Book Club: As Long As We Both Shall Live

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A successful book club choice! There are some really great lines in here, for instance, “You can’t be married to someone without sometimes wanting to kill them.

The very first sentence hooks you right away, “If you try to kill your wife without a plan, you will fail.” and certainly this one is a gem! “You could call it Stockholm Syndrome, or you could call it marriage.”

So, yes, I really enjoyed this one and burned through it in just a few short days. We start in 1995 with Matt and his first wife who dies of suspicious circumstances and then quickly move into 2018 where Matt’s second wife has accidentally fallen from a cliff. Or has she? Then it alternates at a quick clip from 1995 to 2018. So is Matt truly just an unlucky guy or is he a murderer? This structure of going back and forth between his two wives was what had me hooked from the start.

I especially loved the three detective characters – Abraham Reid for the 1995 parts and Spengler and Loren in the 2018 parts. I enjoyed Loren’s back story and felt it added just the right amount of grit. Loren is the old-school cop/detective, the rough and angry guy with a reputation steeped in mystery. He was a great contrast to Spengler’s back story, portraying her as a more current type of cop – female, for one thing, and also navigating her way through a career steeped in sexism. She’s great at pointing out the misogyny and sexism found in everyday life and especially in her job as a homicide detective in this previously male-dominated field.

A homeless man strolled past on the sidewalk and saw her sitting there. He grabbed his crotch and shook his hips in her direction, stuck out his tongue in a leer. It was like some men were conditioned to be disgusting and disrespectful to women. She wasn’t in the mood. Not that she was ever in the mood for it. Without putting the phone down, Spengler pulled her gun from the holster at her waist and pointed it at him, mimed pulling the trigger. Bang. He ran in the opposite direction, giving her a terrified look over his shoulder. He wouldn’t be shaking his dick at anyone again in the near future. It was unfortunate, but sometimes a woman had to take extreme measures to teach a man a lesson.

Women were called the fairer sex, sometimes the lesser sex. They were called delicate and weak and frail. If you wanted to insult someone, you’d tell them not to act like a girl. Don’t run like a girl, don’t throw like a girl, cry like a girl. But when something awful happened it was easy to blame a woman. Women were seductresses, temptresses, witches. They lured men in and turned them into pigs, or their vaginas were lined with teeth and they’d chomp men alive. These women were drowned, they were burned at the stake, they were called hysterical and given lobotomies and shock treatment. A woman could be an easy scapegoat. Or they were ignored, and that might even be worse. Looked over, told to quiet down, to keep their mouths and their legs shut. It started young, and it never stopped, did it?

It had these pockets of goodness scattered all throughout, and although I completely guessed the plot twist (it’s very reminiscent of Gone Girl) just before the halfway mark, I didn’t care. That would be because I loved all those lines and paragraphs and I really loved the structure of its told, especially in the beginning. This style of alternating time periods falls to the side a bit as we move more into the current time searching for Marie, Matt’s second wife. Overall, I completely enjoyed watching everything unfold. It had just the right amount of grittiness to keep me burning through the pages.

Hurray for another successful book club book! However, I think our next pick should be from a different style/genre. As Long As We Both Shall Live is the second thriller we’ve read recently (although the other was also very successful – The Last Mrs. Parrish), and I think if we stay in this lane we may grow too fatigued with this style? The challenge is on now to find another great book club pick, but possibly from a different genre. Any suggestions?