The Senator’s Wife by Sue Miller is a contemporary fiction novel about two couples who become neighbors, our main character, Meri, is a newlywed house hunting with her husband who recently accepted a better job at a university in a small town named Williston. It is evident that Meri is not as excited about house hunting, buying the house or moving to this new town as Nathan, her husband, is. Nathan’s family is wealthy and his mother offered to help them afford the purchase of a home which Meri wasn’t too fond of either. She wanted to be able to contribute or maybe she felt she had to choose something Nathan’s mother would approve which may not be something she likes. Either way, she didn’t necessarily like that Nathan’s mother would be involved in the purchase of their home. They’d been at it for two days and weren’t having much success; on the following day the real estate agent takes them to a townhouse that’s a little out of their price range, but she thinks they’ll love it. Nathan is a little skeptical, but not as skeptical as Meri. As they’re driving to this townhome to view it, the real estate agent mentions that their next door neighbors are the Naughton’s – Tom Naughton is a well known state representative and then senator. Apparently, Nathan is a fan of his and get excited at the idea of living next to them.

While Nathan and the realtor begin the house showing, Meri decides to catch up with them in a few minutes so she can sit outside and smoke a cigarette real quick. While she’s standing outside, Delia, Senator Naughton’s wife, comes out of the townhome next door and begins chatting it up with Meri. It appears that both women like different qualities and features about each other from the start, but Meri seems more drawn to and interested in Delia. In the end, Nathan and Meri buy the townhome, Nathan begins working at the university and after orientation he begins working longer hours so he can have time for the book he’s working on. Meri has applied for jobs and has a few interviews lined up and heads to her first one at a radio station. She is very interested in the job and her job interview went well because the company offered her the position which she enthusiastically accepted. Meri was thrilled to share this news with Nathan when he got home. After they moved in, Delia took a house warming gift over to Nathan and Meri; Nathan answered the door, thanked Delia for the gift and invited her inside to enjoy a glass of the champagne or wine she put in there – she didn’t turn him down. While they were inside chatting about the neighborhood, moving to new places and the previous owner of the home, Nathan asks Delia a few questions about the senator and she mentions how she will have to make sure they have a chance to meet him the next time he’s in Williston. She explains that he spends the majority of his time in Washington DC and that she spends about four months out of the year in Paris.

After making this statement, she asks if they wouldn’t mind house sitting for her while she is away which is basically them getting her mail and watering her flowers for two months. They happily agree to taking care of that for Delia and thank her again before she leaves for the evening and so they can continue unpacking their things. Things are going well for a while, Meri loves her new job and is very good at it, she also enjoys working with her coworkers and Nathan is enjoying his new job as well. One day, Meri isn’t feeling too well and remembers missing that time of the month so she buys two pregnancy tests. They both show a positive result which changes a lot of things for Meri. She’s not overly thrilled as this isn’t the best timing for her and Nathan even though they want kids, but also because she’s not thrilled at the idea of all of the changes she’ll have to make and her body will undergo over time. As promised, Delia heads off to Paris for two months so, Nathan and Meri have to help as they agreed to, but since Nathan is working long hours the chores mostly fall to Meri. In the beginning, Meri would simply walk into the house, pick up and sort the mail as Delia asked, water the plants and leave. But the more time she spent at the house, the more she began to spend more time in the rooms downstairs just staring at the decorations in each room whether it was paintings or photographs on the walls, photographs on tables, the furniture in the room, the paint or wallpaper on the walk, the type of flooring and colors. Some time later, she wanders upstairs where she laid down on Delia’s bed for a while, then looked through the rooms that used to be the Naughton’s kids’ rooms and so on.

Eventually, her wandering and snooping around got worse; one day she finds herself in Delia’s study upstairs and begins snooping around the drawers. In one of the drawers she finds old things from the kids, but in another drawer, she finds a bundle of letters from Tom or between Tom and Delia. Before Meri could stop herself, she was reading the letters and before she knew it, she had read all of them in one afternoon in one sitting. She found out the entire story of Tom and Delia’s marriage and why they were no longer living together. After replacing the bundle in the drawer, Meri immediately felt guilty over what she had done and knew she couldn’t tell Nathan about it because she could never admit how she came to learn this about their marriage. Then the story goes back to the early years of Tom and Delia’s marriage being told from Delia’s point of view. She talks about the kids and who is going to be visiting with them for the Christmas season that year. The Naughton’s have three children, Nancy, Brad and Evan. Brad is married with children, Nancy and Evan are still single and sometimes come home during the holidays to visit with their mom. This holiday is no exception, Delia is expecting both Evan and Nancy for Christmas this year, but finds out after getting home from picking Evan up from the train station, that Nancy’s roommate will be joining them that year as well because her family travels a lot and are already out of the country for the season. Apparently, Nancy’s roommate is a very attractive young lady because Evan mentions that about her; it is fair to say that Tom notices that as well.

