The Stuff That Never Happened
By Maddie Dawson
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780307393685, 336pp.)
Publication Date: August 2, 2011
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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What if you were married to a wonderful husband for twenty-eight years but in love with another man? What if you were in love with them both?
Annabelle McKay knows she shouldn’t have any complaints. She’s been in a stable marriage that’s lasted almost three decades and has provided her with two wonderful children, thousands of family dinners around a sturdy oak table, and a husband so devoted that he schedules lovemaking into his calendar every Wednesday morning. Other wives envy the fact that Grant is not the type of man who would ever cheat on her or leave her for a younger woman. The trouble is Annabelle isn’t sure she wants to be married to Grant anymore. The trouble is she’s still in love with someone else.
In the early tumultuous years of her marriage, Annabelle carried on a clandestine affair with the one person whose betrayal would hurt her husband the most. When it ended, she and Grant found their way back together and made a pact that they would never speak of that time again. But now years later, with her children grown and gone, and an ominous distance opening between them, she can’t help but remember those glorious, passionate days and wonder if she chose the right man.
Then, when called to New York City to help care for her pregnant daughter, Annabelle bumps into her old lover. Offered a second chance at an unforgettable love, she must decide between the man who possesses her heart and the husband who has stood squarely by her side. A journey into the what-ifs that haunt us all, The Stuff That Never Happened is an intricate, heartfelt examination of modern marriage that brims with truths about the nature of romantic love.
MADDIE DAWSON is the author of Opposite of Maybe. She lives in Connecticut.
- Annabelle and Grant McKay got married during the late 1970s at a time when society was in upheaval. Even Annabelle’s mother tells her that marriage is a bad deal for women, and accuses Annabelle of getting married just to rebel against her. Annabelle insists she’s marrying Grant because she’s in love with him. Do you think Annabelle and Grant were in love with each other? How did their respective upbringings lead them to expect different things from marriage? What was it about Grant that drew Annabelle to him? And why would Grant have wanted Annabelle to marry him?
"[A] deceptively bouncing, ultimately wrenching novel [that] will grab you at page one....The phrase 'summer read' seems invented for this debut."
"Nicely written...enjoyable prose and keen characterization."
“Both tender and exquisite, Maddie Dawson’s triumphant debut, The Stuff That Never Happened, is a pitch-perfect look into the choices we made in our past and the consequences that they carry long into the future. I loved every page.”
—Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of The One That I Want
"The Stuff That Never Happened is unlike a lot of novels I read - I was never quite sure what was going to happen, and in that way, I found it compelling and compulsive to read. Often when I'm halfway through a book, I'm fairly certain of the characters' paths. This time, the lives encountered were surprising, illuminating, and always believable."
—Susan Straight, author of A Million Nightingales
“What a joy it is to discover Maddie Dawson. In the best storytelling tradition of writers like Elizabeth Berg and Anne Tyler, Dawson delivers a fast-paced, unflinching, often hilarious novel about the challenges of love, parenthood, and staying true to yourself in a marriage.”
—Holly Robinson, author of The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter: A Memoir
“'I can admit that I went there hungry for the drama of him, that I craved that heightened sense of loving and being loved again,' Maddie Dawson's middleaged heroine confesses. In trying to make sense of one married woman's relationship to her old flame, The Stuff That Never Happened is a paean to family happiness as much as romance.”
—Stewart O'Nan, author of Songs for the Missing