From the beginning, their relationship had an imbalance built into it by the very double standard that often defined relationships in those times. It was the 1970s and they were in college when they began, and even though Alice was feeling the thrill of realizing her own dreams, the marriage between her and George was not to be an equal one.
He expected her to give up on her career aspirations, since he could provide financial support for them. None of her protests changed anything. She could have fought, you might say. Or demanded her due. But George was one of those men that women loved. Alice didn’t feel she could keep him unless she gave in.
Thus begins the tale of these two. Emancipating Alice takes the reader from these beginnings and the inequity of their relationship and leads us through the challenges of child rearing—mostly for Alice, since George’s presence was as the fun-loving dad—and into the later years when something from the past rises up and changes the dynamic between them.
In the first chapter, we see that George has died and that Alice, at the market, seems to have some kind of prescience about his demise. What we learn slowly and gradually is how the entrapment of one partner by the other can begin gradually until it is firmly entrenched, and that only a drastic action can sever the ropes that bind them together.
Why does George have numerous secret files? How is Alice able to finally take back her power? And what has eaten away at Alice’s relationship with her daughter Elaine until the two are like cold strangers? What will Alice do after the funeral to finally emancipate herself?
Divided into sections, we first see the story from Alice’s perspective, followed by George’s viewpoint. Otherwise, I might have simply detested George, whom we see in a somewhat distorted version in the beginning. But George’s point of view is also skewed, with the justifications for his behavior on full display.
Like most marriages, there are definitely two sides to the story…and sometimes more than two. The offspring of a couple add another dimension to the family dynamic and change how events will unfold.
A delightful and captivating read, this story was enjoyable. There were some punctuation and grammatical issues that distracted me at times, but the novel’s depth and layers, as well as my curiosity, kept me reading. Four stars.