Reviewed by Jenny and Gitte
Jenny: Well G, what a real and honest story this was. When we discussed Covet, there were two observations we both made immediately and that was:
1) Tracey Garvis Graves is a readers dream. Her words are a caress and the subtlety in which she unravels a story is truly beautiful.
2) Covet felt so real and a lot women will relate to aspects of this story. In fact, we feel that every woman should read this story. It was as if we were voyeurs to parts of our own lives to some degree, don’t you agree G?
Gitte: No doubt about it Jenny. Tracey’s writing is pure class. It’s flawless and effortless. I get swept up every time and just experience the story as I immerse myself in the lives of her characters. Absolutely beautiful writing. As for Covet, the story is as real as they come. I don’t think there’s any married couple out there who wouldn’t relate to some aspects of this story. And how refreshing to read about mature and settled characters with real problems rather than over the top drama’s.
Jenny: It was a refreshing change Gitte and parts of Covet did feel quite personal to us at times didn’t it? After all, we’ve both personally been affected with the same issues as Claire in that , at some point in our married lives, we’ve had to deal with the absenteeism of our husbands, against theirs and our wishes for the sake of work commitments and their overriding need to provide for their families. So yes, we could definitely relate to points in this story. We’ve shared the lonely days the same as Claire and for this reason Covet really did resonate with us on a certain level, though thankfully, we were both blessed in the fact that our husbands didn’t shut us off emotionally as Chris did with Claire. Thank goodness Gitte. I don’t think I could have coped with Claire’s dire loneliness!
Gitte: It really is tough to live like a single Mum of young kids when your husband has to work away from home whether it be a necessity or a part of their job description. It’s a struggle and many of the problems Chris and Claire faced really rang true. Their story is real, but absolutely yes, at least you and I didn’t have the communication problems or that awful lack of any type of emotional connection that they did.
Jenny: Yes, unlike Claire, we were very fortunate in that regard. Chris and Claire’s relationship issues felt very real because there is a stage in a lot of marriages, where the everyday become a bit of a struggle. The daily grind can wear anyone down and for some, like Claire and Chris, marriage isn’t all unicorns and rainbows every minute of every day. Sometimes though, due to lack of communication those struggles can seem momentous. When a week without touching or talking becomes a month, a month becomes two months and so on, for Claire and Chris finding their way back to each other at that point, experiencing the helplessness of trying to claw back the happiness and bond they once shared appeared out of reach and for this once devoted and loving couple, unfortunately apathy found its way into their once blissfully happy lives.
‘In all the years we’d been together, I’d never experienced anything quite as heartbreaking as watching the lights of my golden boy fade’ – Claire
When facing the struggles in married life it is the support you find in one another which solidifies your relationship going forward. Unfortunately for Claire, when Chris loses his job he feels somewhat emasculated. To Chris, being the man of the house he feels his responsibility to his family is that of the bread winner and if that isn’t happening then he feels his contribution to the family is somewhat redundant. Little does Chris realise, the most important part of a relationship is the emotional and physical, not the material worth you bring to the table. I really did feel so much for Claire and her despair at the loss emotionally and physically between herself and Chris and her loneliness really did pull at my heart. What about you Gitte?
Gitte: Yeah I did Jenny. I completely understand Chris’ need and urge to provide for his family. This need is instilled in most men from an early age and is socially seen as part of the make-up of a man’s masculinity. Anything less is perceived to be a failure as a man, I find this notion so archaic and ridiculous. It puts untold pressure on the man both psychologically and socially. It affects all relationships whether it be with their other half or children. However, not all men react the same as a consequence.
In Chris’ case he could only focus on this one issue, all others fading into the background. He lost his way and all focus went on making money to keep his family going. In my opinion his view was blinkered and rationale went out the window. However, sometimes you can’t see the woods for the trees. Material things come and go. If you can’t afford your house payments, you buy a smaller house. You can always buy a bigger one when you’re making the necessary money again. If you lose that all important emotional connection and communication with your wife because you’re too busy trying to stay in the lifestyle to which you’re accustomed, then sadly…that is not so easy to retrieve once lost. You can’t buy people’s attention and affection long term, the memories stay.
Jenny: So true. While Chris begins to spend more and more time away from his family, and, can we point out, there is nothing sinister or underlying here in the amount of time Chris spends away from home. This man simply desires to feel needed and wanted by his family and feels working himself to the bone is the way to do it. But in the process Chris becomes so fixated on providing for his wife and children materially that emotionally and physically he becomes less and less a fixture in the family home.
‘I once read an article in a woman’s magazine that said it’s a really bad sign when you and your spouse stop arguing. It means that you’ve given up and no longer care about saving your marriage’ – Claire
I did feel for Chris when we heard his POV, but I was also frustrated with him and felt his detachment, especially in the email exchanges between himself and Claire, to be quite cold . These emails had no warmth and came across more like a business proposition than the communication between a man and his wife, but on the other I understood this was because of the disconnection he was experiencing between himslef and Claire and that made me sad. What about you G? How did you feel about the way Chris shut himself off from Claire?
