The Other Woman Review
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It’s a tricky subject, infidelity. It’s usually whispered about, as opposed to being talked about. But in this collection of essays, The Other Woman, twenty-one women bare their souls in an honest, unflinching look at the Other Woman and how she’s affected their lives.

In some cases, the author was the other woman; most other times, the loyal wife or girlfriend. What struck me was the varied ways in which the discovery was handled. Some women took the news well, with a benign sort of acceptance. Others lunged at their rivals and had to be physically restrained. One woman, on learning that her newlywed husband had a crush on a tall, brainy beauty at work, attacked the problem this way: “Invite the bitch to dinner.”

There is tragedy here, some life lessons, even humor. I liked the image, in “Not Istanbul” by Pam Houston, of the other woman taking up residence in her brain, eating chocolates, moving furniture, and throwing her scarves around. Then there was the other side: the young mother of two (Mary Jo Eustace, “Palm Springs”) who, while on vacation, learns of her actor husband’s plans to couple with Tori Spelling. No happy ending there.

Some of the stories highlight the complications of love, such as “Iowa Was Never Like This” by Jane Smiley, in which the author weeds out several possible boyfriends to find the perfect one. Trouble is, he’s still involved with a younger woman—a “sex-goddess,” no less. When the author finds that all the women in his life have been trouble, she transforms herself into an easygoing, trouble-free girlfriend—and patiently waits out her competition.

Things got creepy for one author (Diana Ab-Jaber, “The Lost City of Love”) when the other woman fixated on her, sending her little notes and phone messages. Who are you? Why are you even in my life? I dreamed of you again last night. It went on for years, long after the original affair was over. The husband, when confronted with this evidence, was indignant—it wasn’t his fault; he had only slept with her a few times! Finally, the other woman tired of her obsession and faded away.

The stories in this anthology are compelling, addictive, and immensely readable. Once you start, you may be unable to stop. The Other Woman is unlike any other collection you’re likely to read, so—guilty pleasure or not—go ahead and enjoy.

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