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"An effortless page-turner, almost a movie treatment more than a novel...intelligent commercial fiction."The Wall Street Journal
After five years of marriage, Cass Coyne has lost some of her boundless confidence. Her husband sees their ups and downs as normal challenges in a healthy relationship, but Cass lies awake at night wondering what you do when you need a break from your marriage?
It comes as a shock to Jonathan when Cass persuades him to try a marital "intermission": a six-month separation during which they'll decide if the comfortable life they've built together is still the one they both want.
Six months apart from their beloved dog is a different story, so they agree to meet once a month for a custody exchange. Time apart on opposite coasts makes the Coynes realize their problems may lie deeper than sweaty gym socks left on the bed and an empty container of milk put back in the fridge.
Can a marriage experiment go too far for two people who once thought they had it all figured out?
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Elyssa Friedland is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School and lives with her husband and three children in New York City. The Intermission is her second novel.
Read an Excerpt
Excerpted from "The Intermission"
Copyright © 2018 Elyssa Friedland.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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Reading Group Guide
Questions for Discussion
1. How important is honesty in a marriage? Do you think small lies of omission are permissible in a happy marriage?
2. Do you think it is ever a good idea for a marriage to have an intermission period, and if so, under what circumstances?
3. Were you ever upset with Cass for how she treated Jonathan, or did you sympathize with her given her tough childhood and the prickly defense mechanisms she wears as armor?
4. Jonathan is initially shocked when Cass asks for the separation, but then he comes around quickly. Do you think he agreed that they needed time apart, or did he acquiesce because he didn’t want to upset Cass?
5. Cass and Jonathan’s marriage has problems at both the macro and micro level. Which partner do you think was more responsible for their daily frustrations with each other? Or was it all intertwined?
6. Who had the bigger secrets: Jonathan or Cass?
7. Why do you think Jonathan feels tormented about what happened in high school with Daniel?
8. How do you think Jonathan would have reacted to finding out that Cass had “stalked” him if she’d just told him in the beginning of their relationship?
9. What did Cass see in Marty? Do you think she was attracted to the power of his position or just looking for a total escape from Jonathan?
10. What impact did the dissolution of Dahlia’s marriage have on Cass, or did it have any impact at all?
11. What does Cass learn from living with Alexi?
12. 12 Do you think Jonathan treated Brett unfairly? Or was it unreasonable of her to expect more since she knew she was getting involved with a married man?
13. Did you feel that after the intermission Cass and Jonathan had a better understanding of each other and what makes their marriage work? Do you think they will be happier than they would have been without having taken an intermission?
14. How do you think Cass’s and Jonathan’s childhoods and upbringings affected them in similar ways? In different ways? What bearing did their backgrounds have on their outlooks on marriage?
15. Did you think Cass and Jonathan were going to divorce or get back together? Which outcome were you hoping for?
16. What do you think the future holds for Cass and Jonathan? Now that they are reunited, do you expect them to stay together forever?
17. What kind of parents do you think Cass and Jonathan will be?
18. Cass and Jonathan both felt they couldn’t live apart from Puddles for very long. Have you ever shared custody of something (other than a child) after a breakup? How did it go?
19. Can you think of a secret you’ve kept from your partner that has snowballed simply because you didn’t share it upfront?
20. What do you think are the most important elements for a successful marriage?
21. What does a successful marriage look like to you? What does it look like for Cass and Jonathan?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Well-written and enjoyable. The author had a good grip on handling the separation and made it seem plausible. I would read another from Ms. Friedland.
After years of a happy marriage, Cass Coyne begins to question the relationship that she has built with her husband, Jonathan. In the beginning, their budding romance was filled with many happy memories; but over the years Cass begin to feel as if their life was lacking the lust that they once had. Cass decides that a six month "intermission" might be the key to saving their marriage, and sets off on a trip across the country to discover herself. Both Cass and Jonathan adjust to their separate lives while sharing custody of their dog. They soon find that the distance between them might be causing more harm than good and their darkest secrets may soon be revealed. Will their marital intermission solidify that they are meant to be together until the end of time? Or will their once-happy life together be just a memory in the past? (I received a copy of The Intermission from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest review.) After reading almost two-thirds of The Intermission I decided that this novel just wasn't my forte. I felt that the history between Cass and Jonathan became very repetitive and the story contained a lot of "filler" information that wasn't needed to help the tale progress. This is a very lengthy novel that could have been reduced with by a lesser amount of the un-needed background information.