A few hours after Evan arrives, Nancy and her roommate, Carolee, arrive too. Delia had gone out to make sure she had a few gifts for Carolee to put under the tree too since she’d be joining them. Everyone is friendly and nice to each other in the beginning; in Delia’s opinion, it looked like Evan and Tom were working to get and keep Carolee’s attention. After a while, Delia noticed Carolee and Tom taking more and more trips into town to ‘run errands’ and that these trips seemed to be taking longer and longer each time. Nancy doesn’t think anything of it because she doesn’t believe her father is capable of cheating on her mother and doesn’t think Carolee would overstep those bounds either. However, Delia gets a different feeling from it; this wouldn’t be Tom’s first time cheating on Delia – she has caught him before to which he admitted to having the affair and some others before that one that she didn’t know about either. He begged for her forgiveness and said it wouldn’t happen again; Delia forgave him and decided to move on from it. When she saw Tom with Carolee in a different part of the house, she had to go see what they were up to, and she almost caught them together if they hadn’t heard or seen her coming and had time to move away from each other.

A day or two later, Tom tells Delia that an emergency came up at work and that he needed to fly out immediately to Washington to take care of a bill and something to do with a very important vote. So, he packed his bags quickly, apologized profusely for having to leave so soon and abruptly and then was off to airport. The next day or two days after that, Carolee decides she needs to head back to school early because she forgot to do a few things for work that she needs to get done before getting back into the office so she leaves as well. The holiday season ends and everyone heads back to their lives as they were; a few weeks later, Delia gets a call or calls from her friends in DC who have seen Tom around with a much younger woman who he was taking out to lunch, buying things for and was not attempting to hide their relationship in any way. Delia decides to confront Tom about it demanding he stop seeing her to which he agrees and tells her that the relationship is over. Delia chooses to believe him and moves on from the whole ordeal; a few weeks or months later, Delia finds out, through her daughter, Nancy, that Tom had lied to her about ending his relationship with Carolee – that he was still seeing her. Nancy says that she found out because she confronted Carolee about her different and strange new behaviors such as not spending as much time with Nancy as she used to, staying out later and not telling her where she’s going and who she’s going out with. Carolee confesses that she is seeing Mr. Naughton and that the relationship began when she was staying at their house for Christmas. So, Delia demands, again, that Tom stop seeing her, but this time he outright refuses saying he ‘can’t give Carolee up’. Needless to say, both Nancy and Delia are furious with Tom.

This is when the separation occurs; Delia decides she can’t live in Washington anymore, doesn’t want to live with Tom and needs some time away from everything so a two-month trip to Paris is just the thing. After two months in Paris, Delia feels ready to return to life in Williston – alone – without Tom. This is difficult for her in the beginning, but as time goes on gets easier and easier for her to do; she finds time to volunteer at a local house where she gives tours telling the story of the famous female author who lived there many years ago. But she mostly spends time alone and has come to enjoy her solitude; she writes or calls Tom when she needs or wants him around to which he obliges her and she was able to convince him to purchase an apartment for her in Paris where she can get away whenever she wants. He does this for her to as way to make up for the way he treats her because, honestly, it doesn’t much improve. It’s not like he stops at any point saying enough is enough, but rather continues in his horrid behavior while writing letters not exactly apologizing for it, but also trying to sound remorseful. I was not impressed with Mr. Naughton.

After bringing us back to the present day of the story, we’re taken through the lives of Meri and Delia as they adjust to life’s many changes. Meri has the baby, Delia eventually has to deal with a serious medial emergency involving Tom turning their lives upside down forever. Overall, the story is well-written and fairly interesting; I have to admit that I was nosy about what, exactly, happened in Tom and Delia’s marriage that would be remain separated for so long (just not read-someone-else’s-old-letters-from-their-husband nosy though). I think the author did a good job of telling the story and developing the characters, I like that the story is told from Meri’s and Delia’s points of view and that’s about as far as it goes. I’m not a huge fan of the ending, although not all of it is predictable, the character’s thoughts at the end of the book were disappointing to me and how she would try to explain her inexcusable behavior doesn’t make sense and is totally barf worthy. I guess I would recommend this book to anyone who has an open mind about what they read and doesn’t mind reading random books that they understand they may not like. That’s a very specific type of audience, I know, but I don’t know that this book would be for everybody. I checked this book out from my local library (on a whim) because the title sounded interesting and there seems to be quite a few books out their about different people’s wives so I figure reading most or all of them would be interesting.

