Summary and book reviews of The First Time by Joy Fielding

The First Time

By Joy Fielding

The First Time
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2000,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2001,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

Expanding the scope of her storytelling as never before, New York Times bestselling author Joy Fielding delivers the novel that will captivate her devoted fans and win her countless new readers: an exquisitely tender and richly textured love story of astonishing emotional force.

Behind the shiny facade of her seemingly idyllic life in Chicago, Mattie Hart feels as if she is falling apart. After sixteen years of marriage, and one beautiful teenage daughter, Mattie has discovered that her husband, Jake, a high-profile defense attorney, is ensconced in yet another love affair.

It is only after Jake finally confesses his infidelity and leaves to live with his girlfriend that a far greater crisis descends upon the embattled Hart family -- Mattie receives some devastating news that will alter all their lives. Wracked by guilt at these unforeseen developments, Jake returns home to be with Mattie. Here, in this most daunting and unexpected of circumstances, Joy Fielding deftly ushers her characters through a poignant and heartbreaking drama about love's astonishing power to defy the greatest odds and to heal the deepest wounds.

Bearing all the distinctive qualities of a contemporary classic, The First Time is a dazzling illumination of a marriage at the crossroads, where the ties that bind become frayed but refuse to sever, and where a long estranged husband and wife discover, for the first time, exactly what love really means. At once profoundly cathartic and inspiring, The First Time finds Joy Fielding at the height of her powers as she explores the amazing resilience of the human spirit.

Chapter 1

She was thinking of ways to kill her husband.

Martha Hart, called Mattie by everyone but her mother, who regularly insisted Martha was a perfectly lovely name -- "You don't see Martha Stewart changing her name, do you?" -- was swimming back and forth across the long, rectangular pool that occupied most of her spacious backyard. Mattie swam every morning from the beginning of May until mid-October, barring lightning or an early Chicago snowfall, fifty minutes, one hundred lengths of precisely executed breaststroke and front crawl, back and forth across the well-heated forty-foot expanse. Usually she was in the water by seven o'clock, so that she could be finished before Jake left for work and Kim for school, but today she'd overslept, or rather, hadn't slept at all until just minutes before the alarm clock went off. Jake, of course, had experienced no such trouble sleeping and was out of bed and in the shower before she'd had time to open her eyes. "Feeling all right?" ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

None too subtle, the novel nevertheless wins points for honesty and forthrightness, tackling complex issues and gearing readers up for a three-tissue finale.

Kirkus Reviews

It's only in the final stages of the illness, when Mattie's state seems to require some deeper insight, that Fielding comes up short. For the most part, though, a tonic account of how one woman discovers her truest self in the face of supreme disaster.

Booklist

This is rich stuff. While skimping on plot, Fielding has created an adept study of three flawed characters who, after years of playing head games, must learn how to communicate.

Reader Reviews
Debra

The first time
I really enjoyed this book, I took it away on holiday for one week and could not put it down. I was drawn in from the beginning to the character of Mattie and could identify totally with the dilemma in which she finds herself. The book is well ...   Read More

carly

a very good book. i love joy as an author and i enjoyed this book as much as her others.

eyesod02


This book was GREAT! I didn't have high expectations for this book since I usually don't like romance novels, but picked it up at the bookstore since it was a "bargain book" and sounded somewhat interesting. All I have to say is that I ...   Read More

toothfairy


Masterful storytelling! Joy Fielding creates complex, compelling characters that power the novel from beginning to end. She dares to and succeeds in exploring emotional issues that are as real as they are complicated. This novel hits home. Well, it ...   Read More

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