Five Days, by Douglas Kennedy

A long time ago, I enjoyed  A special relationship.  This was my first Douglas Kennedy reading and I remember having liked it. Especially the way he writes, the fact that we could guess he was a journalist because his sentences were short and to the point. It was also interesting to read a realistic story with all its “bitter” sides. And I also must say that I was impressed by the author’s faculty to put himself in a woman shoes just like that. Even if I’ve never experienced a baby blue, his description of it appeared to be right. So I wanted to try again and read his last novel, Five Days.

Before starting to talk about about Five Days, I would like to precise that what I’ll say about it is very personal, it’s my opinion. I’m not a literature expert nor a Douglas Kennedy’s one. And in order not to become a “spoiler”, I must warn anyone who didn’t read the book yet that I’ve probably told too much about the story in the following review.

So, what’s Five Days about ? As it has been published at the end of 2013,  you probably have heard about it already. Long story short, it’s almost like a fairy tale without the happy ending. We could sum it up like this : Once upon a time, Laura, who is unhappy since she lives with a man she doesn’t love for so many years, meet Richard whose marriage also is a disaster. They fall in love the weekend they meet. It’s almost love at first sight. So the question is, will they decide to change their lives and get together ?

The encounter between Laura and Richard happens a weekend when Laura has to go to Boston to attend a professional seminar. She almost immediately meets Richard. And the seduction begins… First there is the “reluctant” phase. Laura don’t really like the guy. Then, there is the “talk talk talk” phase. They finally have a drink together and they can’t stop talking about their lives. Time’s even flying away. After that, there is the relooking phase which is the beginning of “change”. Laura helps Richard to find clothes reflecting his real him.”Change” seems to be the Leit Motiv in this book by the way. Finally, there is the passion phase. “Love in itself” as it’s often said in the novel. Nothing’s exceptional here.

The situation is exactly how we expect it to be. It’s even a little too much. We’ve seen that kind of scenario in so many romantic stories. I’m even a bit surprised that they didn’t bump into each other, so that Laura could have drop some books and Richard could have helped her to pick them up. Plus, the plot takes a long time coming.

Romantic situations are “clichés”. For instance, during the “talk talk talk phase”, when they get to know each other, their discussion makes me think of something I would call the “me too” chat. They both love literature and words, they both even wrote at some point, they both dream to go to Paris, they both have a son who suffer from psychological issues, they’re both unhappy in their marriages, they both think they don’t deserve happiness… What a coincidence ! So they match perfectly.

I must admit I was relieved to find an ounce of realism at the end of the book even if I still was disappointed to be only surprised twice by the entire novel. The first thing I didn’t expect (but I really was hoping it) was Richard saying he “can’t”, and the second was Laura and Norm, the artist, not getting together while they flirted a little. I also agree with the author about the fact that we all must ask ourselves very frequently if we’re really happy or if something’s missing in our lives. And I believe in the power of “hope” as well. Besides, it makes me think of the attraction law (I wrote a french article about it  “La loi de l’attraction comme philosophie de vie”).

So, when according to Frederic Beigbeder love only lasts 3 years, to Douglas Kennedy it can take five days to fall in love. The idea of “fast romance” seems very idealistic to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve never experienced middle aged crisis yet, or because I haven’t been married that I can’t see the deepness of Five Days novel but I must say that I found the whole story very predictable. It’s like the cover of the book in which Douglas Kennedy asks “How long does it take to fall in love and leave your life behind ?”,  while the title of the novel gives us the answer which is “Five Days”.

Even if I didn’t really enjoyed reading  Five Days, I would like to  give a try to The Pursuit of Happiness. I would be interested in your opinions about this book, and about Five Days . Or maybe you have some other books recommendations ? If so, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or to send me an email at julietteslab@gmail.com.

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