A book report: The Wednesday Group

The Wednesday Group Calling this a book review sounds too formal and like I somehow have some expertise in this kind of thing, which I don’t. So, I will just call it a book report.

The book is called: The Wednesday Group, by author: Sylvia True

It is a work of fiction and it follows a short timeframe in the lives of five wives of sex addicts and their participation in a weekly ‘wives of sex addicts’ support group. Here is the blurb on Amazon:

Gail. Hannah. Bridget. Lizzy. Flavia. Each of them has a shameful secret, and each is about to find out that she is not alone… Gail, a prominent Boston judge, keeps receiving letters from her husband’s latest girlfriend, while her husband, a theology professor, claims he’s nine-months sober from sex with grad students. Hannah, a homemaker, catches her husband having sex with a male prostitute in a public restroom. Bridget, a psychiatric nurse at a state hospital, is sure she has a loving, doting spouse, until she learns that he is addicted to chat rooms and match-making websites. Lizzy, a high school teacher, is married to a porn addict, who is withdrawn and uninterested in sex with her. Flavia was working at the Boston Public library when someone brought her an article that stated her husband had been arrested for groping a teenage girl on the subway. He must face court, and Flavia must decide if she wants to stay with him. Finally, Kathryn, the young psychologist running the group, has as much at stake as all of the others. As the women share never-before-uttered secrets and bond over painful truths, they work on coming to terms with their husbands’ addictions and developing healthy boundaries for themselves. Meanwhile, their outside lives become more and more intertwined, until, finally, a series of events forces each woman to face her own denial, betrayal and uncertain future head-on.

From author Sylvia True comes The Wednesday Group, a captivating, moving novel about friendship, marriage, and the bonds that connect us all.

So, I read this book a couple months ago and have been digesting it since. Really, trying to decide whether I would recommend it or not and how to explain how I feel about the book. I heard about the book from a friend who is also the wife of a sex addict. She was reading it. She didn’t necessarily refer it to me and she didn’t recommend it at the time as she had just started it, but I was intrigued by it’s premise and I did eventually purchase it. I was drawn into the book and it’s characters and I think I would have been even if I wasn’t married to a sex addict, or maybe I would have been more drawn in if I wasn’t the wife of a sex addict. I attended a ‘wives of sex addict’ support group myself for exactly two weeks before I dropped out because I couldn’t handle it. I knew I would have eventually been able to handle the heartbreaking stories… I know I would have become better at sharing my own story without feeling it wasn’t compelling enough (I know, right???), but what I could not get over was the fact that none of the women were living with their husbands, regardless of what their husbands were doing regarding sobriety and recovery. I needed to be with women who wanted their marriage to work. I needed them to believe.

Oh, and one of my favorite things to do is read Amazon reviews of books (I never read 50 Shades of Grey, but I read a boat load of hilarious reviews), just to see what other people say.  I should stop doing this as it is a waste of time and can be extremely frustrating. Here is an example why. I SO wanted to reply to this person that they have no idea how sex addiction works and that their spoiler alert sounds ignorant to those of us that do understand, but I can’t change the world. Waste of time trying. This person gave the book 3/5 stars and wrote this review:

“The Wednesday Group is about five women in a therapy group that deals with wives of sex addicts. Each woman has a different situation — one’s husband is cheating, one’s watches too much porn, one was a groper, etc. I thought it was well-written, and the stories of the women’s relationships and their interactions with each other compelling enough to keep turning the pages. What didn’t work for me as well was that it was really more “slice of life” than novel story arc — things happened and then they didn’t anymore. And as much as it was a peek into sex addiction *SPOILER ALERT* one of the characters was married to man who was clearly gay, not necessarily a sex addict, but just seeking out sex with his preferred gender vs. the wife at home he didn’t want. That was never addressed or resolved… the wife just carried on wondering if she could learn to deal with his “addiction,” and I felt quite frustrated. Nonetheless. a solid three stars”

Do I even need to say this? Maybe I do. Regardless of what sex addicts use as their drug… masturbation, porn, sex with prostitutes (male or female), bi-sex, sex with transvestites, sex in bathrooms, sex on the kitchen counter, sex with married people, group sex, sex on a boat, whatever, it is a drug. How they have sex when using it as a drug may have everything to do with childhood wounds and nothing to do with sexuality. Just because a man has sex with a male prostitute does not make him gay (NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH BEING GAY, OBVIOUSLY!!!). There. I said it. Ah, I thought I could get away without having to do this. Nope.

Moving right along… maybe, more than a year later, some of the women in my original wive’s group now believe? I know the group is still ongoing. The group in this novel is nothing like the group I experienced. I am not sure there is any group that would be like the one in the book. The participants are able to cross talk, talk over people, about people, put people down, swear, etc… They go out after meetings and drink a lot of alcohol. We were asked not to participate in any drugs or alcohol on the nights of our support group meetings, especially not to use alcohol to medicate our feelings. After reading this book, I can see why our therapist moderator asked us not to drink. Most of the women in my group joked about it often during the meetings. I do not drink. Although the stories themselves, of the sex addicts, and the wives, in the book, were intriguing and interesting, this is a work of fiction. The write-up is designed to sell books. It includes words like “shameful secret,” and “catches her husband having sex with a male prostitute in a public restroom,” and “groping a teenage girl on the subway.” Despite the write-up, the book is really about the wives, what they go through, how difficult it is to talk about all this, the consequences to their self esteem, their lives, their physical health, their jobs, their livelihood, how we judge each other’s situations and rationalize our own, for better, or worse. I’m not sure this book would have helped me understand sex addiction any better, even if I knew nothing, but it is an interesting read about the particular female characters that were developed to tell this story. Another Amazon reviewer marked it down because it wasn’t “SEXY” enough. Seriously, seriously people. Sex addiction is NOT SEXY!

