Gail. Hannah. Bridget. Lizzy. Flavia. Each of them has a shameful secret, and each is about to find out that she is not alone… Gail, a prominent Boston judge, keeps receiving letters from her husband's latest girlfriend, while her husband, a theology professor, claims he's nine-months sober from sex with grad students. Hannah, a homemaker, catches her husband having sex with a male prostitute in a public restroom. Bridget, a psychiatric nurse at a state hospital, is sure she has a loving, doting spouse, until she learns that he is addicted to chat rooms and match-making websites. Lizzy, a high school teacher, is married to a porn addict, who is withdrawn and uninterested in sex with her. Flavia was working at the Boston Public library when someone brought her an article that stated her husband had been arrested for groping a teenage girl on the subway. He must face court, and Flavia must decide if she wants to stay with him. Finally, Kathryn, the young psychologist running the group, has as much at stake as all of the others.
As the women share never-before-uttered secrets and bond over painful truths, they work on coming to terms with their husbands' addictions and developing healthy boundaries for themselves. Meanwhile, their outside lives become more and more intertwined, until, finally, a series of events forces each woman to face her own denial, betrayal and uncertain future head-on.
From author Sylvia True comes The Wednesday Group, a captivating, moving novel about friendship, marriage, and the bonds that connect us all.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.71(d)|
About the Author
SYLVIA TRUE was born in Manchester, England, and now lives in Massachusetts with her husband and dogs. She teaches high school. The Wednesday Group is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
The Wednesday Group
By Sylvia True
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Sylvia True
All rights reserved.
The wind howls, then quiets to a gray whisper. Lizzy pauses in front of the bedroom door holding a bottle of wine and two goblets. Her casual nightshirt shows off her long legs. If this marriage is going to survive, they need to reconnect.
She opens the door and stands at the foot of the bed. At fifty-two, Greg could still pass for thirty-five. He has a full head of dirty blond hair, a boyish grin, and healthy skin—no age spots, no circles under his brown eyes.
"Thought you might want some wine," she says.
"What kind?" He sits up a little.
She senses his hesitation and begins to pour.
"That's enough." He holds out his hand.
There's still plenty of time. He's always been a slow starter, although she'd thought that would change after he confessed.
"What are you watching?" She slides under the covers, not too close, but close enough so that he can easily touch her.
"Antiques Roadshow." A woven tapestry, an elaborate depiction of an old church, is displayed.
"How much do you think that's worth?" she asks.
"Don't know." Greg yawns loudly, a signal that he is not in the mood.
The small rejections build on one another. But she's not about to give up. After a few more sips of wine, she inches closer.
"Want to just talk awhile?" she asks.
Finally, he turns off the TV. She reaches for the cord on the closed shade behind her. A little moonlight would be nice.
"Leave it," he tells her.
She does, although she'd like to look into his eyes, to see if he really does want her.
He finishes his wine. "Maybe I'll have some more."
Her vision has adjusted enough to see the bottle. She refills both of their glasses, and they drink in silence. If she's too assertive, he's only going to feel pressured and withdraw. Eventually, he places his glass on the floor, then turns to her and runs his fingers, stiff and tentative, along her neck.
He holds her face, kissing her forehead, her nose, her lips. Her shoulders relax as he grows more forceful and moves a hand down her nightshirt.
"That feels nice," she tells him.
"Why don't you take it off?"
She pulls the shirt over her head, glad to be rid of it.
He cups her breast, and she gently slips her hand below his waist. He sheds his flannel pajama top. They hold each other. She's missed his skin touching hers, but after a few seconds, she senses his loss of urgency. She kisses his neck and begins to slide down. His thighs tense and he stops her.
"I'm sorry." He sighs.
"It's all right," she says, and moves back up.
He grimaces and squirms as he shifts her head from his shoulder. "A cramp in my arm," he tells her, then sits and gropes for his pajama shirt. After he puts it back on, he lies on his side of the bed.
