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Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any non-fiction books such as autobiographies or political commentary books.

Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#1 by bluegreenmarina
» 26 May 2017, 21:57

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Husband" by JoAnne Blackwelder.]

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4 out of 4 stars
Review by bluegreenmarina
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There is a common saying about marriage, that one can never know what goes on behind closed doors, meaning that a marriage that looks perfect from the outside may have deep issues in private. Husband by Joanne Blackwelder is an account of one such marriage that spanned four decades, between the author Joanne and her husband Steve.

At the start of the narrative, Joanne describes the experience of waking up next to her husband and discovering he had died in the night. As she copes with her grief and attempts to process the memories of their less-than-perfect marriage, Joanne discovers his journals, and learns that throughout the course of their decades together Steve had multiple extramarital affairs, primarily with men. Having been aware of his stated bisexuality, she is nonetheless shocked to discover the extent of his attraction to men, and the extent of his impulsive and sometimes dangerous choices.

The story takes us back to the late 60s when Steve and Joanne met, giving us a fascinating look into the life of the young woman during a politically unstable age that so much resembles the charged atmosphere of today. As we follow along with their courtship and marriage, we watch Joanne become a new mother in the 1970s, navigating her budding career as well as the ups and downs of Steve’s employment situation. A common current through the years of their relationship is the dishonesty that tends to accompany Steve’s impulsive actions, eventually destroying the trust that Joanne had in him. As the years pass by, we also see the grip of alcoholism getting tighter over Steve’s life, and witness its devastating impact on Joanne and her young daughters.

As the author takes us through the difficulties and trials their family faces through the years – unemployment, cancer, deaths in the family – we are privy to her own processing of the grief of the loss of her husband. The theme of conflict (both between members of a family, but also with oneself and one’s own desires) comes up frequently throughout the narrative. Joanne, having entered into the marriage knowing Steve felt and expressed attraction to men, and having agreed to keep their relationship open, feels conflicted over her negative reaction to Steve’s extramarital escapades. Years pass by as she asks herself whether she is ready to pursue a divorce. Steve himself similarly appears to be conflicted about whether he wants a family life with Joanne and his daughters or a sexual relationship with a man. At times, his alcoholism makes him behave in direct conflict not only to Joanne’s stated wishes but also to his own stated plans.

I found this to be an incredibly real and emotionally affecting story. The author’s detailed recounting of the conversations and interactions that took place between her and her husband, as well as some of the other people involved in their lives, brought the account to life vividly. The pacing was effective and the author moved through the decades of the relationship smoothly and efficiently, not getting bogged down in unnecessary detail.

One of my favorite aspects of the book was the excerpts from Steve’s journal, contrasting Joanne’s version of events with Steve’s account. It was fascinating to note the differences in what each of them found significant, and simultaneously heartbreaking to watch the toll that alcohol and deceit took on their relationship, as it widened the gap between their daily goals. One thing I wish there had been more of was Joanne’s reactions to what Steve wrote – I wanted to know how it felt for her to read his version of events when it differed so greatly from her version. However, even without this analysis, the mere presence of the entries created a level of intrigue for me that went above and beyond a typical memoir. The story ended strongly and Joanne’s final overview of their marriage and the love she felt for her husband was moving, and left a lasting emotional impression. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars and recommend it for readers who enjoy memoirs and stories of relationships and marriage, and folks who are interested in nonfiction accounts of the impact of alcohol on a family. Since bisexuality and homosexuality play a prominent role in this story, as many of Steve’s extramarital affairs were with men, readers should also be comfortable reading (sometimes detailed) accounts of gay relationships and sexual activity.

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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#2 by MarisaRose
» 01 Jun 2017, 05:47

This sounds like a really powerful book; I'm glad the author chose to share her experiences. I like that you point out the way the author contrasts her story with that of her husband via the journal entries. It would seem to me that that aspect would increase the purposefulness of this book even more! Interesting review :)
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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#3 by kandscreeley
» 01 Jun 2017, 07:35

I really can't even imagine all that the author went through. First waking up next to your husband only to find that he's dead. Then discovering the extent of his betrayal to your vows. I have a feeling this is a book I wouldn't be able to read all in one sitting. Thanks for the review. Sounds like a powerful book.
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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#4 by Amagine
» 01 Jun 2017, 11:32

This sounds like a powerful book with a story that only a few can relate to. I also like the contrasting points of view too. It gives the story more depth and substance.

Great Review!
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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#5 by Elizabeth Shiro
» 01 Jun 2017, 23:17

Am really fascinated by JoAnne who shared her story in an indept that part of her life story is based on inner pain. First the death of her husband, his alcoholism and his extramarital affairs. From these we can see how JoAnne is a strong woman. Thanks for the review
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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#6 by Pretty fath
» 03 Jun 2017, 03:27

Sharing and write our experience to having husband and get married is really helpful to those. Who about to start their loves ones I relate on this book when I read it. Very inspired
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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#7 by Emily Elizee
» 07 Jun 2017, 17:08

Great in depth review, very detailed. This is such a touching story.
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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#8 by Asom Doom Mary
» 08 Jun 2017, 17:24

We all need this book in our lives. It is cold water to our face and warm water to our feet.
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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#9 by Anugo
» 08 Jun 2017, 18:52

This book sounds fascinating. Going from the oblivious to the known. It's a must read for me.
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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#10 by Rosemary Okoko
» 15 Jun 2017, 09:48

I thank the author for sharing her real life experience. It will have an impact on many lives. I will read this one. Wonderful review.
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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#11 by Vengayi
» 18 Jun 2017, 09:08

This sounds like a very emotional story. I think I should read this book
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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#12 by bridget3420
» 18 Jun 2017, 17:19

I really enjoyed this review. Now I HAVE To read it!
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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#13 by Damarisn
» 23 Jun 2017, 08:44

This is a great review. Am curious to know what sort of understanding the author and her late husband had when they agreed to get married and how the marriage turned out. I have to read the book.
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Re: Official Review: Husband by JoAnne Blackwelder

Post Number:#14 by maged
» Yesterday, 10:29

This is such a touching story.very emotional , I think I should read this book.
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