Review

This Is Not the Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness

by Laura Munson

THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS isn't the story that you
would think it would be. In fact, it probably exceeds all
expectations, which, given the author's circumstances, would not be
too high. A struggling novelist in Montana, after turning her back
on her Lilly Pulitzer-clad life as a well-to-do Chicago preppie,
Laura Munson has created a haven of happiness in the wilderness. On
acres of land she plants the perfect flowers, they find the perfect
home, she rides her perfect horse and takes care of her perfect
kids. The only thing she thinks isn't perfect is her inability to
sell the novels she slaves over.

But one day, seemingly out of the blue, her husband, having
career issues of his own, comes to her and tells her that he may
not love her anymore. He packs up and takes off, not returning home
for a few days. In the course of his "alone" time, Munson starts to
look at a future that she had never planned for. Is she prepared to
go it alone?

The book starts off strong. Munson pulled me in (not just
because I, too, am a struggling writer with little luck for my
creative work relative to the amount of work I do!) with her
discussions about the realities of balancing marriage, career,
home, and personal needs. Then she kept my interest by being
completely and at times almost too honest about her feelings, about
the ambivalence she felt not living up to what she thought her
parents expected of her (her mother is the critical one, her father
the accepting, supportive one) and her husband. It's a bent-on
mid-life crisis I haven't read before. What if you were bred to be
one way and your life at mid-point resembles absolutely none of
those things? Are you insane? Are you an idiot? Do dreams have age
limits and expiration dates? Do marriages?

THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS is three-quarters of a
great book. There is a point where the reader is bound to feel like
the friend whose generosity of time and love is stressed to the
breaking point, thinking, How many times can I hear her say the
same thing?
But then, given her newly discovered Zen-like
qualities and her ability to allay all her worst instincts and stay
calm in the face of disaster, she starts pulling it together.
Staying true to her own self, she gives her husband the freedom he
needs to make a choice. And the choice is pretty surprising, almost
as surprising as Munson's choices throughout the story.

This honest account of a marriage in crisis is unlike any other
one you've ever read. If THIS IS NOT THE STORY YOU THINK IT IS, all
the better!

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 23, 2011

This Is Not the Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness
by Laura Munson

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2010
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
  • ISBN-10: 0399156658
  • ISBN-13: 9780399156656