The breakdown of a marriage is a painful thing to watch, especially when it could have been avoided with open, honest conversation.
Francesca Sullivan gets the romance-novel happily-ever-after.
After losing her beloved mother, she walks away from all she knew and starts over. A few years later Fran meets William Browne, a new attorney at the firm she works for… and her new boss.
The relationship is a slow build for obvious reasons, but love wins in the end. Fran takes a position at another firm… when she claims the title of Mrs. William Browne. Add a home in the country and frequent travel to exotic locales, and life is perfect.
Except it wasn’t.
I do not doubt Fran and Will’s love for each other. But I found it confusing that two people in a loving marriage who spent so much time together never had a truly honest conversation.
Will, at eight years Fran’s senior, is in a rush to fill their home with children.
Fran isn’t sure when or IF she wants children. But she wants to make Will happy, so, yes, let’s have children!
The attempts are many and the results depressing, until the last one where devastation quickly steals the Browne’s joy, and their marriage topples from its shaky foundation.
A yoga retreat (in SPAIN) Fran volunteered to teach to help her get back into life becomes the opportunity for her to get away from Will and clear her head. (Honestly, I don’t believe she had to ‘go’ anywhere. They were doing a bang-up job of ignoring each other while living in the same house which, of course, was the problem.)
Fran and Will each endure their own personal hell while they’re apart.
Will deserved every bit of misery he suffered in the aftermath—he doesn’t get a pass–but to his credit, he makes no excuses—doesn’t try to build a defense or place blame.
Fran doesn’t indulge in playing the victim, but she could. To her credit, she forces herself to admit the role she played in what came before.
The Brownes show such strength of character after they separate, I wanted to scream, “Where was this attitude a hundred pages ago?” HA!
So, while Will spirals into a depressed shadow of himself, Fran is in Spain instructing students in the nuances of yoga and fighting off a wicked case of ‘food poisoning.’
My knowledge of yoga principles is limited—emphasis on limited—so I did not understand what made people travel to another country just to do what they did back home.
In the end, it didn’t matter because I don’t believe it was about the yoga, but the human interaction.
An eclectic cast of supporting characters give The Things We Need to Say the room it needs to breathe. Without realizing it, Fran was able to glean insight and wisdom from David, Constance, Joy, Elizabeth, Katrin, and Molly. Even Amado and Jake were great sources of inspiration.
Fran shares her troubles and has conversations… with everyone but Will.
Will wants to talk to Fran but doesn’t trust himself not to fall back into his pattern of hearing what he wants to hear.
This is where this engrossing read lost a star with me.
Except for the devastating conversation before Fran left, all that is known of Fran and Will is told through internal thoughts and flashbacks.
We see the budding romance blossom and new paths taken. We also get to see the conversations that didn’t go far enough, and the admissions not made.
As Fran works through her demons while in Spain, she’s gifted with tiny epiphanies which lighten her emotional burden and allow her to give voice to her guilt, doubt, and frustrations.
And boy, does she… to Elizabeth, Amado, Katrin, and even Jake. Discussing one’s problems with third parties isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can provide much-needed insight the way it did for Fran Browne. (Special mention here to Mia, who didn’t allow a language barrier to keep her from supplying support Fran didn’t even know she needed.)
Will leans on his younger brother, Jaime, who’s dealing with similar issues, but never misses a chance to give his honest and sometimes brutal (and humorous) opinion.
But while this journey makes the Brownes see where the mistakes were made, and where problems took root which were never dealt with, when it is at last time for the things we need to say… the scene fades to black.
And I felt cheated.
The one conversation in the story I’d waited for and it’s not shown.
The telling (or assumptions) took a bit of the shine off this read for me.
Technically, editing and grammar are sound. Formatting was an issue and gave me pause, but as I received my ARC from Netgalley, I’m giving them a wink and a nod that this isn’t the finished product.
Regardless, this intimate look at the dynamics of a marriage built on sand and dreams is not one to be missed. The writing is strong, evoking the gamut of emotions which make a read so enjoyable. Clear your schedule and spend some time with Fran and Will—two people who finally stop struggling to get back to what they were when they realize who they need to be… themselves.
Sometimes the things we never say are the most important.
Fran loves Will with all her heart. They had a whirlwind romance, a perfect marriage and a wonderful life. Until everything changed. Now Fran needs to find her way again and teaching a yoga retreat in Spain offers her just that. Leaving behind a broken marriage she has some very important decisions to make.
Will needs his wife, he needs her to open up to him if they’re to ever return to the ways things once were. But he may have damaged any possibility he had of mending their relationship and now Fran is in Spain and Will is alone.
As both Fran and Will begin to let go of a life that could have been, fate may just find a way of bringing them back together.
Perfect for fans of Katie Marsh, Amanda Prowse and Sheila O’Flanagan
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Publication Day – May 11, 2018