Review

Everything She Thought She Wanted

by Elizabeth Buchan



In REVENGE OF THE MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN, Elizabeth Buchan gave us a
believable, touching woman facing the unthinkable, unpredictable
end of her long-term loving marriage and then her triumphant
rebound that had audiences everywhere applauding her survival. She
was relatable, likable and convincing in her struggle and rebirth.
And now Buchan's newest offering --- EVERYTHING SHE THOUGHT SHE
WANTED --- finds two new women facing their own recognizable issues
during two very different time periods.

The first, Barbara Beeching, is a forty-two-year-old mother of two
grown-up children in the 1950s. Her husband, Ryder, is a loving
mate and father on the verge of retiring from a long career as a
pilot. Onlookers think they have the ideal life --- a beautiful
home, a devout marriage, good friends. Until Alexander Liberty, a
young, seductively attractive student, takes a surprising interest
in the older Barbara. She can't believe her own passion for the new
man in her life as she almost forgets what she would be sacrificing
if she pursues her desires: "Suddenly I was filled with an
incredible sense of freedom, almost unbearably so. I was here, in
the sunshine and breeze, smelling Spring, and so was Alexander, and
I could think of, consider, nothing else." Her ideal life, the life
dictated by the era, was in jeopardy, but her spirit and heart were
grappling with an internal want reawakened by this surprising
attraction.

Fast forward to the 1990s and meet Siena Grant, whose own life is
the envy of many women of her era. She enjoys a growing career and
celebrity as a fashion journalist in Britain, has signed a
lucrative book deal, and has the promise of a tempting job in
America, if she wants it. And she has Charlie. Charlie is a
sensitive and loyal attorney who married Siena with the hopes of a
family and a country home. Can Siena give up everything she has
worked for to "settle down" in a country home to raise children? "I
was engaged in a battle," she thinks, "between my doubts and fears
and what Charlie wanted, between my desire to escape my biology and
my desire to kneel at his feet... "

The title phrase --- "everything she thought she wanted" --- refers
to the desires of both Barbara and Siena, and the looming questions
about what defines "everything." Excitement? Security? Love?
Passion? Family? Career? Home? Does she (Barbara or Siena, or both)
already have everything she thought she wanted? Or is she being
tempted by it? The juxtaposition of the two ladies --- each
emblematic of the values of their time --- is clever in its chapter
by chapter reminder that the grass isn't always greener on the
other side. Or is it? The two intersect only briefly, and perhaps
unnecessarily, at the end of the book, but what they share in
common is universal.

Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 21, 2011

Everything She Thought She Wanted
by Elizabeth Buchan

  • Publication Date: April 25, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
  • ISBN-10: 0143037005
  • ISBN-13: 9780143037002