Book Review: The Actor and the Housewife

The Actor and the Housewife
by Shannon Hale
Published by Bloomsbury USA

I feel like I just got jerked around in an extremely passive-aggressive manner by a narcissistic fuckwad.

I can’t tell you how pissed off I am at this moment.

No review. No more crit. You can see previous entries here and here. It’s completely irrelevant.

Tell you what. I’ll read Stephenie Meyer again before I’ll read anything else this author’s ever written. I can’t imagine Breaking Dawn is a worse betrayal by an author than this.


I’ve gotten a bunch of emails about what actually happened, so here you go. Spoiler warning.


Okay, here was the deal:

All the way through this book, Felix is in love with Becky. Almost painfully so. Obviously so (which is its own irritation that nobody picks up on this). He’s a very nice guy and fairly fleshed out and he’s only an ass for maybe 5 pages of the whole book.


Her husband dies at the 2/3 mark. So, for 2/3 of the book she’s all about Felix when her husband’s around. Then, for the last 1/3, she’s all mourning her husband for two years, and Felix is there, wanting to marry her, tells her he’s been in love with her (and oh, this comes as a complete shock to her, right? Pfffttt), and now she’s all about her husband. So for pages and pages and pages and pages she’s all, “NO I’M STILL MARRIED TO MIKE!!!” (this is after 2 years of widowhood, remember) and breaking Felix’s heart, then she finally decides, yeah, okay, I can marry him. He’s my best friend after all. I’m 45 and my kids are way grown (youngest is 13 or something and oldest 2 are gone) and Felix and I can grow old together, so yeah, I think maybe I’ll think about marrying him after all.

And then they go away for a while so they can kiss uninterrupted. So they do.

And it is (I quote), “a belly-flop” of a kiss. No passion. So that’s it. They go their separate ways, I guess still being best pals on the phone or whatever.

Cuz they aren’t made for each other after all.

Because they didn’t get horny when they kissed for the first time.

Happy happy joy joy.


She spends the first 2/3 thirds of the book w/her husband being all about Felix and the last 1/3 with Felix being all about her husband.

I have no way to reconcile any of this to any reality, writerly or Mormonly or humanly. None. It makes no sense on any level.

Update on the creepy book.

Okay, I’m about halfway through The Actor and the Housewife and things have started to become a little clearer.

The actor is clearly in love with the housewife; I don’t believe he is in denial about this, although he puts up a good act. Because he’s an actor. Heh. He’s a nice man.

The housewife is in complete and total denial. On purpose. She’s smart; she knows what’s up. She doesn’t want to deal with it because it’s gonna be nasty messy and painful. That is to say, she’s bored and she’s lonely and she’s completely unappreciated and she’s not getting much in the way of sexual healing from her husband. So handsome clever dude comes along and appreciates her as a woman, and of course it’s gonna go to her head. All the while she’s saying, “I have the perfect husband and I love him so much!” What she needs to do is wake up and tell her husband they need marriage counseling. I don’t excuse her actions. She’s lying to herself. IMO, that’s her biggest sin and she needs slapped.

The husband is . . . not a creep or a dick or an asshole. He’s lazy. Possibly stupid, but I’m leaning toward lazy. He’s lazy about his marriage. He’s lazy about taking care of his wife. He’s lazy about seeing her value to him as an unpaid (oh, but she gets room and board!) maid, chauffeur, nanny, and for the occasional (I think? He doesn’t seem interested.) sexual favor. Maybe. If she pushes hard enough.

He’s disturbed by her relationship with the actor (who calls every day; tells her he misses her), but he doesn’t notice when she’s trying to be sexy for him and his idea of a romantic evening is sitting on the family room floor after the kids go to bed watching the ten o’clock news and drinking chocolate milk—and that’s AFTER he’s already had his little pout about her friendship with the actor. He never gets really mad and yells at her. He does a couple of really passive-aggressive things to let her know he’s pouting. He can’t even be bothered to manifest his jealousy properly. (Is he that sure of her or does he think she’s not attractive enough? I can’t tell.) Yet he’s not disturbed enough to seduce her or romance her (or take what she offers, for that fact); either he doesn’t know how or he doesn’t see a need. Idiot lazy ass. You deserve to lose your wife to someone who’d sweep her off her feet given half a chance. Oh wait. You already have. Fight for her, you stupid fuck.

This is turning pretty dark with (dare I say it? I shall!) SPARKLES all over it to make it look like it’s all bright and shiny and cute and fun, and that the housewife is the only one with a little problem.

So far it’s shaping up not to be so much the story of her (without doubt) emotional affair with a (IMO) pretty awesome dude who’s head over heels in love with her.

It’s shaping up to be the story of an already fractured marriage that needs the x-ray of aforementioned affair to show it for what it is. It’s not a spiral fracture or a comminuted fracture. It’s not even a clean break. It’s a stress fracture, the kind that gives you twinges of discomfort that you can ignore for a long time until it breaks and you’re like, “I didn’t do anything to it!” But catch it early enough, and all it’ll need to heal is a cast and time and a helluva lot of TLC.

