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

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

ISBN13: 9780345443120
ISBN10: 0345443128
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

Dear friends in Christ, here in the presence of Almighty God, let us kneel in silence, and with penitent and obedient hearts confess our sins, so that we may obtain forgiveness by his infinite goodness and mercy.

Confession of Sin The Book of Common Prayer

I was married eleven years before I started imagining how different life could be if my husband were dead. Beginning that year, and not, to my recollection, prompted by any overt unkindness or sudden disruption of affection, images of random damage, of events more simple and unpredictable than murder, invaded my dreams both sleeping and awake. The more I tried not to think about it, to purge these worrisome ideas out of my head, the louder my unconscious mind wailed. When I woke in the sheet-twisted dark and found myself pasted to the body of my very real husband, his whimpering snore as high-pitched as a cats, it was a bitter comfort. The familiar smell of him on the pillows, a pungent mix of his daily dousings of cologne and hair tonics, seeped into my pores with all the nauseating effects of a virus. I spent my nights, and an embarrassing number of days, picturing how I would react, what plans I would make, when misfortune cast me in a new role: that of grieving widow.

I would see him rounding the curve of the old highway, eyes closing, driving head-on into someone elses headlights. Stumbling into the line of fire during a convenience-store robbery. Stepping off the curb to be dragged under the wheels of a bus. When he fell asleep in front of the television late at night, head tilted backward over his chair, I would see him strangled that way, his breath cut off in mid-snore, a large bubble of exhaled air dancing cartoon-style in front of his face.

Every day I imagined some new way for it to happen. I saw the harmless objects of our ordinary lives turning against him, his body betraying him in one violent, irretrievable moment.

Hed crack his skull on the shower wall while reaching for a towel.

Hed try to light the pilot on the furnace and trigger a freak explosion.

Hed stumble over a childs bicycle in a neighbors driveway and snap his neck.

Once, when I was turning my key in the kitchen door, my left arm balancing a bag of groceries, I found myself thinking, He could be dead inside this house, in our bed, and I wouldnt know it.

Sometimes he would fall as he made the climb toward the sixth hole at Glenville Meadows, his heart squeezing in upon itself with a final cholesterol-clogged pang, his long, rigid body landing like a toppled game piece on the freshly mown fairway. The last thing hed see is the dimpled ball sailing skyward toward the green, where it rides the hillside on waves of light and dark, hopelessly out of his reach.

The first time I make my confession I know Im making a big mistake, as if Ive taken the wrong exit off the interstate and am barreling full speed down rain-slick, unlit streets with no on-ramp or telephone booth in sight. Its a Saturday, the day my next-door neighbor Donna Lindsey and I reserve for what we affectionately call our “suicide strolls.” At 6 a.m. sharp on most Saturdays, Donna and I meet at the boxwood hedge separating our two lawns—lawns kept green, well-trimmed, and dandelion-free by the Lawn Doctor, not our husbands—and set out along the bicycle paths that wind around the cookie-cutter Georgians and mock Tudors in our thoroughly modern and fitness-friendly subdivision. Donna and I begin our walk by streetlight and moonlight, leaving our homes bundled in sweat suits and windbreakers, stealthy as teenagers sneaking out past curfew. Much of our route is uphill until we reach the cul-de-sac where, in a mirror version of our own cul-de-sac, Phase Four of the Heritage Knoll development ends, so we usually talk only on the way back to our respective homes, when we can catch our breath.

Donna and I swing our arms purposefully and tell ourselves we arent getting older but healthier. We wave to the other, younger wives who jog at a faster clip, the cheeks of their aerobicized size-six butts barely jiggling. These women all carry or strap to their arms and legs reflective devices that each weigh five pounds or more, and when they trot past us, graceful as butterflies, pores freshly scrubbed and cucumber-soothed and without the slightest hint of perspiration, one has the distinct impression that they might, at any moment, take flight if they were not weighted down so carefully.

We keep walking, dreaming of the day when we can look just like them, when we can prance into Richs Department Store and buy identical pairs of red silk running shorts in a size six, completed, of course, by red silk cutoff T-shirts that show off our tanned and liposuctioned midriffs. We tell ourselves were happy with our own less-than-flawless bodies in case our plan doesnt work, and Im guessing it probably wont, so until then we resent the presence of these other wives for making us want it so badly.

