From the publisher:
A delicious, sharp novel about a woman who jets off to France after her perfect marriage collapses, putting the broken pieces of herself back together while rediscovering her own joie de vivre—a lust for life, art, and steamy sex.
“Artful, feminist, and emotionally gripping. The Unbreakables is a remarkable tribute to a woman’s strength in the face of heartbreak and adversity.” — Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient
The worst birthday ever might just be the gift of a lifetime…
It’s Sophie Bloom’s forty-second birthday, and she’s ready for a night of celebration with Gabe, her longtime, devoted husband, and her two besties and their spouses. Dinner is served with a side of delicious gossip, including which North Grove residents were caught with their pants down on Ashley Madison after the secret on-line dating site for married and committed couples was hacked. Thirty-two million cheaters worldwide have been exposed…including Sophie’s “perfect” husband. To add insult to injury, she learns Gabe is the top cheater in their town.
Humiliated and directionless, Sophie jumps into the unknown and flees to France to meet up with her teenage daughter who is studying abroad and nursing her own heartbreak. After a brief visit to Paris, Sophie heads out to the artist enclave of Saint-Paul-de-Vence. There, for the first time in a long time, Sophie acknowledges her own desires—not her husband’s, not her daughter’s—and rediscovers her essence with painful honesty and humor, reawakening both her sensuality and ambitions as a sculptor.
As she sheds her past and travels the obstacle-filled off beaten path, Sophie Bloom is determined to blossom. Allowing her true self to emerge in the postcard beauty of Provence, Sophie must decide what is broken forever…and what it means to be truly unbreakable.
I don’t remember where I first heard about this book, but it kept coming up in various emails and websites with glowing reviews so I opened it. I was immediately surprised by the whole Ashley Madison plot line and thought why hasn’t anyone else written about this. It seems like a really good jumping off point for a novel and Barr took it and ran with it.
If you aren’t familiar or forgot the salacious details, Ashley Madison is a “dating” site for married people who wanted to have affairs. Yuck. But it was very successful, financially at least, until hackers broke in and started releasing lists of names of the married cheaters. You can read all about it here: Fortune and you can search the database if you really want to here: CNN helps you figure out how to do that. And of course, Wikipedia has an overview. In case you thought this huge, embarrassing data breach would cause the site to shut down, think again. Ashley Madison survived and is still going. No, I’m not linking to it. Again, yuck.
Sophie, Samantha and Lauren have been best friends since childhood and they dub themselves the unbreakables. But life has a way of laughing at such proclamations, and the damage done by the Ashley Madison scandal is immediate and devastating. This is a story of a woman who has to start over at age 42. I didn’t agree with all her choices, but I cheered her on regardless. I will say that having an unlimited stream of money seemed most helpful here so if this happens to you, plan ahead and save up for it.
I was immediately absorbed into the story and was alternately shocked, saddened, angered and inspired; sometimes, I swear, all on the same page. This definitely falls under emotional reads for me. Barr does a really good job of making the reader care about Sophie and all her life choices. This should make good fodder for book groups.
6/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
THE UNBREAKABLES by Lisa Barr. Harper Paperbacks (June 4, 2019). ISBN 978-0062895394. 352p.