Five Days: Book summary and reviews of Five Days by Douglas Kennedy

Five Days
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2013,
    336 pages.

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Book Summary

From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Moment comes a remarkable new novel that explores how and why we fall in love.

Laura works in a small hospital on the Maine coast, scanning and x-raying many a scared patient. In a job where finding nothing is always the best result, she is well versed in the random unfairness of life, a truism that has started to affect her personally. Her husband Dan has become a stranger since losing his job. With a son in college and a daughter set to leave home, she wonders how the upcoming empty nest will affect the disconnected state of her marriage.

Still, Laura jumps at the opportunity to attend a conference in Boston where she meets a man as grey and uninspired as her drab hotel. His name is Richard. He's a fifty-something salesman, also from Maine, also in Boston for the weekend. When a chance meeting brings them together again, Laura begins to discover a far more complex and thoughtful man behind the flat façade. Like herself, Richard ponders his own life and wonders if the time has come to choose desire over obligation.

Five Days is a moving love story that will have readers reflecting about the choices made that so shape all our destinies. Featuring Kennedy's trademark evocative prose and his brilliant ability to delineate life the way it is truly lived today, it is a novel that speaks directly to the many contradictions of the human heart.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about Five Days. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.

Ask Douglas Kennedy a question about 'Five Days'
I don't have a question for you, but I wanted to tell you how many memories you stirred up with the setting that you used. My husband was stationed at Brunswick Naval Air Station after graduating from dental school so I had snapshots in my mind of... - marymargaretf

Ben and Billy seem to relate best to one parent. Is this always the case in family life?
My husband and I have three daughters who are now in their thirties. They are each very different individuals. As they were growing up, they would each relate to us in different ways at different times. Just as they were each unique, my husband ... - lynna

How do Laura's, Dan's, and Richard's relationships with their parents affect their lives, their marriages and how they parent their children?
I was thinking that one main theme of the author was the affect parents have on their children. In this case, it was a particular generation of parents. Since I am near the same age of the characters, I saw my own mom in these characters. But I ... - Navy Mom

How does financial pressure change Laura and Dan's relationship. Would it have survived if Dan hadn't been laid off?
Dan and Laura's marriage was never built on a very strong foundation. It was a compromise for Laura in the first place and Dan knew it, so this was a big difficulty from the very start. I don't believe that either one of them really felt good about... - lynna

How does Laura's job - dealing with the potential for cancer diagnoses all day - affect how she views life?
That life is a fragile gift and one never knows what the next day will bring. In her work she also witnessed the many ways people deal with "good news or bad news". Observing this situation over and over built within her the strength to be honest ... - carolyna

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. With apparent effortlessness, Fink tells the Memorial story with cogency and atmosphere." - Kirkus "With Five Days, Douglas Kennedy has crafted a brilliant meditation on regret, fidelity, family, and second chances that will have you breathlessly turning pages to find out what happened in the past and what will happen next. At once heartbreaking and hopeful, it is a bracing new work of fiction by an internationally acclaimed writer at the height of his powers." - Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club

"The prolific Kennedy explores his favored themes of mortality, love, and loss in this fluidly written tale. Deftly depicting how certain choices can unexpectedly narrow a life, instead of expanding it, he has much to say about the nature of happiness, the difficulty of change, and the great divide between obligation and desire." - Booklist

"Depicting the human spirit's courage in its quest for connection, this novel may appeal to women of a certain age who find themselves disappointed in love and in need of change." - Library Journal

"Despite some character underdevelopment, a fine tale of lives re-examined." - Kirkus

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Jeannie
5 days
As a great fan of Douglas Kennedy, I have bought and re read every one of his books, apart from Woman on the Fifth, which I didn't like either.If 5 Days had been the first one I read I'd never have bought another one. I found it boring, unrealistic and overly linguistic. It was as though DK was letting us know how very erudite he was. I just hated it, and was really glad when I got to the thoroughly unsatisfactory end of it.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Carolyn
Reflections
From the opening of this story author Douglas Kennedy introduces the reader to three people who are in the throes of questioning their family relationships. What is so brilliantly captivating is the dialogue in this story. Laura's conversations, aloud and privately with herself, could be any woman,s conversations..about obligations, disappointment, disconnecting, and finding the love of oneself.

For me, this was not a casual read. I was caught up quickly into the story and stayed with the turbulence of commitment and desire for Laura, her husband Dan, Richard, and the children. This is a story that most families experience at different stages in a marriage, if we are to be honest. Just the scenario might be different.

The story has a tone of honesty and sincerity, for everyone. After closing the book the reader must take a moment to question where they are within their own circle of the universe.

Sharing this book, FIVE DAYS, on many levels, with a glass of wine and small group of friends, would be lovely way to engage in a conversational adventure!

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Christina
Interesting Concept, but Heroine Hard to Like
Five Days is the story about one woman's life and how everything can change in the blink of an eye.

We're introduced to the character in her "every day" life. Her job, her family, her husband, and just day-to-day routine. The next three days entail a work trip to nearby Boston and how events are set in motion to change her life forever. The last day is a year later, checking in on the storyline and seeing where the dust settled after those events.

The beginning and end of the book are well written. Pretty captivating, hook you in to the story, develop characters, and hold your attention.

The middle of the book is incredibly long winded and slow. I actually had to set the book down and didn't pick it up again for about a week because this part was so boring to me.

The heroine is very hard to like. In the beginning of the book we see snippets of her being short tempered, jumping down a stranger's throat, undermining her husband's parenting, and the like. By the center of the book she is a complete pompous snob. Exactly like Diane Chambers from Cheers. You want to like her, and she's the star, but boy does she REALLY grate on your nerves sometimes. Even making her husband a very pessimistic jerk doesn't do much in the way of pleading a case where you take sympathy and feel sorry enough to like her or bond with her.

Overall it's a very cool concept to have a whole novel showcase such a short part of a character's life and the impact that moments in time can have on a person's life. I just wish the heroine was more likeable and that it moved faster in some parts. Not a book you would re-read, but not a book to overlook either.

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Author Information

Douglas Kennedy Author Biography

Photo: Paul Stuart

Douglas Kennedy is the author of eleven novels, including the international bestseller Leaving the World and The Moment. His most recent novel is Five Days (2013). His work has been translated into 22 languages, and in 2007 he received the French decoration of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He has two children and now divides his time between London, Paris, Berlin and Maine.

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