Synopsis (from GoodReads):She’d made it sound as though her husband would be joining them for dinner. She’d made it sound that way on purpose, and then she arrived alone.
Los Angeles, 1934. Mary Frances is young, restlessly married, and returning from her first sojourn in France. She is hungry, and not just for food: she wants Tim, her husband Al’s charming friend, who encourages her writing and seems to understand her better than anyone. After a night’s transgression, it’s only a matter of time before Mary Frances claims what she truly desires, plunging all three of them into a tangled triangle of affection that will have far-reaching effects on their families, their careers, and their lives.
Set in California, France, and the Swiss Alps, The Arrangement is a sparkling, sensual novel that explores the complexities of a marriage and the many different ways in which we love. Writing at the top of her game, Ashley Warlick gives us a completely mesmerizing story about a woman well ahead of her time, who would go on to become the legendary food writer M. F. K. Fisher.
Review:The Arrangement is a book about hunger: hunger for love, hunger for sex, hunger for sensations, and hunger to create. Set in the 1930's, the story follows Mary Frances, a young wife who will become a talented writer. Her journey to attain that is fraught with obstacles. Her husband Al is also a writer but, given the era, Al expects his writing to be important, while his wife's would just be a hobby. He also expects Mary Francis to get pregnant and settle down as a mother. But what does Mary Frances want?
When I first read the synopsis of this book, I thought that Mary Frances was selfish for having an affair, putting her desires ahead of her marriage. But I would say that Al was also selfish and self-centered. He never treated his wife as an equal. When Tim enters the picture and treats Mary Frances's opinions as worthy, it is no wonder she wants him.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I think today we forget how hard it was for women to be treated with respect and honored for their opinions. This book shows a woman struggling to make herself be heard, letting her needs dictate her actions (much like any man), and then trying to figure out how to deal with the aftermath. While I DO NOT ADVOCATE AFFAIRS, I do understand how desperate she was to be valued and to matter.
This book is superbly written. There is heat between Mary Frances and Tim (Al's best friend) from the get go. Their sex scenes are hot, without being crass. I appreciate that as a reader. I also loved to read how Mary Frances developed as a writer. From her realization that one must observe everything carefully, to her understanding that to write the truth is to betray her husband, we see how she becomes a master story-teller.
I was confused, at times, when the story shifted between the 1930's to Mary Frances's later years. I think that was because it was abrupt and in the middle of some chapters. This, however, could easily have been because I was reading an ARC and the formatting would be different in the finished book.
This book will make you appreciate how far women, and relationships, have come in the last few decades. In this day and age, it is unthinkable for a husband to be so dismissive of his wife, but I think that was the norm at the time the book takes place.
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Recommendation: For fans of historical fiction and of women finding their voice, this is a must read.