Her chest aches. "Do the guys in your group talk about how they deal with sex ... after? I was thinking if it's an addiction, like alcohol, people have to talk about how they're going to deal with it when they're sober. You know?"
He responds by tapping the mattress with his hand.
She waits, trying to be patient. He clears his throat, as if that will help to dislodge the words that seem stuck.
"I thought," she begins, "when you stopped watching, you'd want me again."
"It's not that." His voice is tight.
She wishes she could do the wise thing, say good night and bring this up another day when he's not so defensive and vulnerable, and she's not on that boundary where rejection begins to harden.
"Then what?" she asks.
"It's ..." He's stuck again.
"Do you want me?"
"Lizzy." He slaps the mattress. "I've told you I do."
There, it's out. What she was begging for—yet it's not enough. "It doesn't feel like it when it's so hard for you to say it." She sits up and gathers her long, curly hair. She'd worn it down for him. "You told me when you stopped watching, things would change. And they haven't." The words are hot; anger slips out.
"Christ, Lizzy, we go over the same shit. Things have changed. I'm going to my groups and seeing a therapist. It's not going to happen overnight."
She isn't looking at his face, but she imagines he is sneering. "So how long will it be?"
"I can't answer that."
"What can you answer?" Her voice is louder than she intended.
"This is going nowhere." He sits up.
She can tell he's getting ready to leave, to sleep in the guest room.
"I didn't mean to yell. It's just hard sometimes knowing you'd rather be looking at young women on the computer than making love to me."
He flips back the covers. "Why don't you tell me what exactly it is you want me to say?"
"That you love me. That you want me and not them. That you think I'm pretty." She detests that she's sinking this low.
"I do tell you those things."
"Only when you want me to shut up."
He swings his legs off the bed. "I can't do this anymore tonight. I have to get up early."
She wants to extend an olive branch, to tell him she's willing to work through this, that she loves him. But she doesn't.
He walks to the door.
"Just tell me you aren't watching porn," she says.
He shakes his head. "I'm sorry I'm not changing fast enough for you." The door slams behind him.
Every cell in her body feels as if it's about to burst. She wants to follow him, to keep fighting until they reach some sort of resolution. But of course she knows they won't.
She curls under the eiderdown. The room smells like stale wine. The beginnings of a migraine nag at her temple. He'll be asleep in ten minutes, relieved to be away from her. She listens to the wind growl, hating him, hating herself more.CHAPTER 2
Hannah stirs an hour before her alarm clock is set to ring. Adam's snores remind her of a dolphin puffing as it comes up for air. She tries to fall back to sleep, but when she closes her eyes, she feels restless. A familiar unease weighs on her. The children are fine, life is good, but the sense of dread remains. In this state, neither asleep nor fully awake, she is less adept than usual at shoving away the feelings of despair. There is a leaky border between the subconscious and the conscious. A shower, a cup of hot coffee, and editing a few photographs will keep her occupied until it's time to get the kids up.
At breakfast, Hannah does Alicia's hair while she eats her Cheerios. Sam, who hates milk in his cereal, crunches. Hannah wraps an elastic at the end of Alicia's braid and kisses the top of her head. She has become skilled at knowing the right moment to slip in a squeeze or a pat.
She moves behind Sam, who inherited his thick brown hair from her dad. Hannah bends her neck, sniffing Sam's hair. The earthy scent reminds her of the first hint of spring.
Adam walks in, smiles at her, and pours himself a coffee. Until he's had two cups, he doesn't talk much. He's tall and well-built, with cropped red hair, and his light blue eyes are muted just enough so they always seem gentle.
He leans against the counter.
It's the fourth week in January, and the morning sun shines dully through the skylight. Hannah glances at her family, pulls up her shoulders and tells herself that she's going to stay positive and upbeat.
