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A False Sense of Well Being (Ballantine…

A False Sense of Well Being (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

by Jeanne Braselton

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Jessie is an unhappily married woman and has visions of her husbands death by her hand. You follow her at work and with her family of origin and get insight into how it came to "this". She finds that happiness is what you put into your marriage. Not bad, but not great. ( )
  camplakejewel | Oct 29, 2013 |
A well-written novel, with a strong first-person voice—unfortunately, not a voice I wanted to spend so much time with.

A False Sense of Well Being is a character driven novel in the traditional sense; the plot barely exists except as a framework for the emotional growth of the narrator. But, perhaps because this is a first-time author, it takes a good third of the book to even get to the authors main issue, and there's lots of filler. The secondary characters are well-drawn and strong, but they obscure the main theme of the novel (to say more would be spoilers), and then it doesn't get resolved, such as it is, until the last three pages. It's too little time.

Basically, all that time wasted made me just want to smack the narrator upside the head (and perhaps it's not the best sign that I can't remember her name). It's like...just grow up lady! She worries so much and so long about why she isn't happy without figuring out what it would mean for her to be happy, or what her real issues are.

Jessie's (there, I looked it up) story starts when she is 38 and dissatisfied with her marriage, or assumes she must be, because she keeps dreaming up ways for her husband to die. Not murder, just...accidents. To get away from the situation, she goes back home.

Note: she calls her suburban-Georgia town 'small', even though she apparently grew up in the Georgian sticks—which still has a mall? Having grown up in a true small town, anywhere with suburbs cannot be described as small. So.

Well, after many and varied rural adventures, such as they are, Jessie confronts her own misunderstandings of the past, but it isn't until she makes it back to, at least, the same town as her husband where she understands her own difficulty—which, as I said, only happens in the very last pages. Now, she's supposed to be some kind of social worker, so it was frustrating how little she could understand her own issues, especially when I saw it the moment it was mentioned.

It didn't help that I could have little sympathy for her situation. After she married her husband, she went from the rural, small town girl, to joining her banker-husband's upper-middle class social strata, where she worries about impressing the neighbors and being the perfect, conventional housewife. She has all this free time, but never gets herself any hobbies or does anything to define herself. I wanted to shake her: get a life! And stop worrying about being 'happy' in the drugged sense, unless you intend on drugging yourself. She probably should have gotten therapy, come to think about it.

Anyway, most of the primary characters in the novel are difficult to sympathize with, but especially Jessie. All of her interactions with Wanda McNab made me intensely uncomfortable, especially the way she framed her views, and her limp reaction to her secret (to say more would be spoilers) frustrated me.

Still, I'm glad I read it for all my complaints. She did get somewhere, eventually, and I did think the resolution worked for the novel. I just think it could have been a bit more streamlined; and while the descriptions were good, I still think it could have taken place just as well in someplace like the suburbs of southern California. ( )
  MarieAlt | Mar 31, 2013 |
This was kind of pointless. Jessie is supposed to be having a mid-life crisis but she never really does anything about it. Yeah, she goes back to her parent’s house where here sister and awful nephew are also holed up. Somehow even though her sister sleeps around, stays out getting drunk till all hours and neglects her kid (he’s a brat so no wonder), Jessie’s mom thinks she’s the good daughter.

So after spending time with her parents and her weird sister, she decides that maybe Turner isn’t so bad after all. The thing is, things aren’t so bad with her family that she would come to this conclusion. I just didn’t understand where Jessie’s motivation to return to Turner came from. Nothing major happened to her. Just a trip down memory lane.
  Bookmarque | Jun 13, 2009 |
this writer reminds me a lot of elizabeth berg. if you enjoy ms. berg's books then you will enjoy this one as well! ( )
  amanaceerdh | May 21, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345443128, Paperback)


“Braselton’s confident first novel is [a] depiction of love on the rocks in the New South that combines small town charm with major league angst. . . . A down-home Proustian recherché search . . . [An] entertaining, rueful account of an apparently ‘normal’ marriage.”
–Los Angeles Times

“Simply extraordinary. [This novel] has the wit and modern comedy of Nora Ephron and the literary force of Flannery O’Connor.”
Author of Ellen Foster

At thirty-eight, Jessie Maddox has a comfortable life in Glenville, Georgia, with the most responsible husband in the world. But after the storybook romance, “happily ever after” never came. Now Jessie is left to wonder: Why can’t she stop picturing herself as the perfect grieving widow? As Jessie dives headlong into her midlife crisis, she is joined by a colorful cast of eccentrics. There’s her best friend Donna, who is having a wild adulterous affair with a younger man; Wanda McNabb, the sweet-natured grandmother who is charged with killing her husband; Jessie’s younger sister Ellen, who was born to be a guest on Jerry Springer; their mother, who persistently crosses the dirty words out of library books; and of course the stuffed green headless duck. . . .

When a trip home to the small town of her childhood raises more questions than it answers, Jessie is forced to face the startling truth head-on–and confront the tragedy that has shadowed her heart and shaken her faith in love . . . and the future.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:41 -0400)

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"At thirty-eight, Jessie Maddox subscribes to House Beautiful, Southern Living, even Psychology Today. She has a comfortable life in Glenville, Georgia, with Turner, the most reliable, responsible husband in the world. But after the storybook romance, "happily ever after" never came. Now the housewife who once wanted to be Martha Stewart before there was a Martha Stewart is left to wonder: Where did the marriage go wrong? Why can't she stop picturing herself as the perfect grieving widow?" "As Jessie delves headlong into her midlife crisis, she is aided and abetted by a colorful cast of characters in the true Southern tradition: her best friend and next-door neighbor Donna, who is having a wild adulterous affair with a younger man; Wanda McNab, the sweater-knitting, cookie-baking grandmother who is charged with killing her abusive husband. Then there's Jessie's eccentric family. Her younger sister Ellen, born to be a guest on Jerry Springer, has taken her seven-year-old son and squawking pet birds and left her husband "for good this time"...while their mother crosses out the dirty words in library books and alerts everyone to the wonderful bargains at Winn-Dixie, often at the same time. And then there's the stuffed green headless duck." "When a trip home to the small town of her childhood raises more questions than it answers, Jessie is forced to face the startling truth head-on - and confront the tragedy that has shadowed her heart and shaken her faith in love...and the future."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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