Marsha Casper Cook
Fideli Publishing 2008
Before I opened the first page of this book and even before I read the synopsis on the back cover I stopped to consider what the title of Marsha Casper Cook’s novel might mean. My first thought was that love is a vital part of life and every love must flow with changes to survive. As I glanced at the cover picture, I wondered if it was a picture of serenity or loneliness. Were the chairs empty in wait of a late night lover’s chat on the balcony or empty from missing love? The title along with the serene picture of two chairs sitting on a balcony with a pretty pot of flowers in the background intrigued me enough to open the cover and start reading. I’m glad I did. Love Changes is a good book.
Elaine Lewis is easy to dislike. First impressions are that she is selfish, unappreciative and unstable. Martin Lewis is easy to like. First impressions are that he is hardworking, loving and devoted to his wife. Elaine is a rich socialite who appears to flit from activity to activity simply to please herself. Martin is a well-respected doctor who overlooks much to honor his vow to love his wife no matter what. I refer to first impressions because as the story unfolds, readers get insight into Elaine’s past hurts and present pain. While the information doesn’t justify it, at least it shines light on Elaine’s actions. Many readers will hate Elaine early in the book, however continued reading will allow some readers to move from dislike of, to sorrow for, to cheering the recovery of this wounded, fearful woman.
To friends and family members the Lewis’ appear to be a happy couple with everything going for them and indeed they are until the birth of Stevie, a son with a disability proves to be a life change Elaine is unwilling to bear. Readers will be appalled by Elaine’s decision to give away her disabled son and by her later claim to all that he died in childbirth. Although Martin is a wonderful husband and is secretly involved in Stevie’s life readers will question his steadfast willingness to do things Elaine’s way to the point of not raising his son in his own home. Not until much later in the book do we see that selfishness alone does not motivate Elaine’s decisions. Painful memories of a devastating childhood loss and a misguided desire to protect her son from herself are what lead her to act as she does. Doing what she feels is best for Stevie leads to misery in all aspects of her future. Elaine’s perfect life is a veil over her lies and secrecy.
Love Changes confronts some serious issues such as gambling, adultery, mental illness, abortion, and self preservation. Rather than sharing her problems with her husband Elaine turns to the horse track where she gambles on a daily basis. She later turns to other men, but none of her relationships can fill the hole her son left in her heart. She must find a way to reconcile the past or she will not live to see the future. Can Martin’s love hold strong through affairs, lies and loss? You will have to read to find out.
The author presents vivid scene descriptions, honest dialogue and believable characters. She skillfully depicts emotions and the inner turmoil of a troubled lady. Although I found it a bit depressing, I nonetheless enjoyed Love Changes. The major characters were strongly defined and the minor characters were introduced in a natural progression allowing readers to get to know them and their role in Elaine’s life. Some of these individuals will be disliked by readers immediately; some will have redeeming qualities and others will be liked from the first. Readers will enjoy getting to know Stevie and cheer his ability to have a happy life despite his disability. His cheerful outlook on life comes in stark contrast to his mother’s gloomy view and made this reviewer wonder who had the true disability. Many characters play a role in Elaine’s life but none has a love as strong as her husband Martin. His is the love that can sustain Elaine Lewis. The author had a good mix of dialogue and narration. The dialogue was mostly natural, but I felt it was slightly overdone in a few scenes.
While not a happy life I enjoyed my journey with Elaine through her ups and downs. It was satisfying to see how love impacted her life and made changes for the good and the bad. Love changes all of us and I enjoyed the journey into Elaine’s world to see just how love changed her.
I would recommend adding Love Changes to your future reading list, but don’t expect a light fluffy book solely written to entertain. It is too serious a story for that. It may leave you feeling down in sections, but the message to appreciate what you have, be honest with those you love and don’t let past hurts keep you from future happiness make it a worthy story. Elaine can’t truly love until she forgives herself. She finally gets her head on straight but is it too late? Oh how her life would have been enriched had she learned to love and be loved years earlier.
Love Changes may stir various emotional responses in readers, but I feel the ending will satisfy all. These kinds of stories can never close with every problem solved. Love Changes is a book that will make you think and maybe even make you want to hold those you love just a little closer.