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The (Re)Model Marriage takes an odd perspective as it compares revitalizing a troubled marriage to remodeling an old house. Each chapter begins with a home improvement tip and though the book is listed as a Romance, it really isn’t. It might be classified as a relationship story or Women’s fiction. It also contains a lot of tips and details concerning home renovation. It’s certainly a different take on a relationship story.
Kirk and Jamie have devoted their time and attention for eighteen years to raising their daughter who is about to graduate from high school. She is the center of both their worlds and was born after years of trying and failing to conceive until they finally resorted to artificial insemination. Kirk’s career has become an obsession as well and Jamie has devoted all of her time to housework, cooking, and whatever their daughter wants or needs. As the couple pursued different interests, they’ve drifted apart.
For years there has been a leak in the bathroom, carpet and tile are old and worn, the floor plan is awkward, but Kirk has had no time or interest in making the repairs needed. He isn’t home enough to care much about the appearance or function of the house. Jamie is frustrated because she spends almost all of her time in a house that is falling apart, is inconvenient, and doesn’t really fit their needs. The old craftsman house was a wedding present from Kirk’s mother and Jamie wouldn’t dare change anything even if she knew how. Neither one expresses their thoughts to each other anymore or even bothers to inform the other of where he or she is going if one runs an errand.
The situation comes to a head over an argument over the leaking water in the bathroom. With their daughter soon to graduate and go away to school they decide it might be best to each go his or her separate way and they set a date to file for a divorce right after their daughter’s graduation. They agree that with the end of their marriage, they’ll have to sell the house and split what they get for it. Obviously they can’t sell it in its dilapidated condition. Kirk begins working on repairs and eventually Jamie becomes involved in laying tile and various other projects as well. As they work together in preparation for their divorce, they get to know each other and their home in a way they never had before. As they unravel secrets in their old house and in their marriage, they learn new skills. Then disaster strikes as they learn the fertility clinic they used to conceive their daughter also kept a huge secret.
The characters in this novel aren’t bad people. They’ve simply developed a kind of tunnel vision where they only see the world around them as it affects them individually and have grown blind to the wants and needs of their spouse. This has made them secretive and inconsiderate without realizing they are. They aren’t selfish and self-centered to be mean, but have developed a narrow view that only allows them to see what directly affects them. It is insinuated the couple married on the basis of intense physical attraction without really getting to know each other, but as they work together to prepare their house for sale they learn how to communicate and discover not only the house’s potential but also learn who the other partner truly is and their marriage’s potential.
The plot is simple and predictable, but holds the reader’s interest. It’s a different approach to revitalizing a marriage that has gone stale with time and a lack of attention. They discover the damage twenty-four years of neglect as done to their house and to their marriage. Readers looking for something a little different, and especially those who enjoy the home makeover shows on TV won’t want to miss this one.
Maria Hoagland earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Brigham Young University. This is her fifth published book. She and her husband work together remodeling houses and she has lived in five different states.
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THE REMODEL MARRIAGE by Maria Hoagland, published by Red Leaves Press, 294 pages, soft cover $14.99. Also available for e-Readers.