The Senator’s Wife by Sue Miller is a contemporary fiction novel about two couples who become neighbors, our main character, Meri, is a newlywed house hunting with her husband who recently accepted a better job at a university in a small town named Williston. It is evident that Meri is not as excited about house hunting, buying the house or moving to this new town as Nathan, her husband, is. Nathan’s family is wealthy and his mother offered to help them afford the purchase of a home which Meri wasn’t too fond of either. She wanted to be able to contribute or maybe she felt she had to choose something Nathan’s mother would approve which may not be something she likes. Either way, she didn’t necessarily like that Nathan’s mother would be involved in the purchase of their home. They’d been at it for two days and weren’t having much success; on the following day the real estate agent takes them to a townhouse that’s a little out of their price range, but she thinks they’ll love it. Nathan is a little skeptical, but not as skeptical as Meri. As they’re driving to this townhome to view it, the real estate agent mentions that their next door neighbors are the Naughton’s – Tom Naughton is a well known state representative and then senator. Apparently, Nathan is a fan of his and get excited at the idea of living next to them.

While Nathan and the realtor begin the house showing, Meri decides to catch up with them in a few minutes so she can sit outside and smoke a cigarette real quick. While she’s standing outside, Delia, Senator Naughton’s wife, comes out of the townhome next door and begins chatting it up with Meri. It appears that both women like different qualities and features about each other from the start, but Meri seems more drawn to and interested in Delia. In the end, Nathan and Meri buy the townhome, Nathan begins working at the university and after orientation he begins working longer hours so he can have time for the book he’s working on. Meri has applied for jobs and has a few interviews lined up and heads to her first one at a radio station. She is very interested in the job and her job interview went well because the company offered her the position which she enthusiastically accepted. Meri was thrilled to share this news with Nathan when he got home. After they moved in, Delia took a house warming gift over to Nathan and Meri; Nathan answered the door, thanked Delia for the gift and invited her inside to enjoy a glass of the champagne or wine she put in there – she didn’t turn him down. While they were inside chatting about the neighborhood, moving to new places and the previous owner of the home, Nathan asks Delia a few questions about the senator and she mentions how she will have to make sure they have a chance to meet him the next time he’s in Williston. She explains that he spends the majority of his time in Washington DC and that she spends about four months out of the year in Paris.

After making this statement, she asks if they wouldn’t mind house sitting for her while she is away which is basically them getting her mail and watering her flowers for two months. They happily agree to taking care of that for Delia and thank her again before she leaves for the evening and so they can continue unpacking their things. Things are going well for a while, Meri loves her new job and is very good at it, she also enjoys working with her coworkers and Nathan is enjoying his new job as well. One day, Meri isn’t feeling too well and remembers missing that time of the month so she buys two pregnancy tests. They both show a positive result which changes a lot of things for Meri. She’s not overly thrilled as this isn’t the best timing for her and Nathan even though they want kids, but also because she’s not thrilled at the idea of all of the changes she’ll have to make and her body will undergo over time. As promised, Delia heads off to Paris for two months so, Nathan and Meri have to help as they agreed to, but since Nathan is working long hours the chores mostly fall to Meri. In the beginning, Meri would simply walk into the house, pick up and sort the mail as Delia asked, water the plants and leave. But the more time she spent at the house, the more she began to spend more time in the rooms downstairs just staring at the decorations in each room whether it was paintings or photographs on the walls, photographs on tables, the furniture in the room, the paint or wallpaper on the walk, the type of flooring and colors. Eventually she ended up wandering upstairs where she laid down on Delia’s bed for a while, then looked through the rooms that used to be the Naughton’s kids’ rooms and so on.

Eventually, her wandering and snooping around got worse; one day she finds herself in Delia’s study upstairs and begins snooping around the drawers. In one of the drawers she finds old things from the kids, but in another drawer, she finds a bundle of letters from Tom or between Tom and Delia. Before Meri could stop herself, she was reading the letters and before she knew it, she had read all of them in one afternoon in one sitting. She found out the entire story of Tom and Delia’s marriage and why they were no longer living together. After replacing the bundle in the drawer, Meri immediately felt guilty over what she had done and knew she couldn’t tell Nathan about it because she could never admit how she came to learn this about their marriage. Then the story goes back to the early years of Tom and Delia’s marriage being told from Delia’s point of view. She talks about the kids and who is going to be visiting with them for the Christmas season that year. The Naughton’s have three children, Nancy, Brad and Evan. Brad is married with children, Nancy and Evan are still single and sometimes come home during the holidays to visit with their mom. This holiday is no exception, Delia is expecting both Evan and Nancy for Christmas this year, but finds out after getting home from picking Evan up from the train station, that Nancy’s roommate will be joining them that year as well because her family travels a lot and are already out of the country for the season. Apparently, Nancy’s roommate is a very attractive young lady because Evan mentions that about her; it is fair to say that Tom notices that as well.

