to believe that every woman would fall in love with him (his mother's fault); and to believe that a woman's role in life was to do whatever Joe wanted (naturally, his mother again).

Even now, on her wedding day, Alice feels like she has to keep pinching herself. Thirty years old and used to unrequited crushes on men who never seemed to notice her, Alice didn't seriously think she'd ever find her other half. She might have had her dream wedding in mind, but in truth she was secretly convinced she would grow old with her cats, a kimono-clad spinster who would surround herself with eccentric people and end up living vicariously through her younger, prettier friends.

Alice has always thought of herself as rather plain. Everyone who knows Alice has always thought of her as rather plain. She was the shy, mousy girl in the playground who was always last to be picked for teams, and even then she knew she was only ever picked because it was a choice between her or Tracy Balcombe, and Tracy Balcombe had flat feet and B.O.

Alice was left until last because no one ever seemed to notice her. In the Lower IV she had become known as Wallpaper, a name that would be said with a snigger, although frankly it never bothered her. She quite liked the fact that she faded into the background, that she could watch her classmates and think her thoughts without anyone ever bothering her.

It only started to bother her when she discovered boys. Up until then Alice had been quite happy with her horses. Her rough book was covered with badly drawn pictures of horse heads, complete with hearts saying Alice loves Betsy, and Betsy 4 Alice, and her daydreams consisted largely of Betsy and Alice steaming ahead to victory in local gymkhanas.

But one morning the girls of Lower IV awoke to discover hormones raging through their developing bodies, and Alice found herself dreaming of Betsy less and less, and more of faded jeans and a cute smile that belonged to a boy named Joe at the boys' school round the corner.

They were on the same bus route, and Alice would stand in the newsagent's for what felt like hours, pretending to flick through magazines, waiting for Joe to arrive. She would stand behind him, staring at the back of his head, willing him to notice her, and although, once or twice, he clearly felt her gaze and turned to meet her eyes, there was not a flicker of interest and he turned away to laugh with a friend.

It was to become a familiar pattern. Throughout her twenties Alice fell head over heels for men who didn't notice her. Strong, handsome, confident men. Men who walked through life with an assurance that Alice coveted, that Alice hoped would somehow rub off on her if she got close enough, which she never managed to do.

Until she met Joe again.

She had known Joe for years. He had been a friend of Ty's—her older brother—at school, one of the boys on whom she had had a huge, and painful, crush. She remembered watching him chat up the prettiest girl in her school at a local disco, watched him laugh and smile with her, his face moving closer and closer as he leaned in for a kiss, before taking her hand and leading her out the door.

Rumour had it that he had gone back to her house, kissed her goodnight, then an hour later shinned up the drainpipe and stolen her virginity. It was the stuff of which legends were made, and Joe was, even then, a legend. At fourteen years old he was going out with a twenty-year-old Danish au-pair girl who lived round the corner. According to the boys in the class she was a cross between Farrah Fawcett and Jerry Hall.

Joe was responsible for a thousand broken teenaged hearts, and Alice and Emily would sit for hours and talk about how much they hated him, each of them secretly longing for him to notice them.

And then one day the doorbell rang, and Alice ran to answer it, nearly fainting when she discovered Joe standing on the doorstep. Her fifteen-year-old heart threatened to give way as a hot flush crept up her cheeks, staining them scarlet.

Joe had raised an eyebrow, amused. Not his type at all, but he liked to see the effect he had on women, it reassured him, made him feel secure, and what harm would it do to encourage her a little, it was only a bit of fun.

"Hello, Ty's sister," he smiled, his voice low and flirtatious. "You look lovely. Are you going somewhere nice?" It amused him to see her blush further, and still more to see she had quite literally lost the power of speech. Alice managed to mumble something, and stumbled away when Ty appeared. "Hey Joe," he said, grabbing his coat. "Hope you're not chatting up my sister," and they both laughed at how ridiculous that would be, as they disappeared up the path.

But Alice had been spun into a fervour. She had called Emily immediately, and Emily had come round to analyse, inspect and dissect every word. They had locked themselves in Alice's bedroom, each slumped on a beanbag, squealing with excitement as they went over and over the one sentence he had uttered, trying to understand what it meant.

