Review: I Give My Marriage A Year by Holly Wainwright

Title: I Give My Marriage A Year

Author: Holly Wainwright

Published: August 25th, Macmillan Australia

Status: Read August 2020 courtesy PanMacmillan Australia


My Thoughts:

“How do you decide to leave this whole life you’ve built, this family you’ve made, this home you’ve created? The secrets you’ve told, the fears you’ve shared . . . These children you’ve made. How do you decide to just leave?”

After fourteen years of marriage, Lou has realised she is no longer happy, but she feels she can’t just leave, for the sake of both her unsuspecting husband, Josh, and their young daughters, Stella and Rita, she has to try everything to save it. So Lou decides to give their marriage a year, setting tasks for each month that self help books suggest may help repair the rift between her and Josh, from having sex every day for a month, to sharing a fun activity, to marriage counselling, before making a final decision.

“I give my marriage a year. Bold. Underlined. I give my marriage a year. Exhale….. I’m going to try everything I can to save my marriage, Lou wrote into her phone. And if it doesn’t work I’m going to let it go. Exhale.”

Told from the alternating perspectives of Lou and Josh, Holly Wainwright presents a thoughtful, witty, and poignant portrait of a floundering marriage in I Give My Marriage A Year.

Shifting between the past and present, Wainwright sensitively explores the changes in, and the complexities of, a long term marriage, from the carefree bliss of courtship to the irritants, disappointments, compromises, and crises that can erode the foundation of a relationship.

Lou and Josh are well developed characters, whose strengths, flaws and emotions felt authentic. I empathised with both characters, familiar as I am with the ordinary stressors of marriage – finances, parenting, intimacy, housework, and life goals. I felt both Lou and Josh had valid grievances, and though it’s tempting to take sides, I think Wainwright did well to balance the culpability of each in the breakdown of their relationship.

The supporting characters are also well drawn and believable, and contribute effectively to the story. Wainwright shows how the parents’ of Lou and Josh influence the couple’s thoughts about marriage, as well as the experiences of their siblings and friends. Lou’s best friend, Gretchen, provides interesting contrast with her less conventional ideas about relationships. I was also impressed with the author’s realistic portrayal of the children, something many authors struggle with.

Well-written, thought-provoking, and absorbing, though there is plenty of drama and angst to be found in I Give My Marriage A Year, there is also humour and optimism. I quickly found myself invested in the story of Lou and Josh’s marriage, and was never sure if they would reconcile or not, until the last pages.


Available from Macmillan Australia

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    Aug 26, 2020 @ 05:34:33

    This sounds great!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Mystica
    Aug 26, 2020 @ 12:22:49

    I like the humor and optimism bit most. Very important parts in any marriage.
    I am not able to access your site from my computer. Only from the phone!!

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Jan
    Aug 26, 2020 @ 23:35:07

    This sounds interesting. I don’t know that I would have thought of this if my marriage wasn’t working. My husband and I always joked that the one who left had to take our three kids–and though we loved them they had their moments and we needed each other to manage!



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