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To Have and To Hold    by Jane Green Amazon.com order for
To Have and To Hold
by Jane Green
Order:  USA  Can
Broadway, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

A few years ago, I read Jemima J by Jane Green and I absolutely loved it. Entertaining and easy to read, it had a certain depth that seemed to transcend your typical chick lit novel. I intended to read more of Green's books, but for no particular reason, never got around to it. I eagerly opened To Have and To Hold, found it thoroughly enjoyable, and was not not surprised to learn that it is a blockbuster in Britain.

The protagonist is the perfectly likeable and sweet Alice. At the beginning of the novel, Alice is about to marry Joe. Though she had a huge crush on Joe as a teenager, he never knew of it nor paid Alice the time of day. It was not that Joe disliked Alice in their youth; he simply had charm and looks that allowed him to date the most desirable young women (or at least the most eager young women). Alice was not particularly attractive or outgoing as a teenager, so while Joe was a friend of her brother, Alice simply never hit his radar.

Years later, Joe and Alice meet again. They are still the same - he is dashing and handsome, and she is meek and mousy. However, Alice intrigues Joe this time around and a relationship ensues that leads to engagement and marriage all on Joe's terms. Alice is happily blindsided by his affections and can hardly believe that she will marry her teenage crush (who is also wealthy, successful, charming and handsome). However, Joe expects Alice to change to fit his image of a trophy wife: dieting, designer clothes, posh lunches and mingling with the in crowd in London society. While Alice quickly gets into this new lifestyle, it really isn't her. She prefers simple pursuits such as living in the country, gardening, and cooking from scratch, while Joe loves the city, brand names, and first class treatment.

Despite their difference, Alice is a dutiful wife who plays the part that Joe expects of her. But Joe has a fatal flaw: he is unfaithful to Alice and thinks nothing of a quick fling with another woman. When a notorious indiscretion is exposed between Joe and a coworker, the former is transferred from London to New York, with Alice in tow. Alice's life is turned upside down, but there is no choice in the matter if she wants to remain with Joe. As time passes and Alice meets her best friend's boyfriend, she becomes aware of what real love is like. She must decide whether she will continue playing the role of trophy wife for unfaithful Joe or whether to forge out on her own.

To Have and To Hold is a page-turner and one cannot help but like Alice and rapidly flip to see where life with Joe will lead her next. Green does a superb job of crafting an entertaining, witty and insightful novel of a modern marriage on thin ice. I certainly will not wait long before picking up another novel by this author and heartily recommend this one as a wonderful, quality summer beach read.

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