It is during todays walk, on the return trip down a particularly steep hill, that Donna tells me shes having an affair with a salesman in the department store where she works part time, that its been going on for two months, and that she needs me to tell her husband David were going shopping next Tuesday after work. David will never even ask me about it, she points out a little too enthusiastically, so it isnt like Ill actually have to lie for her, but she wants to warn me just in case a lie is necessary. She also hints that it wouldnt be wise for me to be seen in my yard between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m. on Tuesday since, quite obviously, I cant be at the Glenville Meadows Mall with her and trying to resuscitate my ailing geraniums at the same time.

“Im sleeping with that young guy in menswear.”

Thats actually how she breaks the news. She says it matter-of-factly, as if shes just told me, “Im painting my kitchen blue.”

I remember that Donna made a point of introducing me to him a week or so earlier when I stopped by the mall to pick her up for lunch. When I arrived, I found him leaning over her jewelry counter, two fingers looped through a display of freshwater pearl bracelets.

His name is Perry Ferguson, and on the day we met he wore stylish burgundy suspenders over a cream-colored button-down broadcloth shirt and a pair of neatly pressed black gabardine trousers, and he had a lock of blond hair that, despite his efforts to slick it into place, kept falling over one of his eyes. He did, I noticed, wear a wedding ring. And hes young. At least ten years younger than Donna is my guess, which means hes maybe fifteen years younger than me. His leaning over her counter, touching those bracelets the way he did, was hardly the innocent gesture it had seemed.

I cant think of a thing to say. This is news I do not want to hear.

As we walk, we pass 1980s-style Victorians and country ranches, houses weve visited with our husbands for impromptu dinner parties and Neighborhood Watch-sponsored backyard barbecues, houses where the owners spend weeks searching antique stores for the perfect armoire and wouldnt dare refinish it. A lawn mower cranks somewhere nearby, a clear violation of the 10-4 rules. The people on this street must mow their own lawns. The Lawn Doctor knows the rules.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Madam Pince, July 12, 2008 (view all comments by Madam Pince)
A better title would be "A False Advertisement of Comedy." Although the dust cover described this as darkly funny, I found almost nothing about it laugh-provoking. It was just another tiresome woman searching for meaning in her life after suffering several setbacks, following a predictable path to the typical results. I don't feel like I lost brain cells to this book, but I didn't gain any either.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780345443120
Author:
Braselton, Jeanne
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Georgia
Subject:
Married women
Subject:
Bankers
Subject:
Alabama
Subject:
Childlessness
Subject:
Women psychiatrists
Subject:
Maddox, Jessie
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Humorous
Edition Number:
1st trade pbk. ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Ballantine Reader's Circle
Series Volume:
microcopy no. 594
Publication Date:
20021031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
8.36x5.50x.85 in. .68 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Romance » General

A False Sense of Well Being (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345443120 Reviews:
"Review" by , "This may be the best first novel I've ever read."
"Review" by , "With characters who touch the heart and dialogue that rings true, Braselton does a masterful job of telling Jessie’s story in this warm, moving, and remarkably accomplished first novel."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Simply extraordinary. [This novel] has the wit and modern comedy of Nora Ephron and the literary force of Flannery O'Connor."
"Review" by , "Braselton's depiction of the plight of restless women and her brilliant descriptions of sheltered suburbia and smalltown life are delivered with scathing wit."
"Review" by , "I thoroughly and absolutely loved this novel....A False Sense of Well-Being hits a nerve....[Braselton] has a genius for the offhand comment that cuts right to the core of life. Gutsy, moving, and memorable."
"Review" by , "This is regional fiction at its best."
"Synopsis" by , At 38, Jessie Maddox has a comfortable life in Glenville, Georgia, with Turner, the most reliable, responsible husband in the world. But after the storybook romance, Rhappily ever afterS never came. Now why can't she stop picturing herself as the perfect grieving widow?
"Synopsis" by , WINNER OF THE GEORGIA AUTHOR OF THE YEAR AWARD FOR FIRST NOVEL

“Braseltons 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 OConnor.”

–KAYE GIBBONS

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 cant 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. Theres 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; Jessies 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.

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