Summary and book reviews of The First Time by Joy Fielding

The First Time

by Joy Fielding

The First Time
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2000, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2001, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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.

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?" ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

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

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

Anne

Congratulaions Joy Fielding! It's been a long time since i've picked up a book and haven't been able to put it down. 'The First Time' is a story that touches your heart... it can happen to any of us. You brought the characters to life so beautifully ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The First Time, try these:

  • The Dive From Clausen's Pier jacket

    The Dive From Clausen's Pier

    by Ann Packer

    Published 2003

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Elegantly written and ferociously paced, emotionally nuanced and morally complex - marks the emergence of a prodigiously gifted new novelist.

  • Three Junes jacket

    Three Junes

    by Julia Glass

    Published 2003

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Elegantly detailed yet full of emotional suspense, often as comic as it is sad, this is a glorious triptych about how we learn to live beyond incurable grief and betrayals of the heart, and how family ties, both those we're born into and those we make, can offer us redemption and joy.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Book That Matters Most
    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers appreciated the innovative structure of The Book That Matters ...
  • Book Jacket: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers were uniformly impressed by this difficult yet heartwarming ...
  • Book Jacket: Boy Erased
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley
    Growing up in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley did not quite fit the mold of his strait-laced, ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach

    "An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut." - Kirkus, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    by Bryn Greenwood

    A memorable coming-of-age tale about loyalty, defiance, and the power of love.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.