Maybe in Another Life: A Novel Book Review

We make choices every day. It could be as simple as the coffee we drink in the morning or as complicated as the person we want to spend our lives with.

Maybe in Another Life: A Novel, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, was published in 2015. Hannah Martin has just returned to her native Los Angeles. Needing a fresh start after her life in New York City has crashed and burned in spectacular fashion, she is temporarily living with her best friend Gabby and Gabby’s husband Mark.

During an informal reunion at a local bar, Hannah runs into Ethan, her high school boyfriend. When the clock strikes midnight, Gabby is ready to call it a day. But Ethan is not ready to go home and offers to give Hannah a ride home if she is willing to stay a while longer. Hannah could leave with Gabby or hang out with Ethan. This one decision may have the power to change the course of her life.

From there, the narrative takes off into two parallel storylines with different consequences and endings. The question that Hannah has to ask herself is not only where does she want to her life to go, but who will be by her side?

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I enjoyed this book. The author does a good job of creating a dual storyline, which is not as easy as it appears to be. I was hooked immediately, eager to dig into Hannah’s story. The only problem is that in some sections, my editor’s brain turned on. I wanted to read this book for pleasure, not use the imaginary red pen to point out what needed fixing.

Do I recommend it? I would say yes.


Mansfield Park Character Review: Edmund Bertram

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the novel Mansfield Park. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or watched any of the adaptations. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. Idealism is a wonderful thing. It allows us to see the world as we would like it to be. But, as great as it is, it must be tempered with realism. In Mansfield Park, Edmund Bertram is an idealistic young man who must learn to take the rose-colored glasses in order to see the truth.

His initial appearance occurs when he is a young man. His cousin, Fanny Price, has just been taken in by his parents. While the rest of his family mocks and looks down upon Fanny, he is the only one to show her kindness. His initial treatment of her is that of an older sibling. He encourages her to use her natural-born intellect and provides the confidence she needs to stay sane.

As a younger son, Edmund knows that he must find employment. Primogeniture was both the custom and the law of the land. His older brother Thomas, by virtue of being born first, will inherit the whole kit and caboodle. The most common professions for men in his situation are either the military, the law, or the Church. His choice is to become a man of the cloth.

When his father and brother leave England for Antigua, Edmund is the unofficial man of the house. He tries to take his role seriously. But his intentions don’t exactly come to fruition due to the engagement of his sister Maria and the entry of Mary and Henry Crawford into their lives. When Thomas returns home without their father, he decides to put together a family theatrical, much to his brother’s dismay. But Edmund eventually agrees, trying to keep some semblance of propriety. The early arrival of Sir Thomas ends the play before it has the chance to begin.

Edmund begins to fall for the vivacious and outgoing Mary, in spite of her numerous attempts to convince him to choose another line of work. During the ball for Fanny, he drops the idea of proposing to Mary, finally realizing that she will never accept him for who he is. He also does not recognize that Fanny is in love with him.

After Fanny rejects Henry’s marriage proposal, he tries to get her to see reason. On paper, Fanny could do a lot worse in terms of a husband. But she still refuses to change her mind and is sent back to her parent’s house. During this time, Thomas gets dangerously sick and Maria elopes with Henry. Mary attempts to comfort the Betrams by assuming that Tom will die and Edmund will be the heir.

Whatever visions of his future with Mary disappear. They are incompatible and will not live happily ever after. The book ends when he sees that the person he is meant for, Fanny, has been there all along.

To sum it up: Learning to see the truth vs. what we want to see is not easy. It requires knowledge and courage, specifically when the experience may be painful. But Edmund is able to get through all that, marry the woman he loves, and have a satisfying career.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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