The Stuff That Never Happened Summary and Reviews

The Stuff That Never Happened

by Maddie Dawson

The Stuff That Never Happened
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2010
    336 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

What if you were married to a wonderful husband for twenty-eight years but in love with another man? What if you were in love with them both?

Annabelle McKay knows she shouldn’t have any complaints. She’s been in a stable marriage that’s lasted almost three decades and has provided her with two wonderful children, thousands of family dinners around a sturdy oak table, and a husband so devoted that he schedules lovemaking into his calendar every Wednesday morning. Other wives envy the fact that Grant is not the type of man who would ever cheat on her or leave her for a younger woman. The trouble is Annabelle isn’t sure she wants to be married to Grant anymore. The trouble is she’s still in love with someone else.
 
In the early tumultuous years of her marriage, Annabelle carried on a clandestine affair with the one person whose betrayal would hurt her husband the most. When it ended, she and Grant found their way back together and made a pact that they would never speak of that time again. But now years later, with her children grown and gone, and an ominous distance opening between them, she can’t help but remember those glorious, passionate days and wonder if she chose the right man.
 
Then, when called to New York City to help care for her pregnant daughter, Annabelle bumps into her old lover. Offered a second chance at an unforgettable love, she must decide between the man who possesses her heart and the husband who has stood squarely by her side.

A journey into the what-ifs that haunt us all, The Stuff That Never Happened is an intricate, heartfelt examination of modern marriage that brims with truths about the nature of romantic love.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Dawson writes simply but so clearly and with such detail that the characters feel incredibly real." - Library Journal

"For fans of upmarket hen lit, it's worth a look, but Dawson doesn't deliver enough consistent tension to make the work pop." - Publishers Weekly

"Both tender and exquisite, Maddie Dawson’s triumphant debut, The Stuff That Never Happened, is a pitch-perfect look into the choices we made in our past and the consequences that they carry long into the future. I loved every page." - Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of The One That I Want
 
"What a joy it is to discover Maddie Dawson. In the best storytelling tradition of writers like Elizabeth Berg and Anne Tyler, Dawson delivers a fast-paced, unflinching, often hilarious novel about the challenges of love, parenthood, and staying true to yourself in a marriage." - Holly Robinson, author of The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter: A Memoir
 
"'I can admit that I went there hungry for the drama of him, that I craved that heightened sense of loving and being loved again,' Maddie Dawson's middleaged heroine confesses.  In trying to make sense of one married woman's relationship to her old flame, The Stuff That Never Happened is a paean to family happiness as much as romance." - Stewart O'Nan, author of Songs for the Missing

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Reader Reviews

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Marcia S. (Hendersonville, NC)

Complexity of relationships
With 'The Stuff That Never Happened', Dawson offers a story that should appeal mostly to women of 30 plus but mature young adults could well benefit from the insight that parents did have a life that took place before children came along and they too dealt with ageless issues relationships bring. The marriage of young Annabelle to Grant and how betrayal directed the course of their relationship and future perspectives made for a thought-provoking read. Actions can have far reaching consequences. Should generate good conversations with book clubs.

Mary P. (Bellingham, WA)

The stuff that never happened
Maddie Dawson's "The Stuff that Never Happened" is first and foremost, an enjoyable read. The author can turn a phrase and encapsulate feelings in few words, often humorously. Because it is written in first person, and definitely from a woman's point of view, I think the audience will probably be limited to women--especially those who have tried to understand "love" in some of its permutations. And if the reader has been in a similar situation, the novel speaks with even more empathy.

Angelina A. (New York, NY)

Not another mid-life crisis
Despite my initial fears that this would be another book about a woman who was experiencing empty nest syndrome, I was pleasantly surprised. Annabelle is such a complex character and a lot of what happens in this novel is what takes place in the secret confines of our minds. It also shows that marriage and love are not always mutually inclusive. A fantastic read.

Claire M. (Hilton Head, SC)

The stuff that never happened
I began to read and thought "oh, no!" but found myself caught up in the story of Annabelle, a young, naive California girl married without a thought in the 70's to Grant, a man of inaccessible emotions. The '70's were a time of sexual and emotional upheaval which created a new drama. The story is told from Annabelle's point of view - and details the complexities inherent in relationships with lovers, spouses, children. Annabelle's costly affair with her husband's closest friend is the elephant in the room for 26 years while she matures, reconciles with Grant and tries to put her life in perspective.

Although I thought Annabelle to be annoyingly naive I grew to understand her well and was surprised by her understanding of relationships and acceptance of self as the story drew to a close.

A really good read and one that perhaps resonates with anyone who has betrayed or been betrayed.

Marti F. (Coralville, IA)

An excellent read! Highly recommended.
I loved this book. Told in the voice of the main character,
Annabelle. The timeline goes back and forth between 1977-'81 and 2005. It deals with choices made in love, promises made and broken, trust and family relationships. I found myself wanting to keep on reading to find out what would happen, not just at the end, but throughout the book. Even through difficult times and self-doubt, Annabelle had a great sense of humor. I am eagerly anticipating the next book by this author.

La Deana R. (Norman, OK)

the stuff that never happened
Loved it. Annabelle is the person you sit next to at the ballgames, watching your kids. She is the mom who remembered to bring cupcakes when you are scrambling to get your kids to school at all. And Annabelle is a woman living in a marriage fractured by her own careless, thoughtless and impetuous affair. I found her character believable as she tries to live her life in spite of her betrayal to her husband. I can empathize with her romanticized version of the man she lost 26 years before.

I waited, spellbound, as she found Jeremiah unexpectedly again and all the repercussions this has on her family once again. This is a true picture of marriage, both good and bad, love in its best and its worst form. I couldn't put it down and would recommend it to anyone (but especially those women of a certain age - like myself - whose past and present don't always seem to line up). Good reading, tell Ms. Dawson to bring us more!

...16 more reader reviews

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Maddie Dawson lives in Connecticut. She is happily married.

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