Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Club Report: The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

Oh my word! Did we ever have the most rousing book club last week... EVER! And I've been doing this a LONG time! (Tenth anniversary for book club coming up soon! I need to plan a party!)

Yes, this book caused a LOT of feelings to surface and we started out with a bang and the momentum continued for quite awhile. And so many people came too! (I think there were 12 of us all together.) And everyone had something to say and a fairly strong opinion. Imagine us all talking and nearly yelling, all at once! Whew. It was intense! I loved it!!

So, for those of you not familiar with this book, here's a quick summary. (And my original review of the book here if you are interested.) We have Becky, a mom of four kids living her quiet and simple Mormon life in Utah when one day, she sells a screenplay and goes to LA for some business about that and who does she run into there? None other than her Hollywood crush! And over a period of time, even years, they become very good friends. Like.. .REALLY good friends.

What does this do to her relationship to her husband? And the actor's wife? And is it possible to just be friends? And if circumstances are such that they could actually be together... then what?

Well. Let me just say that as Mormon wives and mothers living here in Utah, this books strikes a big chord. I'm wondering if it does so outside our religious culture. If you have knowledge of this, let me know! Does it make book club ladies crazy in other states and other religions? Tell us!

Anyway. We had fun pondering the following questions:

  • So, CAN men and women "just" be friends? Someone said her husband said that for guys, this is not really possible. And even if you could just be friends, what does that do to the relationship with your spouse? And even if it can be all innocent and platonic, what about the emotional reliance you give to that person? We decided no, this is not a good thing. It crosses a line.
  • Were we very much manipulated throughout the story? So many things conveniently happen. So many things are so very unrealistic to real life. So many things just would NOT, could not happen. But in this story, every thing happens to make it mess with us in a big way. Is this right? Or is this just story telling? How far can a fictional book go with the manipulation before it makes you crazy?
  • Is the wife relate-able? When I read this the first time, I thought so. It almost felt like reading about my own life, minus a few things. But the book club ladies said  NO WAY JOSE!! This lady is so far from the "normal" mom that that it made them, nearly all of them in fact, want to chuck the book at the wall. This Becky was too perfect, making pies and cleaning house and looking good and having an actor fall in love with her. No way. 
  • And they all agreed that the portrayal of Mormon life and culture made us look way too weird. Weirder than we already are! Some stuff was okay, but other stuff was just not right at all. 
  • Many people used the words "retarded" and "disappointed" and "angry" to describe how they felt about this book. However, there was a couple (one maybe) that loved it and several that had no feelings whatsoever about it. Take it or leave it they said.
  • However, we did have fun imagining what it would be like to be friends with our Hollywood crush! Some names that we threw out for possibilities: Matt Bomer, Zachary Levi, Johnny Depp, Sean Connery, Ewan McGregor, Josh Groban :), Richard Armitage, Ryan Gosling, and I can't remember who else! But we do know, almost for a fact, that Shannon Hale had Colin Firth in mind when writing this book. So there you go.

Bottom line: In my humble opinion, a book is good by the very definition that it strikes up strong emotions in the reader, be those positive or negative ones. If that is the case, this book is really good! At any rate, if you haven't read it yet and are looking for a good book club discussion book, check this one out and then let us know what you think!


  1. Wow, that does sound like an exciting book club! I totally agree that a good book has the ability to strike up a variety of emotions. Great thoughts :)

  2. Love book clubs like that. This book didn't bother me with its content or strained premise but the dialogue was so sitcomish. I didn't believe any of the characters and I like fluffy romances.

  3. I haven't liked any of Shannon Hale's adult books. The way this shows Mormonism and being a housewife is so inane. Want to study whether people can be friends with the opposite sex watch When Harry Met Sally. Norah Ephron is brilliant on that topic.

  4. I did find the main character kind of unrelatable, but it was still a fun social experiment.

  5. It was definitely a fun book club gathering. You wrote it up much more exciting than I did, lol.

    And, I forgot that Sean Connery, Johnny Depp and Colin Firth were mentioned.

  6. I did like the book but I thought It rambled a little bit there in the middle. My Hollywood crush? Harrison Ford. I love his quirky little smile and the way he walks and especially the way he runs :D

    1. Kelley: I used to love Harrison Ford, but not as much any more.

  7. I'm so jealous you've had a book club for ten years! Do you have any advice for starting one?

    1. DoingDewey: I wrote a post about this! Here's the link:

  8. Those are some great questions to ponder over! I don't like it when too many things conveniently happen in a story. It tends to pull me out of the book I'm reading.



Related Posts with Thumbnails