cover image The Intermission

The Intermission

Elyssa Friedland. Berkley, $26 (360p) ISBN 978-0-399-58686-6

This entertaining marriage saga from Friedland (Love and Miss Communication) unravels the minutiae of everyday life in a broken marriage. It takes five years for the charm to fade from Cass Coyne’s marriage. Generally insecure and daunted by the prospect of becoming a mother, Cass informs her husband that they’ll be taking a six-month “intermission” and live seperately. While Cass has relished the stability, luxury, and love she’s found with hedge fund analyst Jonathan, she can’t quite move past her impoverished and neglected childhood or the guilt of secretly orchestrating her initial meeting with Jonathan. Told from both Cass’s and Jonathan’s perspectives, the story follows Cass as she leaves her posh New York apartment and begins an affair with a manipulative Hollywood producer in L.A. In Cass’s absence, Jonathan reaches out to his high school sweetheart and attempts to reconcile a disturbing indiscretion from his prep school past. Told in direct prose, Friedland’s emotionally fraught narrative shows how seemingly insignificant events inform and hide the “deep, dark truths... that reveal [the] weaknesses in the fibers” in the Coynes’ relationship. In the end, their intermission might have to be permanent. Although the characters are frustratingly feckless and the ending is too abrupt, Friedland insightfully dissects motives, lies, and love in this engrossing deconstruction of a bad marriage. Agent: Stefanie Lieberman, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (July)