Wouldn’t life be perfect if life was perfect? That is what Sarah Matthews thought her Happily Ever After would be now that she has the Perfect Marriage, Perfect Husband, Perfect Children, and Perfect Job. But being the envy of all your friends isn’t all it is cracked up to be when Sarah soon begins to question her satisfaction with all this perfection. After refusing to make a therapy appointment, her friends provide the next best thing: a month in Paris. Sarah jumps at the chance to spend time away from her Perfect Life to find what she lost in herself before she loses everything else.
I started reading Until the End of Forever knowing that Shannon Hart had written the story based on some women’s experience of boredom or discontent in their lives and marriages. I thought this was an interesting angle and assumed the novel would follow main character, Sarah Matthews, on an Eat, Pray, Love-ish journey of self discovery that possibly would include taking a French lover while away from her husband (ooh la-la!). Although it is refreshing that Sarah does not cheat on her husband and I appreciate that the message of Until the End of Forever is about how having it all means nothing unless you have yourself, I was disappointed with the execution of this message.
Sarah and her husband Rob are the envy of everyone who know them. Rob is loving, attentive, caring, and extremely attractive. From day one of meeting they were inseparable and Sarah never fully understood what he saw in her. I thought this was interesting since it suggested a certain lack of self-esteem on Sarah’s part in that she doesn’t consider herself worthy of love and affection from a handsome, kind man who loves her.
After getting married they had two extremely well behaved and eerily astute children. Sarah did give up the career she had before marrying Rob so that she could have more time with their children but is happy with the business she runs with her sister-in-law. So when Sarah starts having repeated nightmares where she is drowning while her family watches and Rob calls out to her stating, “we can’t save you. You have to save yourself” I was on board with following this woman’s journey of self discovery. I was hoping for a Feminine Mystique awakening as Sarah seemed to be suffering from “the problem that has no name” and was excited for her to get to Paris. Unfortunately, this is where everything sort of stalls.
After arriving in Paris nothing really happens other than Sarah begins to get home sick and regret her choice of leaving her family for the month. Sarah holds no deeper insight than she figures her emotions got the better of her, convincing herself something was wrong, when she should have just left well enough alone. She doesn’t even get to go back home of her own free will but is instead called back home early under tragic circumstances only to then deal with a petulant husband.
And this is the point where I put on my Grouchy Feminist pants: Rob and Sarah bothered me. Since Hart wrote some of Until the End of Forever from Rob’s point of view we know that Rob has dedicated everything he does in life to making Sarah happy. So, when Sarah tells him that she is no longer happy he takes this personally and lashes out in emotionally abusive ways. It drove me around the bend during the scene when she practically begs him for permission to go to Paris! I knew then that (for me) this was not a healthy relationship. I could not relate at all to the idea of asking my husband for permission to do anything especially when it has to do with creating my own identity and happiness.
Over all, I think Until the End of Forever is about possessing your own identity and that no one else can make you happy or that you can’t make someone else happy. Unfortunately, I think Forever misses the mark in fully developing Sarah and Rob’s awareness of these truths.
Don’t forget to come back on Friday for a thoughtful guest post by author Shannon Hart about Having It All!
Be sure to check out Shannon’s tour page and leave a comment for a chance to WIN a $10 Amazon gift card!