#395 ~ A Year and Six Seconds

A Year and Six Seconds: A Love Story by Isabel Gillies

Published by: Voice

Published on: August 2011

Page Count: 256

Genre: Memoir

My Reading Format: Audiobook provided to me by the narrator for consideration

Audiobook Published by: Tantor Audio

Narrator: Karen White

Audiobook Length: 6 hours 48 minutes

Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook and Audiobook

My Review

Isabel Gillies, the actress best know for playing Detective Stabler’s wife on Law & Order: SVU, was married with two young sons living in an Ohio college town when her husband asks her for a divorce. He has fallen in love with another woman. As there was no turning back, Isabel moves with her sons back to her parents’ lovely rent controlled apartment in Manhattan. It is there that she grieves her marriage, adapts to single motherhood, and finds a new footing for her life.

After reading A Year and Six Seconds and reflecting on Eat, Pray, Love while doing so, I’ve come to realize that divorce memoirs aren’t my cup of tea. I suppose on the one hand this is a good thing because I certainly never want to live through the experience myself. Even though these types of memoirs seem to end with the author in a much better place, I’m just not very interested in the details of why this person’s marriage  didn’t work out. These books start off strong for me. I enjoyed the first sections where Gillies describes how someone can fall in love in six seconds. The endings of her marriage and the beginnings of her new life back in her parent’s rent controlled apartment in Manhattan were interesting. It was what happened between those rough and tumble beginnings and the happy ending that seemed long and repetitive. At that point, unimportant details seemed like unnecessary speed bumps. For example, there is an important scene between Gillies and her mother. At the beginning of the scene, she is in her childhood bedroom with her sons. Before getting to what was important in that encounter, Gillies makes a point to write about her telling her sons to say hello to their grandmother. I know she loves her children. She is a good mother. However, in that situation, their presence and the prompt to say hello added nothing to the story. It made this reader, who was more than ready to get beyond the “what did I do wrongs,” impatient.

This audiobook is narrated by Karen White. She did a wonderful job rolling with the punches and small joys that filled Isabel’s Gillies’ account of her divorce and its aftermath. It was her reading of the book that made it possible for me to finish. Regardless of how I liked Isabel Gillies, I would have lost interest in the book in print somewhere in the middle. Luckily, with Karen White narrated the meat of the story, it was impossible not to continue. The way she read the scene where Gillies parents’ had to have bars placed over their beautiful window was perfect. I can honestly say that I’m glad I finished the book because the last 45 minutes redeemed the experience for me. There is a scene where Karen’s reading brings out the beauty in an otherwise sad experience that warmed my heart.

To Gillies credit, I never once considered tossing the CD across the room the way I did with Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir. She is a kind, down to earth woman who means well in all that she does. I did think she was overly generous to her ex-husband, but in a world where people are tearing each other’s throats out in the public arena for less, this was something like a breath of fresh air. I liked her and I wanted her to be happy. While A Year and Six Seconds wasn’t a perfect read, but I am glad that I finished it. I simply would have preferred the middle section of the book to have been condensed.


  • At 2012.02.06 08:20, Sandy said:

    I’m with you on this one. I do understand that these women who go through a tough time like this are going to be therapeutically purged by writing their memoir. And honestly good for them. But I have no use for it. I sneer at Elizabeth Gilbert, which I know is not nice of me. I just think it is all pretty narcissistic.

    • At 2012.02.07 22:04, Literate Housewife said:

      I was talking to someone the other day and I think it’s true that what’s important to the woman writing this type of memoir finds everything in it important. I agreed and think that those people who will appreciate this book the most wouldn’t think about it the same way that I do. I’m glad to not be in that position myself.

      That being said, Elizabeth Gilbert exhibits way too much self importance and that has nothing to do with that damn book! I wouldn’t have liked her before Eat, Pray, Love. I can honestly say that I would like Isabel Gillies. That’s the difference.

    • At 2012.02.06 09:52, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

      I’ve never experienced Karen White’s narration, but I really want to! Sorry this wasn’t your favorite book.

      Read more from bermudaonion (Kathy)

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      • At 2012.02.07 22:06, Literate Housewife said:

        Kathy, you need to pick up The Peach Keeper in audio. It was such a fun read and we both love Southern Fiction. I believe Karen has narrated at least one other of Sarah Addison Allen’s novels. They would be a nice place to start with Karen.

      • At 2012.03.03 18:51, February 2012 Recap said:

        […] A Year and Six Seconds by Isabel Gillies (audio review ~ narrated by Karen White) Restoration by Olaf Olaffson (print review) Holy Ghost Girl by Donna Johnson (audio review ~ narrated by Carrington MacDuffie) A Good American by Alex George (print review) The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston (print review) The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy (Kindle review) Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer (audio review ~ narrated by Roger Allam and Emilia Fox) The Book of Lost Fragrances by M. J. Rose (eGalley review) Doctor No by Ian Fleming (audio review ~ narrated by Simon Vance) Goldfinger by Ian Fleming (audio review ~ narrated by Simon Vance) […]

        (Required, will not be published)

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