A Year and Six Seconds: A Love Story by Isabel Gillies
Published by: Voice
Published on: August 2011
Page Count: 256
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
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.