Review of IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN WHAT HE SAID by Eden Collinsworth
Arcade Publishing, June 2006
Review by Cathy Richard Dodson
An interesting look at obsessive love, It Might Have Been What He Said explores the marriage of Isabel and James, an unlikely match that comes close to ending in tragedy. As the novel opens, Isabel, a publishing executive, meets with her psychologist to try and understand an attempt to kill her husband. Early in the story, we're not certain if James is alive or dead, or if Isabel is free or imprisoned, but as the story progresses, the reader learns that luckily for Isabel, the event took place in Paris, a city that doesn't prosecute certain crimes of passion. But how did two people who supposedly love each other come to this state of affairs?
At their initial meeting, James is quite the ladies man and close to being an alcoholic, a freelance writer from Southern background, whose name holds prestige but no money. Isabel has risen from the bottom rung of the ladder to the top, and runs a small publishing company, though her family has enough wealth she ought never have needed to work, had her father not insisted she make her own way in the world. So Isabel, who comes from money but is willing to work, meets James, who isn't.
While it isn't love at first sight, it's almost love at second, and James does indeed attempt to change his ways in order to make their marriage work. Though everyone thinks the marriage will fail, the couple seem devoted to one another, and in time they have a child they both love. The marriage appears to work well, though Isabel is the primary breadwinner, and James never seems to be able to focus enough to be the successful writer he hopes to be.
But when James' drinking begins to invade their lives after a long hiatus, Isabel's pent-up frustration breaks loose and puts not only James' life at stake, but that of their relationship as well. When she decides to leave Paris and return to New York, to give them a break, James decides he can't try to live up to her standards any longer.
This book didn't thrill me or really draw me in with story or characters. While I can relate to the idea that sometimes people make bad choices in love, and stay with them long after they should, I don't feel this book had much to say beyond that. Though certainly well written, with a certain quirky style, if I was looking for an interesting story, I doubt this is one I'd spend my money on.
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