I will say, I found the women in the book interesting and their stories compelling, and it was a very quick read. She does sort of grab a real variety of sex addict scenarios and put them together in one book and it makes it infinitely more interesting than real life, where the sex addiction stories are often far less diverse. But she could do that, because, voila, fiction. It was the first ever e-book I have purchased and I finished it over a weekend, reading it in bits here and there. In the end, the book felt cut off to me and maybe that was a message the author was trying to send about being the wife of a sex addict. You take it one day at a time. The book was told in a specific block of time (a few weeks, literally) in the lives of these women. A LOT happens in these few weeks. Being the wife of a sex addict cannot be told in a few weeks. I guess that was the point. Who knows. After reading the book I had a burning desire to understand why the author, who seemingly has no experience with sex addiction, would write this book.

In an interview with the author earlier this year (Interview with Sylvia True), Ms. True said this regarding the question “Where did the idea for the book come from?” “…it was pretty clear that my intentions, probably driven much more by my subconscious than conscious mind, were to explore the issue of shame and how to move past it. Shame has been a constant in my life, and something I am always struggling to overcome. It makes sense that in the end this was the emotion I really wanted to explore, and what better way to explore it than with an addiction that is mired in shame?”

She has some other interesting answers to questions like “How much research did you do… ?” She read Carnes, blogs, websites, and articles, but she also interviewed wives of sex addicts and used their stories (with just enough changed to protect their anonymity). She says she always wanted the stories to come from the wive’s perspectives as there are already many books written from the addict’s perspective and, as she says, “it really struck me that the spouses, who often stay and support their husbands or wives, and who keep the family together and functioning, are given almost no attention. The disease of addiction affects the whole family, and I think it’s important to acknowledge the struggles — and the courage — of other family members.” That is a nice sentiment, and in the end, I guess she does that with these women, to a certain degree. With her characters she does, at times, manage to show how painful, sad, frustrating, hopeless, shameful, infuriating, confusing, belittling, humiliating, and lonely the process of living with a sex addict can be. To some degree, it could crossover to living with betrayal in general. She also covers a lot of bases in terms of the personalities of the wives. By the end of the novel, some of the marital relationships are irrevocably broken, some might be salvaged. Some of the men are working at recovery, some are not. One turns out not to be a sex addict at all (and I am not even going to say whether it was the same man as the commenter “OUTED” above).

Towards the end of the interview, the question is asked “What would you like readers to take away from The Wednesday Group?” The author’s answer is simple. “Find support. Talk to people. Be open. Most people are kind by nature and want to help.” I think this is good advice for many of the challenges life throws at us. It is good advice for all betrayed spouses, in my opinion. Find the right kind of support. What I will say, however, is that I doubt there is a therapist out there that would advocate for the kind of support group atmosphere outlined in this book. Perhaps it just made for better reading? I mean, in the Chapter titled ‘Session One,’ as Gail and Bridget are arguing and Bridget says, “So then I’ll fucking leave,” I laughed out loud trying to picture that happening the first session of the wive’s group I briefly attended. Most of us were crying and so distraught we couldn’t even choke out our stories much less argue, WITH EACH OTHER! Ms. Second Chance probably would have fallen off her pretty little chair and mussed her perfect little “do” if one of us had said the “F” word. The book was much more entertaining and generally less triggering or traumatizing, by far, than real life.

In the end, the book is not as developed as it could be. It’s a relatively short, easy read. I think this excerpt sums up what the author was trying to say with this book, “I feel like we should have known more. If we were her friends, like we said, we should have known what was going on in her head. We could have done something. I mean, I kind of made fun of her life being so hunky-dory with a sex addict. It’s like we never took her totally seriously. And when she really needed us, she probably didn’t think we’d be there.”

It hurts to feel isolated and alone. Finding people who understand, and having a support network, can be really important to healing, it can also seem impossible.

I don’t have a fancy rating system with stars or thumbs up or percentages or tomatoes, but I would say it is a worthwhile read. Don’t expect too much. It kept me entertained for a couple of days. I wanted to go back to it when I wasn’t reading it. That’s a positive.

6 thoughts on “A book report: The Wednesday Group

  1. Hi,
    I absolutely loved your “book report”, which was actually a very insightful review, a real review, better written than most. Your honesty in your blog, your sense of humor, and your courage to heal are inspirational. Wishing you all the best.
    Sylvia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whether this is THE Sylvia True, or not, I really appreciate your comment. Thank you for the wishes and the compliments. I read back through my report, and the quote regarding shame resonated now, months later. It is still something that is often blogged about and written about, but possibly not completely dealt with by many in order to truly heal. I know my husband is still working at it as are many wives and other betrayed. It can be an overwhelmingly destructive emotion and I love that that was an impetus for the book.

      Like

  2. Just finished reading this book Kat.
    I was drawn to it because I was interested to hear their stories. To be honest I thought it was like a read you would find in a magazine. It seemed too superficial with character development but in the end it was a quick easy read on a subject I wish I never knew about.

    Like

    • Yeah, it was less developed than I would have liked, but still interesting characters and in the end, I really did want to find out what happened versus just losing interest. You knew Gail was going to have a “wake up” moment, I just didn’t realize it was going to go quite like that. I also still wanted to know what happened to the characters once the book was over. It was a strange format. I also find it strange that the author who supposedly does not have experience with sex addiction even wanted to write this book. I don’t think she did any harm in terms of understanding sex addiction. I just wouldn’t want anyone to think that there actually is a wive’s group like the one she describes… that seemed to be the most convoluted part for me. And you know, I wish I knew nothing on the subject either. ❤

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s