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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-04-07
- Reviewer: Staff
In Maum’s debut, it’s 2002, and as English artist Richard Haddon’s reputation swells following his first solo exhibition in his adopted home of Paris, his marriage slowly crumbles. His wife, Anne, learns of his infidelity with his American mistress, Lisa; meanwhile, Lisa continues to send him unsolicited letters. Richard travels to London to deliver one of his paintings—The Blue Bear, a sentimental piece created while Anne was pregnant with their only child—but fears that the buyer might be Lisa. What follows is an honest, staggeringly realized journey: Richard and Anne struggle to define their marriage, while he attempts to capitalize on his newfound artistic success, proposing an installation piece critiquing the conflict in Iraq. Equally funny and touching, the novel strikes deep, presenting a sincere exploration of love and monogamy. These characters are complex, and their story reflects their confusion and desire. As her story bounces through time and across continents (Richard and Anne met while students in the U.S.), Maum rarely loses focus. An impressive, smart novel. (June)
To win back a lost love
Richard Haddon has screwed up royally with his wife, and he’ll do anything to get her back.
Richard, a British contemporary artist, met his near-perfect French wife while enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design. From the moment he spotted Anne-Laure de Bourigeaud, Richard was convinced that she was the woman for him. Shortly after they married, Anne became pregnant, and their relationship served as the inspiration for one of Richard’s greatest paintings, “The Blue Bear.”
But seven years have passed, and while Richard hasn’t fallen out of love with his wife, his gaze has certainly wandered. So too has his focus on art; while Richard once used his art as a statement, he has now resorted to commercial paintings—and has sold “The Blue Bear,” which once meant so much to the couple. As his first solo show opens in a Parisian gallery, the distance between Richard and Anne is noticeable, although he’s the only half of the couple who knows the full extent of his dalliance. Anne seems to be patiently waiting for her husband to return his focus to their marriage.
When she uncovers Richard’s relationship with an American, though, Anne sends her husband packing and resolves not to let her sadness show. Richard, meanwhile, is determined to demonstrate his remorse and regret in the hope of recovering what the couple once had.
The basic plotline of this story—a couple falls in love, one cheats and then they struggle to determine what comes next—isn’t unusual. But in I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, first-time novelist Courtney Maum has crafted the story of a relationship so believable, so realistic that readers will be left wondering until the last minute whether the couple will reunite.
Maum, whose years in France (and marriage to a Frenchman) color the book, is a brand strategist and humor columnist. But the razor-sharp writing and character insights of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You suggest that readers have much to look forward to from this talented storyteller.