Adam smiles, softly, and she knows he feels the dip in her mood. He has mentioned she should get checked for seasonal affect disorder and believes the long New England winters are tough on her.
The kids finish their cereal, scamper off to get their backpacks, and head for the bus stop. Adam pours another cup of coffee, then reaches for Hannah, tugging at the arm of her sweatshirt to pull her in for a hug. She cozies into his chest and feels at home in his arms. She'd like to stay this way for a little longer, but he has to get to work, and she has things to do as well.
She steps away. "I'm fine," she says, as she picks up a couple of plates from the table.
After he leaves, she meanders to her studio and looks over a wedding album she has put together for a couple who are coming around noon. It's a good representation of her work, but nothing that really grabs her. In the last picture, the groom is carrying his bride as she waves to the camera. Funny, Hannah thinks, how this is what she ended up doing for a career, wedding photography, when her own wedding day had felt like the biggest farce of her life.
Leaving her studio, she walks through the roomy kitchen and down the hallway to the laundry room. Even this room has plenty of natural sunlight. She and Adam designed the house with lots of unique angles and dormers. A dream house, a dream life. And yet.
As she sorts the darks from the lights, she feels something, like a folded dollar bill, in a pocket of Adam's pants. She pulls out a business card, turns it over and sees a number with an area code she doesn't recognize. Certainly nothing alarming, yet her hands tremble. Even after all these years telling herself everything is normal, assuming those horrible episodes are long past, she can still think the worst. She reminds herself that his firm has clients from all over the country, but her heart beats erratically as she drops his pants into the washer and adds an extra cup of detergent.
In the kitchen, she picks up the phone. The dial tone drones. She begins to punch in Adam's number, but stops and hangs up.
The rest of the day passes in a hazy, panicked blur. Her clients come for their album, tell Hannah she's gifted, and write her a check. After they leave, she can't remember their names.
If he ever slipped again, she'd told him she would leave him. Slipped. What a stupid word for this. Slipped is when you lose your footing on the ice, when you forget your keys in the supermarket, when you hand in a field-trip form for one of the kids a day late. Slipping is not bulldozing your wife's life.
She calls her mother to ask if she can watch the kids tonight. After a few nosy questions, which Hannah evades, her mother agrees.
It's probably a futile plan. Actually, in truth, she hopes it's futile, and yet she finds herself dressing for the part. Old worn jeans, a heavy black sweater, her hair in a ponytail, and a modest amount of makeup, which she knows is ridiculous but can't help putting on.
She makes ravioli for the kids, helps with homework, folds the laundry. Adam's pants are at the bottom of the pile. Her mom arrives on time and raises her eyebrows when she sees how Hannah is dressed.
"I'm just hanging out at a friend's. No need to be fancy."
Hannah kisses everyone good-bye and slips on Alicia's furry pink Ugg boots, which are on the back doormat. In the car, she takes out Sam's Red Sox baseball cap from her purse and puts it on, along with her sunglasses, even though it's already dark.
Adam's office is down the hill from the State House. She drives around the block a few times before finding a space close to the parking garage he uses. She takes her phone from her purse and tosses it from one hand to the other. It would be so much easier, so much saner to just call. To ask. But what if he lies? And what if he tells the truth? Either way, she won't believe him. Trust is the most fragile thing in the world, and no matter how hard she's tried, or how hard they've worked, it's a canyon she can never quite make it across.
She slinks down when she spots him heading into the garage. Adam's car has a low, wide backside that's easy to follow. She stays a few cars behind. For a moment she's proud of her accomplishment, proud that she managed this whole scheme. Then the reality of why she's doing it intrudes, and her heart, which has been racing for the past hour, races faster.
It's fifteen degrees outside. The heat in the car is on low, and yet her palms sweat.
He turns onto Huntington Ave. He's not taking the Mass Pike.
