• Here’s the Story

    I wrote a book called The Forest for the Trees and it’s an advice book for writers. For four years, I blogged every day about the agony of writing and publishing, and the self loathing that afflicts most writers. A community of like-minded malcontents gathered and thus ensued a grand conversation. Now, the most popular posts are gathered in Greatest Hits ( a work in progress) Gluttons for punishment can scroll through the archives. If I've learned one thing about writers, it's this: we really are all alone. Love, Betsy
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I’ll Love You With All the Madness in My Soul

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“VOW is brilliant from both a literary and a psychological perspective. It certainly takes emotional honesty to write with such candor about the drama and allure of one’s personal adulterous experiences, but this book is more than simply honest; it is also searingly well told. A tremendous achievement.”

– ELIZABETH GILBERT, Eat Pray Love

 

Vow is so tender and sharp, so suffused with our common humanity, and so precise. Plump is also unfailingly honest about what affairs give us and what they take away. This book is a real gift.

                                                                            Elizabeth Weil. No Cheating, No Dying

“Metaphors and similes and original descriptions can’t defend the reader against the sheer pain of broken vows. Wendy Plump creates a beautifully wrought word painting from which, I, for one, came away with a new slant on ‘marital vows.’ Couples should read this book.” – Carly Simon

Congratulations to Wendy Plump. Her first book, the memoir VOW,  is publishing today. It was the first memoir I took on in ages and the reason is the writing. In telling the story of her infidelity and her husband’s subsequent  infidelity, Plump goes far beyond the cliches associated with cheating and cracks it wide open. What begins as a voyeuristic look at a marriage coming apart ends as a deep portrait of betrayal and loss written with elegance, measure, and poise. 

What most interests you in memoirs: the prose, the story, the intimacy? 

 

REDBOOK ReadsVow

Wendy Plump’s heartbreaking memoir of marital infidelity is a disarmingly honest, beautifully insightful, and disturbingly real portrayal of the dissolution of a relationship — and a family.

By Hannah Hickok

Crack open Vow and prepare to be quickly carried away by Plump’s vivid prose, so-close-you-can-hear-it voice, and suspenseful storytelling skills. You’ll find yourself sneaking a page or two in the elevator, during a walk from point A to B, and trying to avoid drifting off to sleep so you can turn one more page The super-hot topic — cheating — combined with descriptive, at times poetic writing makes Vow a thought-provoking, compelling read. The events, which Plump describes with amazing clarity and detail, are by turns gut-wrenching and addictive. It feels like reading your favorite TV soap opera, except this time it’s happening to real people — and you’re hearing the saga from a close friend over coffee. Plump welcomes us to her world with impressive openness and honesty, cataloguing the start of her relationship with her husband, Bill, which begins in college and lasts over 20 years, ending with an explosive discovery that shatters their relationship and changes both their lives forever. She chronicles her affairs in the early years of their marriage, before their two sons were born, with a handful of dreamy, very different men — all of whom brought lust, passion, and excitement into her life. Plump reflects on these decisions in a matter-of-fact yet emotionally lucid way that is nothing short of fascinating.

But the real kicker comes — and we’re not spoiling anything here as it’s advertised on the back of the book — when Plump finds out about her husband’s affair. She discovers that Bill has a second family just a few short blocks away from their suburban home, and his mistress of a decade is now the mother of Bill’s third, youngest child. Needless to say, Plump’s life — as well as her kids’ and their extended family and friends’ — are thrown into unimaginable turmoil, and Plump comes face-to-face with a decision she never thought she’d have to make, despite her own infidelity: the end of her marriage. The fact that such events are “unimaginable” is one reason that I think every woman should read this memoir. Does merely thinking about this sort of thing send chills down your spine, as it does mine? Although Plump never imagined this happening either, she has the guts to tell her story in a way that’s real, relatable, and will make you think hard about your own temptations.

Read Wendy’s story without judgment, as a study in relationships and the ways we can, if we’re not very careful, hurt the people we love the most.

Read the Modern Love piece on which the book is based:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/fashion/12Modern.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

23 Responses

  1. congratulations, betsy, on another winner.

    “What most interests you in memoirs: the prose, the story, the intimacy? ”

    i don’t read many memoirs. as with much of what i read, what interests me most is the combination of what is written and the way in which it is written. i’m a form-and-content guy. pot roast and veggies, a balanced meal.