Gitte: I have to be honest and say I struggled with Chris at times in this story. He was an excellent father and despite his skewered values, most likely brought on by feeling emasculated, he did love his wife. However, I just didn’t feel it as a reader. His POV’s helped somewhat as his absence is clearly not intentional nor is it through malice, however, his emails/phone calls and short visits at home never showed any evidence of love towards his wife.
“Aching for physical contact, I want someone to hold me…” – Claire
Chris was an intelligent man and was aware of the divide, yet somehow he couldn’t see past the end of his own nose and realise its importance. When he did though, he pushed it aside to deal with another day assuming that the days of built up loneliness and hurt wouldn’t drive a wedge. No physical contact and no ‘I love you’s’ and ‘I miss you’s’….I completely understood why Claire needed someone to care.
“It will take me a long time to make it up to Claire. Not just for last night, but for last year. But I will if she can just hold on a little longer.” – Chris
Chris made a bad situation worse and Claire’s loneliness really got to me. I felt it and my heart ached for her. She was so lonely, yet was trying to play her part in keeping the ‘togetherness’ whilst trying to be there for her husband. Being rejected and pushed to the back of the queue does no one’s ego and heart any good. Routines and bad habits have a way of sneaking up on you and can seriously damage any already strained relationship.
“….Chris being gone is now what I’m used to.” – Claire
Despite my issues connecting with Chris I did feel sorry for him, I really did and I understood why he put such importance on providing for his family. But….I just didn’t see the evidence of his love for Claire, rather, it was monetary and security driven.
“I miss my kids and my house, and even though she probably wouldn’t believe me if I told her so, I miss Claire. I miss a lot of things.” – Chris
Jenny: I completely and utterly felt Claire’s loneliness too G and it devastated me also. Then Claire meets Daniel, the local police officer and he would become her savior at a time when she was at her lowest ebb. Daniel was beautiful in looks and nature and I have to say, I fell in love with him immediately. Well, we both did didn’t we Gitte, and herein lies my problem. Here was a man who was emotionally available at all times for Claire, he was her light when everything around her felt so dark. He was invested in Claire, he cared for her deeply and he offered her solace from her loneliness.
“I’m not mad.” I’m lonely , which is a lot harder to see than anger. – Claire
Although I was invested in Claire and Chris’s marriage, I was, without question, invested in Daniel that bit more. Daniel had survived his own pain and my heart went out to him. I had these overwhelming feelings for him and I wanted this man to be happy. It was at this point I became less invested in Claire and Chris as a couple because I was so invested in this beautiful man. What a wonderful character he was. What did you think of Daniel, Gitte?
Gitte: I fell in absolute love with Daniel. In fact this is why I got so cross for reasons I can’t say for fear of spoilers, this is going to be so hard to explain so I’ll try my best. I understand his importance in the story of Claire and Chris. What happened was real, easy and human. However, when reading such a beautiful flawlessly written story where you’re made to care deeply you can’t help but feel Daniel was a man used as an instrument to highlight the sadness and devastation of a marriage interrupted. Only to be discarded in the most awful way when of no use anymore and when he in turn needed someone.
“I have no right to say this and I’d never ask you to leave him….But I wish you were mine.” – Daniel
I felt as if I was given the beauty of a decent, selfless and honest character who I was made to care for and love, then suddenly forced to have my feelings as a reader discarded because he’d served his purpose. If only he’d been given the fair dues he deserved so I knew he was okay. By writing such a beautiful character and me not connecting with Chris, I struggled to understand one aspect of the ending and what led up to it. I felt Daniel wasn’t given the justice he so deserved as a character, who was honestly a true gentleman, though I do understand why it had to be this way. This was Claire and Chris’ story, ultimately.
“I’ve always been fairly certain that this day would come, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.” – Daniel
Jenny: This story was beautifully told, it felt real, it elicited some high emotions from me, and I understood the conclusion, though it did make me feel quite upset. I cried and I was saddened. I know there are no winners in these situations, but for me I agree with everything you said above and echo your sentiments completely. I loved this one Gitte and felt Tracey Garvis Graves brought her characters to life in Covet. This author had me feeling every emotion, right there alongside Claire.
Gitte: I too loved Covet, Jenny. Tracey Garvis Graves has an ability to touch my heart and elicit such strong emotion through her flawless and beautiful writing. I think I went through every emotion possible…mostly though I just cried towards the end. Claire and Chris’ story is not an easy one and the fact that it’s so real, you can’t help but feel affected. Really, the most valuable thing you can give someone is your time, and mostly, that is what people really want and need.
Tracey deals with the topics of marriage difficulties, depression, job loss and emotional unfaithfulness and isolation with kid gloves and pure class. Covet stands out for so many reasons and is definitely a must read.
“Do you think it’s possible to love more than one person? At the same time? – Claire
“I think just about anything is possible when it comes to love.” – Elisa
J&G: Covet may not have the crazy plot twists, the heated sex on every page nor the angst of some books, but what it does have is truth, honesty and reality. This is real life and will resonate with women everywhere.
“And I think to myself that maybe Chris talks to me the loudest when he says nothing at all.’ – Claire
It’s about finding your way back. Reconnecting – even when the impossible appears improbable. It’s about rediscovering the important values in life. What truly matters! That is what Covet is all about and as we said, Covet is for every woman and we absolutely recommend picking this one up.
ARC supplied by publisher in exchange for an honest review