"Say it again," Emily pleaded. "Tell me again what he sounded like when he said, 'You look lovely.' "

They formulated a plan of action. Worked out exactly what Alice would say to Joe when she next saw him, what tone of voice she would use, what she would wear when he took her out, because clearly, he was interested, and whether she would let him go to base one or base two on the first date.

Joe never noticed Alice again.

Fourteen years later Alice had a thriving catering business. She had finally managed to get over Joe and pass six O and two A levels, had gone to catering college, and from there to a year-long cookery course. At twenty-nine years old she had an occasional staff of three who helped her prepare and serve gourmet dinners for women too busy, or too lazy, to cook.

Alice tended to stay in the background at these dinner parties. She loved cooking the meals beforehand, but stayed in the kitchen making sure nothing got burned while the other girls served canapes and cocktails. Occasionally, should the host or hostess demand, she would come in to receive praise, reluctantly but graciously, smoothing back the loose curls that had escaped her pony-tail as she handed out business cards.

She had a small flat with a large kitchen in Kensal Rise, her two cats, Molly and Paolo, and a tiny social life thanks in part to the success of her business and in part to her natural shyness.

Her last relationship—the three-monther—had been with an actor called Steve, but three months of massaging the chip on his shoulder had taken its toll, and she was grateful when one of his auditions actually came to fruition and he took off to Manchester to do rep for three months. They promised to stay in touch, she would come up to visit, but she knew it was just a formality.

So there she was, in the kitchen of her dreams, in the basement of a large house in Primrose Hill. The kitchen was almost back to its pristine state, the plates stacked neatly in the dishwasher, the crystal goblets already draining next to the sink, and her casserole dishes cleaned and waiting in the boot of the car.

The guests were drinking espresso, with home-made petits fours, and Alice said goodbye to the two girls helping her out, knowing that the only thing left to do would be to wash up the coffee cups, and she could manage that perfectly well by herself.

"Oh, you must meet Alice." She heard the hostess banging down the stairs in her high heels. "She's an absolute angel, and the food's fantastic. Also," her voice dropped an octave or two, "not at all expensive compared to some of the others."

Bugger, thought Alice. Time to put my prices up. She grabbed a cloth to appear busy and practised smiling, a bright sparkly smile that would invite more business, quickly polishing the granite worktops as she heard the footsteps come into the room.

"Hello Alice," said a voice that she would have known anywhere.

"Hello Joe," she said, the smile replaced with a deep scarlet flush.

Joe walks up to greet his ushers, who all crowd round him in a conspiratorial huddle.


"Did you do it?"

"Was she worth it?"

"Could you resist?"

"Bloody better have been worth it, the amount we paid."

"Didn't know whether you'd have the energy."

"So come on then, Joe, what was the like? Did you succumb?"

Joe smiles beatifically and raises a hand to quiet the masses. "Boys," he says, as they wait with bated breath. "It's my wedding day. Show some respect."

Meet the Author

Jane Green worked for many years as a journalist, with occasional forays into public relations for film, television, and the odd celebrity. The author of five other bestselling novels, including Straight Talking, Jemima J, Mr. Maybe, Bookends, and Babyville, she lives outside New York City with her husband and children.

Brief Biography

Westport, Connecticut
Date of Birth:
May 31, 1968
Place of Birth:
London, England
"Managed to drop out of Fine Art Degree at University."