There’s a quiet desperation about it that’s starting to get heartbreaking (I have sprouted tears in a couple of spots). I suspect there are a lot of those kinds of marriages in the church. In a lot of churches. And outside them, too.

And oh, it’s so not chick lit. This is Women’s Fiction with a capital W and capital F. Dark and angsty without letting you KNOW it’s dark and angsty (and the bright perky cover is complicit in the deceit).

If this is where Shannon Hale meant to go without letting the reader figure out where she’s taking you, then I salute her. She’s effing brilliant.

But I haven’t finished it, so I may again change my opinion. I shoulda waited until I was finished, but this is too dense with subtext not to share as I go along. I hope it’s intentional. Dear Sister Hale, please don’t pull a Stephenie Meyer on me. Please. Pretty please.

This book’s kinda giving me the willies.

And I’m only 50 pages in.

Right now I’m reading The Actor and the Housewife, and I just don’t quite know what to think. Here’s the blurb:

What if you were to meet the number-one person on your laminated list—you know, that list you joke about with your significant other about which five celebrities you’d be allowed to run off with if ever given the chance? And of course since it’ll never happen it doesn’t matter . . .

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened . . . though nothing has happened.

It isn’t sexual. It isn’t even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what’s hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky’s husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special . . . something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it?

A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.

This part is what gets me: “It isn’t sexual.”

My. Ass.

Now, look, Sister Hale. I realize that I shouldn’t be coming to this novel from the perspective of a romance reader, because it’s not a romance. (I know it’s not because the library cataloging block told me it isn’t. It says it’s “chick lit,” and library cataloging blocks don’t lie.) But I am coming to it from a romance reader’s perspective because it’s whispering naughty thing in romance’s ear at this point. Yet I don’t know a die-hard romance reader in the world who wouldn’t tear her hair out.

Becky Jack (the main character) is, thus far, what we romance readers would call TSTL.

Too Stupid To Live.

Also? Flirting *kofffallinginlovekoff* with someone while you’re happily married is a HUGE romance no-no.

I had to take a break from the gore of this woman’s squished IQ and blog it. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to finish the book, except . . .

I must get back to the trainwreck that she is. I should turn my eyes away. Look somewhere else. But I can’t.

So I took this quiz, see…

. . . and apparently it thinks I’m a “Perfect Mormon.”

The obedient Latter-day Saint.

Temple recommend in hand, you live the gospel every day. Like a city on a hill, you remember the slogan every member a missionary. You beat your peers in seminary scripture chase, and you look forward to (or fondly remember) your beautiful temple wedding.

The quiz purports to differentiate subtleties amongst members (or, in the alternative, those who are somehow connected enough to want to take the quiz in the first place), but it didn’t ask me about any deviations from “perfect” with regard to orthodoxy and/or the subtle things.

Hello, it asked about caffeine use but not tattoos and piercings? (And facial hair for men?)

It asked about music but not books/movies/TV/periodicals/Internet/video games?

It also didn’t ask about actual church attendance or if/when I bear my testimony during Fast & Testimony Meeting.

It asked for one’s voting record but not guiding philosophy? (Ever heard of holding your nose to vote? I’ve done that since 1992.) AND it put socialism in the same voting line as libertarian? Are you fucking kidding me???

Also, only 2 questions of a feminist bent and those answers weren’t satisfactory, either.

And there were three other questions that didn’t have suitable answers, so I was forced to err on the side of orthodoxy because the next alternative was more removed from my reality.

Yeah, nuance-picking-upping it was not.

And on a picture showing a bunch of, uh, “famous” Mormons, I identified four: Joseph Smith, Porter Rockwell (NATURALLY!!!), Ezra Taft Benson, and Ken Jennings. The rest were not important enough to remember. Neither was Ken Jennings. I suspect you have to be from Utah to know them by sight.

It also asked nothing about my willingness to proselytize on my own time, which the answer is: No. I put my time in for 9 years as a kid, so I’ve made my contribution. I don’t talk about the church here to entice you to righteousness nor to repel you from my evil. I talk about my reality, one of which includes the church, for which I have an inveterate affection. In case you didn’t notice. Also notice I don’t talk a lot about my personal spiritual beliefs because those are, um, well, private. More private than sex.

The poll is still in beta testing, though. I wish the architect had put in a space for comments because really the poll assumes too much. Maybe I’ll link him to this post and let him scream at me, er, open a dialogue.

Hat tip chanson for providing that Monday-morning chuckle.

Oh my heck!

Yeah, I know I have more non-Mormon readers than Mormon readers. How do I know this, you ask? I have the Sight. (Plus the not illogical assumption that I offend most Mormons.) Anyway, that post title just gave every single one of my Mormon readers a giggle. Mostly because I used it.

This blog: Why Mormon Girls Stay Single is probably a lot funnier now that I’m married, but I had to tell you about it, which is actually the whole purpose of the post. I found it via the current, ah, kerfuffle (don’t hit me, Jessica) over what is and is not a real bloggernacle blog, but my blog is not any one of those.

Thank heavens.