A few hours after Evan arrives, Nancy and her roommate, Carolee, arrive too. Delia had gone out to make sure she had a few gifts for Carolee to put under the tree too since she’d be joining them. Everyone is friendly and nice to each other in the beginning; in Delia’s opinion, it looked like Evan and Tom were working to get and keep Carolee’s attention. After a while, Delia noticed Carolee and Tom taking more and more trips into town to ‘run errands’ and that these trips seemed to be taking longer and longer each time. Nancy doesn’t think anything of it because she doesn’t believe her father is capable of cheating on her mother and doesn’t think Carolee would overstep those bounds either. However, Delia gets a different feeling from it; this wouldn’t be Tom’s first time cheating on Delia – she has caught him before to which he admitted to having the affair and some others before that one that she didn’t know about either. He begged for her forgiveness and said it wouldn’t happen again; Delia forgave him and decided to move on from it. When she saw Tom with Carolee in a different part of the house, she had to go see what they were up to, and she almost caught them together if they hadn’t heard or seen her coming and had time to move away from each other.

A day or two later, Tom tells Delia that an emergency came up at work and that he needed to fly out immediately to Washington to take care of a bill and something to do with a very important vote. So, he packed his bags quickly, apologized profusely for having to leave so soon and abruptly and then was off to airport. The next day or two days after that, Carolee decides she needs to head back to school early because she forgot to do a few things for work that she needs to get done before getting back into the office so she leaves as well. The holiday season ends and everyone heads back to their lives as they were; a few weeks later, Delia gets a call or calls from her friends in DC who have seen Tom around with a much younger woman who he was taking out to lunch, buying things for and was not attempting to hide their relationship in any way. Delia decides to confront Tom about it demanding he stop seeing her to which he agrees and tells her that the relationship is over. Delia chooses to believe him and moves on from the whole ordeal; a few weeks or months later, Delia finds out, through her daughter, Nancy, that Tom had lied to her about ending his relationship with Carolee – that he was still seeing her. Nancy says that she found out because she confronted Carolee about her different and strange new behaviors such as not spending as much time with Nancy as she used to, staying out later and not telling her where she’s going and who she’s going out with. Carolee confesses that she is seeing Mr. Naughton and that the relationship began when she was staying at their house for Christmas. So, Delia demands, again, that Tom stop seeing her, but this time he outright refuses saying he ‘can’t give Carolee up’. Needless to say, both Nancy and Delia are furious with Tom.

This is when the separation occurs; Delia decides she can’t live in Washington anymore, doesn’t want to live with Tom and needs some time away from everything so a two-month trip to Paris is just the thing. After two months in Paris, Delia feels ready to return to life in Williston – alone – without Tom. This is difficult for her in the beginning, but as time goes on gets easier and easier for her to do; she finds time to volunteer at a local house where she gives tours telling the story of the famous female author who lived there many years ago. But she mostly spends time alone and has come to enjoy her solitude; she writes or calls Tom when she needs or wants him around to which he obliges her and she was able to convince him to purchase an apartment for her in Paris where she can get away whenever she wants. He does this for her to as way to make up for the way he treats her because, honestly, it doesn’t much improve. It’s not like he stops at any point saying enough is enough, but rather continues in his horrid behavior while writing letters not exactly apologizing for it, but also trying to sound remorseful. I was not impressed with Mr. Naughton.

This is how it is with your children, she thought. You hold all the versions of them there ever were simultaneously in your heart.

Delia, p. 276, “The Senator’s Wife”, Sue Miller, 2008

After bringing us back to the present day of the story, we’re taken through the lives of Meri and Delia as they adjust to life’s many changes. Meri has the baby, Delia eventually has to deal with a serious medial emergency involving Tom turning their lives upside down forever. Overall, the story is well-written and fairly interesting; I have to admit that I was nosy about what, exactly, happened in Tom and Delia’s marriage that would be remain separated for so long (just not read-someone-else’s-old-letters-from-their-husband nosy though). I think the author did a good job of telling the story and developing the characters, I like that the story is told from Meri’s and Delia’s points of view and that’s about as far as it goes. I’m not a huge fan of the ending, although not all of it is predictable, the character’s thoughts at the end of the book were disappointing to me and how she would try to explain her inexcusable behavior doesn’t make sense and is totally barf worthy. I guess I would recommend this book to anyone who has an open mind about what they read and doesn’t mind reading random books that they understand they may not like. That’s a very specific type of audience, I know, but I don’t know that this book would be for everybody. I checked this book out from my local library (on a whim) because the title sounded interesting and there seems to be quite a few books out their about different people’s wives so I figure reading most or all of them would be interesting.

Anyway, I digress, if you’d rather purchase a copy of the hardback, Barnes & Noble has them for $24.95 (B&N Members get it for $23.44) or you can head over to Amazon to get a copy for $7.99 (unfortunately, it’s not a Prime item). As usual, thanks for stopping by my blog! For more book reviews you might have missed, head over here!