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To Have And To Hold 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 126 reviews.
blevinsgirl More than 1 year ago
I LOVE Jane Green, and this book is just another example of why. Her characters make you fall in love with them, make you want to be their best friend, and make you feel a true loss when you finish the book and realize you have to say goodbye to these people. Grab a cup of tea, and build a fire, once you pick this book up you will be in it for the long haul...get comfy:)
jwheelzJW More than 1 year ago
I grabbed this book after seeing it on the shelves for a long time, reading some good reviews, the plot seemed interesting, and, to be honest, I thought the cover was interesting. It's not that this book was bad, I enjoyed the writing and the characters, I just couldn't get into it. I had to put it down and pick it back up several times in a span of two months which is rare for me if I find a good book. I think the main problem for me was that the book never had a moment that I was fully engrossed in it. It seemed to take a while to get anywhere. Lots of unnecessary details and slow moving. He kept cheating and reforming and cheating and reforming every chapter. It only really got exciting toward the end (although I really wanted her to tell him off) and by that time my opinion of the book had already been made. Overall everything was just okay. The characters were likable enough, I was mildly into the plot and what would happen next but nothing to write home about. I don't regret reading it but I wouldn't add it to my favorites. I would recommend it as a light summer read.
Marianna Bracco More than 1 year ago
I had so much fun reading this book! The characters become your buddies and you keep wonder what would happen w them after the book is done. Reallly entertaining
MYY More than 1 year ago
I couldn't even finish the book. It never really got interesting; cheating husband, they move to NY, husband keeps cheating. Blah blaah, I kept waiting for her to meet someone new but seriously took too long and it seemed as if it kept going in circles somehow, pretty much never-ending. When I pick up a book I always read it until the end whether I like it or not, but I just couldn't continue on with this one. "Straight Talking" was a far better book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Its my favorite Jane Green book by far! I dont see how anyone could give it a BAD rating. The Alice was sweet and trusting and her husband was a jerk. How can a man treat such a kind woman that way is beyond me but it is somthing that happens to many woman everyday! Its sad but its def a reality novel. It was a fast paced easy read. I reccomend it to any woman!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a lot of fun to read. I had a hard time putting it down and ended up reading it in 4 days. The author does a great job building the story, describing the characters and their personalities and painting their environment and surroundings. I found myself immediately rooting for the main character. I would recommend this book to anyone and I can't wait to read some of Jane Green's other books!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
feather_lashes More than 1 year ago
To Have and to Hold is a standalone, chick-lit novel written by author Jane Green. This story follows Alice and her seemingly "dream come true" life with her high school crush-now-husband Joe. How do you know if a relationship is healthy for you? Well I guess you would start off by not completely losing who you are in the process. Alice slowly comes to this realization as Joe's significant faults are discovered. However, Alice is not without her own faults, and her relationships with old and new friends are also integrated within this story as life comes full-circle for her. The plot of To Have and to Hold is not remarkable or life-changing, but I found it quite entertaining! Even with the frustration that comes with watching someone be wronged over and over again, Ms. Green ensures that her readers laugh and feel the comfort and satisfaction that comes with witnessing someone find the peace they so deserve. I really enjoyed this book and if you enjoy Jane Green's writing style, you'll likely enjoy it too! My favorite quote: "I saw it and thought you'd love it, and rose quartz is supposed to bring love into your life." Joe raises an eyebrow. "Sorry, Joe. I didn't mean a new love. It's just meant to make everything more loving I think. Not you, just, Oh God." Emily stumbles. "I think it is meant to make your life nice, OK?" "Oh Emily, stop being so silly. Whatever it's supposed to do, it's lovely. Help me put it on." Alice bends her head forward for Emily to do up the clasp. "Oh and the woman in the shop said you have to program it first." Emily adds as an afterthought. "You have to clean it by dropping it into water and vinegar, then leave it in direct sunlight for a day, then stare at it while you clear your mind and envision a clear white light going through it. Then it's yours and clean, but you mustn't let anyone else touch it or it'll become impure." "Emily," Joe says quietly. "Yes?" "When exactly did you lose your mind?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What happened to Ms. Green?... Book are substandard for the money see wants for her books........maybe some thing like the .99 cent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By same name?
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Don't waste your moneybor time.
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risuena More than 1 year ago
I don't think this is one of Jane Green's better books. The story could have conveyed the same message in fewer pages. I felt the story dragged like I got the point already, about the main character being submissive and her husband's unchanging ways. Harry's role in the story was predictable as was the ending. The things I liked reading about were how strong Alice's friendships were, how Josie got what she deserved, and how Alice became herself (stronger and more comfortable in her own skin which took forever). It was a realistic story, just hard to finish because of the repetition and I didn't care for the characters much.
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