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


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

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: Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
  • ISBN-10: 0399156658
  • ISBN-13: 9780399156656