Published by Ballantine
Publication date: August 9, 2016
Genres: Romance, Women's Fiction
From Bethany Chase—whom bestselling author Emily Giffin calls “a great new voice in fiction”—comes a wise and delightfully relatable novel about a woman’s journey to rebuild her life, and her heart, after a stunning betrayal.
Can you ever really know the person you love?
She never saw it coming. Without even a shiver of suspicion to warn her, art curator Caroline Hammond discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man—a revelation that forces her to question their entire history together, from their early days as high school sweethearts through their ten years as a happily married couple. In her now upside-down world, Caroline begins envisioning her life without the relationship that has defined it: the loneliness of being an “I” instead of a “we”; the rekindled yet tenuous closeness with her younger sister; and the unexpected—and potentially disastrous—attraction she can’t get off her mind. Caroline always thought she knew her own love story, but as her husband’s other secrets emerge, she must decide whether that story’s ending will mean forgiving the man she’s loved for half her life, or facing her future without him.
Compassionate and uplifting, Results May Vary is a bittersweet celebration of the heart’s ability to turn unexpected troubles into extraordinary strength.
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* I have an excerpt from Chapter 1 to share with you below my review. You’ll want to know what happens next after you read it!
As I’m writing this review, I’m sitting here deep in my feelings. So I apologize in advance for my lack of eloquence (not that I normally have that anyway). This book is one of my favorite reads this year and it was truly a joy to read. I stayed up way past midnight TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW. If you know me, you know that I am a 31-year old grandma who likes her sleep. I couldn’t put this book down. I mean, just read the first few lines of the book:
“There are these two little words I know, that we all know; we learn them so early that we can’t remember when we did. They have a gravitational attraction to each other, I would say: the one word love, and the other word story. ‘Cause you can have a story without love, sure; but when it comes to the kind of love you fall in, whether it’s a slow glide or a blind plunge over the edge…you can’t have a love without a story.
I thought I knew mine.”
We meet Adam and Caroline, two high school sweethearts turned happily married couple. Or so Caroline thought. She discovers her husband had an affair with a man. What follows is the unraveling of her heart and maybe even her marriage, causing her to delve deep into herself and often times just allow herself to feel the loss.
“Is that what this was, he’d gotten bored? Was this even the first time? Were there others? How many? For how long? Suddenly, the room was closing in on me. Everything I’d ever counted on and trusted about my marriage, my husband, had been ripped out from under me, washed away like a bridge too flimsy for a storm.”
RESULTS MAY VARY is heartbreaking, uplifting, painful, and romantic. I enjoyed the experience of reading this book—that feeling of being on edge, not knowing what’s going to happen next. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are romantic moments in this book, but I still wouldn’t call this a romance. It’s a women’s fiction novel with romantic elements and I just love how the “romancey” part of this book was done.
As a reader, I appreciate a mix of complexity and simplicity in writing. I don’t need to be wooed with an overabundance prose or violently shaken with plots meant to shock. I much prefer to be rocked and lulled with writing that is pieced together with care, forethought, and skill. Writing that is clean and simple but packs an emotional punch. Bethany Chase’s writing in RESULTS MAY VARY is an example of what I love.
The author really made me feel Caroline’s emotions; it felt so real. I can’t imagine experiencing that sort of bone deep betrayal from someone you trusted so completely. The thought of living her life without her husband—her rock and best friend of more than 16 years—was incredibly painful and scary.
My feelings towards Adam were mixed throughout the novel, which I think is exactly what the author wanted to portray. The reader sees Adam only through Caroline’s filter, and her opinions change as the novel progresses. I went from adoring him, to being so mad, to understanding, and then back to anger.
“What in the name of god had he done to us?”
Some of Adam’s actions could be seen as emotionally manipulative, but I had to remember that his character had his own emotional journey—much of which the reader wasn’t privy. His affair shook Caroline to her core but it also forced him to come to his own truth. I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of his journey.
The book is told through Caroline’s perspective, so the reader is only seeing her side of the story and feeling her feelings. In women’s fiction, I think it’s important to remind yourself that you are not the heroine. What you would do in the heroine’s shoes probably wouldn’t be what she would do. But that doesn’t excuse all of the heroine’s possible bad choices. It’s the author’s job to make the reader understand the heroine’s motivations. In this novel, I understood how Caroline felt, how deep the betrayal ran, and why she made the choices she did.
Most of all, I loved the message of the book. You can never predict where life may take you, no matter how carefully you try to plan your future. You might think you have everything planned out with goals waiting to be achieved. You want to have this many kids, this big of a house, and have this sort of job. But one day, the rug may be pulled out from under you; leading you down a path you would not have chosen, maybe even to bigger and greater things. It’s what you do that defines you. You might discover parts of yourself you didn’t know existed and dust off the parts that were long suppressed by all your plans.
“You’re never going to have a predictable result. Not in how it gets made, or how people feel about it.”
One more thing—the quotes under the chapter headings were so great and perfectly chosen! They set the stage and tone for what was to come. Read this book!
* I received a copy from the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion.
From Chapter 1 of Results May Vary
(scroll through to read the excerpt)