Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Review: The Scarlet Letter Society

The Scarlet Letter SocietyAuthor: Mary T. McCarthy
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Polis Books

Meet Maggie, Eva, and Lisa, founders of The Scarlet Letter Society. Named as such due to their various infidelities, both physical and emotional, the “SLS” is these women’s refusal to be shamed like Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic tale of forbidden longing. Maggie is twice-divorced and juggling three lovers — one of whom is her first ex-husband. Eva is trapped in a loveless marriage and has turned to her young intern and a seductive French chef for satisfaction. Lisa dreams of one day becoming a mother, but her husband has more romantic interest in her footwear than he does in her. Once a month, these women meet at their local bookstore to discuss love, life, and literature. Through their friendships and liaisons, they attempt to gain insight into the curveballs life has thrown their way, and how each of them can find emotional and sexual fulfillment. A witty, insightful, and steamy novel about a group of women who have chosen to forge their own paths, and must deal with the ramifications of their past and present choices, The Scarlet Letter Society is for anyone who’s found their fairy tale isn’t quite what Disney had in mind.

They’re simply known as “The Scarlet Letter Society.”

The foot fetish had been a favorite topic at Scarlet Letter Society meetings. And it was funny, sort of, except for the part that it was actually happening to her.

“The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread.”

Mary McCarthy’s debut novel was everything I hoped it would be. I was anticipating a guilty pleasure read when my eye ran across this novel on Goodreads, and a guilty pleasure I got! This novel tours the lives of three women who participate in a monthly book club called The Scarlet Letter Society, where they allow the story of the adulteress Hester Prynne to inspire their mission. All three of these women, Lisa, Maggie, and Eva, are having affairs outside of their marriages and they meet monthly to discuss their many issues, travesties, and small victories. The story, however, is about more than just the cheating that goes on behind the scenes, but more about the troubles that each woman faces within her own marriage. Each of them are struggling to answer questions that have long gone unanswered. This club serves as a journey for these women, and together they find out more about themselves than they ever knew to be true.

The story is full of humor and talks about big issues that many families in today’s world face. Each of the leading ladies gets to talk readers through various chapters. The alternating viewpoints was very well-written. You might find yourself automatically connecting to one of these women over the others, and you might find yourself feeling sorry for them as well. This book was so easy to breeze through and when I was done I found myself still thinking about the characters and their stories. This book is not for the faint of heart and because I know a lot of readers that do not like stories that have anything to do with cheating spouses, I tell you to proceed with caution. However, I had no issues with this book and even though I disagree with the idea of stepping outside of a marriage, the reality is that it happens every day. Mary T. McCarthy handled a very tough topic in a very professional way!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Polis Books in exchange for my honest review***

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