  2. I remember reading that piece in the Sunday Styles section way back when. I am not much of a memoir reader either. When I do read them, it is the story that draws me in. When it is coupled with wonderful writing, then you’ve really got something.

  3. Yes, congratulations indeed!

    What most interests you in memoirs: the prose, the story, the intimacy? ”

    I’ve rekindled a love for memoirs recently – and that came from this blog, in which I learned about Lucy Grealy and then, of course, Ann Patchett. I guess that means 1) I’ll get VOW, and 2) I’ll never get to the end of my TBR pile.

    I don’t think the story matters as much as how it’s told. If the writing pulls me in, I can read about growing onions on an onion farm. For me, it’s the prose. Start with that being stellar and I’m all in.

  4. It’s all about the story for me– keep reading bc I gotta know what happens. I’m hoping others think that way too as that’s the mo for my book that I’ve just completed first draft of. But throw in steller prose, that’s gravy. I will read Vow to know her story and will be pleasantly surprised to enjoy gorgeous prose while I’m at it!

  5. Congratulations to you and Plump.
    Words beautifully written and beautifully written words realized are what this is all about.

  6. Everyone’s put it so well…make me feel, laugh, cry, something — and make me love the journey.

  7. I read memoirs for the story, the journey and the outcome.

  8. why have you taken on so few memoirs?

  9. I haven’t read many memoirs either, but this one sounds way too close to the bone. Sounds like it will do very well. Good luck.

  10. Holy shit, I must read this book!

    • Oh, wait, there was a question. Sorry. In memoir, I look for voice. And a somewhat transgressive view of the world. The unexpected.

      • I’m with you, Empress. I want a voice worth hearing for 200 or 300 pages. It can be literary and have a great story, but if the voice is lame, that’s the end of the line for me.

  11. My memoir also takes off today and it is about reaffirming love after 20 years of marriage! How ironic. I love Plump’s writing and can’t wait to read her book! Diana Bletter, The Mom Who Took Off On her Motorcycle, http://www.thebestchapter.com

  12. The story and the intimacy. Judging by the capsule review, “The Vow” seems to have both. One thing I realized is there are rules and there are no rules, what a person thinks and what they do are often two different things. An entirely different family and just blocks away, well, yeah, I’d be interested to see how that took off before it crashed and burned. And what rose from the ashes. This must have been a very difficult book to write.
    Congratulations to Wendy Plump and to you.

  13. I love memoirs, just as long as there’s a tragedy somewhere in it.

  14. Voice and tale and whatcomesafter. The disapppointment of the small dome that builds inside the shattered volcano, how we nurture it with strain gauges and temp sensors, and silly-pray to live to see the mountain whole again.

    Congratulations.

  15. I prefer fiction to memoirs, because if the story is almost too painful to bear, I can at least tell myself that it didn’t really happen. When I do read memoirs, it’s always about the story. Voice is a bonus. “Vow” sounds like a fascinating story. And that cover! I love the cover.

  16. Congrats! I agree with macdougalstreetbaby, the just blocks away part is so FUBAR! Must read. Congrats! In terms of what I look for in a memoir: I will devour a page-turner like an order of beef tenderloin risotto after a bout of carb deprivation but most days I am happy to snack on morsels of beautiful prose through out the day just because they are lovely and intimate. I am reading Charlotte au Chocolat right now, about the writer’s girlhood in a restaurant called Upstairs at the Pudding. I love it. Who eats smoked pheasant and marrons glace in pools of cream at table A1 and then takes a nap under the bar? Charlotte! I love fiction, but the fact that memoir is the writer’s first hand experience makes it so compelling to me.

  17. Congrats to you and Ms. Plump. I just hopped over and read the first few pages so you know I have to order it now and find out what happened. The narrator’s voice is so engaging I feel like I’m sitting on her couch, listening.

  18. This is a stunning book and should be read by all therapists who work in the area of relationship problems as well as everyone embarking on a long-term relationship or thinking about an affair. I think it is so important I have blogged about it in my blog “Trouble In Mind” on the Psychology Today website (see http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/trouble-in-mind/201303/are-affairs-really-worth-it)

  19. Great recommendation; added it to my TBR list. Thank you!

  20. Wonderful, what a website it is! This website presents useful information to us, keep it up.

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