What if he goes to some seedy hotel? Will she bang on the door of his room? She imagines his paramour, and her hand slips along the side of the wheel. She turns the heat down lower and opens the window. The air, dry and frigid, stings her neck.
The light ahead is yellow. She races through it. The car in front of her takes a right. Now there's just a VW between Adam and her. What if he sees her? She rolls the window down a little farther. If he sees you, tell him the truth. You're not doing anything wrong. But she feels wrong. Wrong, and confused, and scared. Scared to death.
It feels endless, the drive down Route Nine. Finally he takes a right into the Natick Mall and parks in front of Nordstrom. She shakes her head, smiling. He probably needs to look at some sort of structural thing for the new wing of the mall his company is designing. He's working, just not at the office. She's been hysterical. She's been following her husband's car, as if she's in some spy movie, on this freezing night in January, wearing her son's baseball cap and her daughter's pink boots because there was a phone number on the back of a business card. She's ready to continue on the path of how idiotic she is when she reminds herself that she's not really hysterical. After all, there is history.
She's about to drive home but decides against it. She parks three aisles over from him. He gets out of his car and walks quickly. She notices he's not carrying a briefcase. Actually he's not carrying anything, and his head is tucked down a little more than usual, something only she might notice.
In Nordstrom, she glances around. Without any customers, the sales people look sluggish. He takes the escalator to the second floor, where the women's clothes are. Maybe he's buying her a gift. But he walks through the department and into the mall, which is empty, a ghost town. Hannah tugs the brim of the hat a little lower and stays to the side, so if he does happen to look over his shoulder, she can race into a store.
Adam walks straight across, right to the public restrooms. He never slows, never turns his head. She stands at the end of the short corridor that leads to the bathrooms. This is a dead end.
She glances to her right, sees an elderly man heading toward Neiman Marcus. On her other side is a tall woman talking on her phone. No one is pushing to get into the restrooms. She takes a few steps, stops, and looks around. No one. A few more steps. She cranes her neck trying to see. If someone comes from behind, she'll say she's waiting for her son. No one is behind her. She hedges a little farther. Four urinals face the wall. The stalls are large with heavy wooden doors. She dashes into the last one, then looks down at her pink Uggs. Even though there are only a few inches of open space at the bottom of the door, she doesn't want anyone seeing her boots. She climbs on the closed seat and squats, her right hand against the beige tiled wall, steadying her. Adam is two stalls away. A faint odor, a combination of ammonia and cologne, makes her want to gag. She holds her breath.
Then the phone rings. But it's not just any ring. It screams the "Chicken Dance." Sam decided it would be funny if that was her ringtone, and she didn't have the heart to change it. He put the same silly ring on Adam's phone, and clearly he didn't change it, either.
"I'm here," he whispers.
Her stomach pitches and reels. Breathe, she tells herself, don't lose it now.
Someone comes in the restroom and goes into the stall with Adam.
Sweat drips down her forehead, but she can't wipe it off, afraid she'll lose her balance. Her thighs ache from squatting.
There's unzipping and unbuckling, followed by a crinkling of foil. Then Adam moaning.
"Don't stop," he grunts.
Although the stalls are large, semi-private, and divided by granite walls, the wooden door tremors, as if there's an earthquake.
Hannah's stomach spins. She's dizzy. The palm that rests against the wall slips, and she loses her balance. She tries to break the fall by twisting sideways. Unsuccessful, her purse clamors to the floor. Her legs give out. Her head hits the wall, and her pink boots poke into the neighboring stall.
Adam and whoever is with him stop.
"Hello," Adam says. "You okay in there?"
She pulls her feet back in, picks up her purse, and sits on the toilet seat. She's not okay. She feels seasick and puts her head between her knees.
"I'm getting outta here," the other man says.
Hannah jumps up and opens the door of the stall. She has to see what he looks like. On his way out, he glances over his shoulder. He's tan, wearing a tight T-shirt that shows off his muscles. His leather jacket is slung over his shoulder. He looks directly at her, and she thinks he must know who she is. He's young and handsome and doesn't wait around for any drama.