I have mixed feelings about this one. First of all, let me say the book is well-written and I would definitely read this author again. I especially enjoyed the way the ending was written to make you wonder what had been decided instead of just spitting it out. My problem with the story is that with two unlikeable main characters, I found myself ambivalent about whether they stayed together or not. They both seemed selfish and self-centered, and even knowing their back stories did not justify their ill-advised actions for me. That said, I will definitely be reading her debut novel now as I did enjoy her writing style. My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my review copy.
I like the idea of this book. The idea that marriage can get hum-drum boring is not a new idea. I am happily married and there are times that we have to shake it up some. That is what Cass wants to do. She needs to make sure that she is happy with her life before starting a family and committing to the rest of her life with Jonathan. Do I agree with her way? Nope, not even a little but I respect that she doesn’t want to start a family and then tear it apart if she is that unhappy that she cannot stay with her husband. The book is divided into three parts with alternating chapters between Cass and Jonathan. There were quite a bit of repetitive thoughts, a lot of talking about what might happen, what could happen, what should happen but yet not much happen. I struggle to connect with anyone in the story. Cass seemed to want the separation but then didn’t want Jonathan to find any happiness without her. Jonathan was a pushover. He couldn’t make Cass stay but yet gave in to every request she made without pushing for what he wanted. The premise of the story was interesting and the ending was predictable. I couldn’t not finish the book once I started reading because I had to know if Cass and Jonathan actually ended up together but it was slow reading for me.
Taking a Break from Marriage Cass and Jonathan appear to have everything in a marriage: good jobs, financial security, and a lovely New York apartment. They’ve been married five years and are discussing whether to have children, but Cass isn’t so sure they’re ready. Her childhood, divorced parents and financial insecurity, have something to do with it. She suggests a six month separation to test their commitment. Jonathan is surprised. Cass can be irritating, but he loves her. His wealthy family has given him more security, but in the end he agrees with Cass. She takes a job in Los Angeles. This puts them a continent apart the only real contact when they fly their dog back and forth for joint custody. I wasn’t impressed with either Cass or Jonathan. I thought she was selfish. Marriage isn’t easy. You have to try to communicate. Putting distance between you and your partner only leads to more problems. I liked Jonathan better. He seemed the more balanced of the two. His marriage wasn’t perfect, but he felt comfortable and didn’t want to change things. Both partners made regrettable choices when they were apart. Their story is told in alternating points of view which gives insight into each partner’s good and bad qualities. The novel is character driven with a thin plot. However, it’s a fast read and would make a good book to take on a vacation. I received this book from Net Galley for this review.
Cass and Jonathan Coyne have been married for 5 years and appear to have it all. But Cass feels like their marriage no longer has that exciting spark as it did when they were newlyweds. So she suggests to Jonathan they do a trial separation (aka intermission) for 6 months in which they are allowed to see other people. As the months pass, they both reflect on the secrets they kept from one another that contributed to the downfall of their marriage and contemplate whether this is a marriage worth saving. In order for this story to completely work for me, I really needed it to feature characters who I actually liked, instead at first Cass and Jonathan were just a tad unlikable but as the story progressed I found them to be pretty horrible people. One character in particular I really struggled to find any redeemable qualities. With that being said though, I still had an interest to find out what was going to happen with their marriage and the author did a good job keeping me on my toes with some twists within the story. I personally didn't enjoy the ending but I'm probably in the minority there. While I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend this book, I would check out future books by the author as she is talented at telling an interesting story. Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! All views expressed are my honest opinion.
Cass and Jonathan may have come from different backgrounds but fate brought them together-twice. Blissfully married and writing down bets how long they think the newlyweds will last at weddings, things are going well. Or so it seemed. Secrets build into the shape of an elephant in the room and Cass demands a six-month intermission from their marriage. Can they work through the secrets or has their marriage crumbled? The Intermission is told in alternating narratives flipping from Cass to Jonathan by chapter. This created two timelines which helped with the pace of the book, however, made the supporting characters' identities (and significance) confusing. Furthermore, neither Cass nor Jonathan are characters of integrity. They are both equally entitled, immature, manipulative, and narcissistic. Their characters do not develop throughout the book and the ending was irritating to me because it felt like their behaviors were excused without consequence. Additionally, the book seems to gloss over the importance of communication and mental health. On the other hand, the book is very well paced and it was easy to read quickly. The environments of Los Angeles and New York City helped distinguish the plotlines and the (albeit grandiose) "Puddles exchanges" helped with direction. I also did appreciate the several surprises sprinkled throughout the story. For those who may be triggered or offended, there were graphic sexual scenarios, foul language, divorce, miscarriage, graphic violence, cancer, and infidelity. Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided through the Penguin Random House First To Read Program in exchange for an honest review.