Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Where or When by Anita Shreve

If nothing else, Anita Shreve is a gifted writer of details. You know where you are, who you are with and all the little nuances that accompany the people and places of her books. I was especially aware of that reading Where or When.
The premise of the story brings to mind if you could reunite with your first love, what would it be like? Would you fall in love again? Would you be given a second chance? Sian and Charles first met 31 years ago at summer camp. They were 14 and camp lasted a week. I think most of us can relate to a romance like that. Young and in love for the first time. Surely many have even googled a name from the past just to see where they are now. The question is would you act on it?
I struggle with stories like this that empathize with the notion of an affair. Both characters in this story are married. Both have children. Very often our world glamorizes affairs and promotes love at all costs. But what of the love in the marriages? What of the sanctity of it? We so often forget that love and marriage is a lot of work. We have to choose to love and continue to love each other. The newness of love fades over time. The bonds that you create with your spouse needs to stay strong, even when you aren't feeling particularly loving toward them. The spouses in this story have done nothing wrong towards the main characters. They are just being in their marriages. These are questions I would pose in a discussion group for this book. Do you root for Sian and Charles and their lost love? Or, do you root for Harriet and Stephen and their marriages? Can you be entirely satisfied with a book like this? Is there a right answer? Do you throw away everything you have with your family? Change it permanently? Interesting questions. What are your thoughts?

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