Adam rushes out of his stall and stares at her.
She touches her cheek and is surprised to feel tears.
"Hannah," he says, then stops.
She drops her purse and turns to the sinks. They have sensors, and she waves her hand, trying to get some water. Nothing comes out. Adam joins her, and with one swift motion the faucet runs.
She splashes cold water on her face, and for a second she feels better. Her face dripping, she picks up her head and gets a whiff of body odor.
Adam's eyes look cloudy. With his hands shoved in his pockets, he emanates shame, and she finds herself feeling bad for him, awkward and embarrassed.
Excerpted from The Wednesday Group by Sylvia True. Copyright © 2015 Sylvia True. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have to admit I was surprised someone wrote about this topic. But I think it's great the author decided to tackle this controversial subject, and she did it with a lot of compassion for both the women and the men. With porn being so readily available now, I have a feeling that sex addiction is going to become more and more of a problem in our society. We need to start talking about it, especially with teenagers who might not know how to handle it. I think this was a very brave thing for the author to do.
Read this in one sitting. Couldn't put it down. I have never read a novel about this topic, and I loved how the author picked such different women, yet they all at something in common. This is not a book about sex. It's about betrayal and addiction and friendship. I think it would make for excellent discussions in a book group. Was surprised to see this was Ms. True's first book. Hope there will be a sequel, as the end left me wanting more.
This book is a window into the world of a less acknowledged addiction. Sexual addiction. Which , from the book, is similar to substance and gambling addiction. I just finished the book, and I am left with a desire to call all of my close friends , because 1) it is a book about friendship without judgement 2) It is a page turner - fascinating , easy to read, and very educational And 3) it may be something a friend is going thru, and without having read this I wouldn't have a clue what to say if she told me. The characters in this book are nice people. I feel compassion for all of them. I've never read a book like this- never heard of one. But there should be a book like this. I highly recommend it.
Superficial treatment of an odd topic I received a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The cover of Wednesday Group caught my eye. I love the vibrant pillows juxtapose to the black background. I like chick-lit, and The Wednesday Group by Sylvia True is just that. It is not, however, traditional. The story is told from the point of view of the five members of a support group as well as that of the group leader. The support group for wives of “sex addicts” brings together an eclectic group. The women come from very different backgrounds, but they have in common the cliché of being a middle-aged woman whose husband is attracted to younger women (or men in one case). They all operate on the premise that their husband’s infidelities are beyond their control and that said husbands are actively trying to overcome/control their addiction much like an alcoholic would. The novel presents a credible depiction of the effect of the "addiction" and betrayal on these women’s families, social life, and jobs. Reluctantly the women begin to trust one another. The trust builds just in time as each of their husbands go out of their way to show their true colors. The perpetual doubt and questioning is exhausting for these women, and the eventual friendships that form within the group provide the bolstering each of them need. The book was realistic in that it portrays the women eventually accepting their situation (whether they choose to stay with their partner or not). I liked that the book didn’t wrap everything up with an unrealistic happily-ever-after. The open ending reflects the women’s need for supportive friendships and their never-ending, arduous battle with their respective realities. Overall, I thought the book was good. The characterization relied too heavily on clichés for my taste, and the author didn’t provide me with viable reasons that these seemingly smart women would choose to stay with their partners. The gullibility/denial of the women was distasteful to me. Each character has a small plot and story culmination, but nothing is big enough to build engrossing tension that it kept me reading.
Interesting book that focuses on bonds of female friendship. It was OK although I was very disappointed by the abrupt ending that left me angry by so many unaswered questions and no conclusion.
This was such a great read that I read it in one day! I think there could be more to the story though and feel it ended very abruptly.
What a great read! Sylvia True tackled this controversial topic, and showed so much compassion is amazing. I finished this book in 2 dats!