While the kind of drama found in reality shows can be appealing, it leaves me dissatisfied, much like junk food does. And so when books like author Kristyn Kusek Lewis’ Save Me come across my desk, I take the time to savour every page. In this case, I particularly liked the study in the subtlety of a wife’s reaction to her husband’s adultery. For while Daphne is heartbroken and angry at his betrayal, she remains true to her kind, strong, caring self without succumbing to self-pity or blind anger, even reaching out to her husband in his time of need.
When my review of her book was posted, I already knew I wanted to feature Kristyn in “Author Spotlight”. But she beat me to the punch by sending me a lovely message thanking me for the review; it comes as little surprise that she was very happy to send me her thoughts on the importance of portraying spousal unfaithfulness quite differently from the way it is often done in mass media.
The Importance of Realistic Portrayals of Marriage, by Kristyn Kusek Lewis
When I begin a writing project, it always starts with a character. I spend a lot of time simply thinking about the character, and then journaling about her, before I start writing; who is this person, what motivates her, who’s in her life, is she honest with the people in her life, is she honest with herself…. In the case of Daphne, the main character in SAVE ME, I was inventing a woman who has always been in control of her circumstances. By chance or by design, her life has always worked out exactly the way that she wanted it to be. When her husband announces in the beginning of the book that he has met somebody else, her carefully planned life begins to unravel.
The truth is that I never set out to write a story about an affair. What I was more interested in was the story of a marriage; a true and honest portrayal of one. I am a big believer in marriage but I am also a person who believes that if you want a successful, lasting relationship, you need to put in the work, and what Daphne and Owen discover during the course of the book is that neither of them were making much of an effort. Daphne, through a series of events, has to decide whether the relationship is worth the effort, and whether the life she’d been living is really the one that’s best for her.
It’s been interesting to see how readers respond to Daphne. She doesn’t react to Owen’s infidelity by immediately ending the relationship, and some readers have said that this strikes them as weakness. To me, it’s quite the opposite. I think that Daphne is an incredibly strong woman because she allows herself her feelings. She is horrified by the thing her husband has done and she makes no secret of it but she loves him, too, despite his mistake and his flaws, and I believe that her ability to dive into the scenario he’s created instead of just casting it off is realistic. He has done a horrible thing, yes, but she’s not perfect either. The story, to me, is ultimately about forgiveness. What does it mean to forgive someone who’s wronged you? What can you overlook? In what ways, big and small, does a marriage (or any relationship) require forgiveness? And when your life doesn’t work out the way you planned, what must you do to forgive yourself?