Don’t You Forget About Me by Suzanne Jenkins
Paperback: 346 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 29, 2011)
When charming, seemingly devoted Jack Smith dies, his wife and his two girlfriends are astonished to learn that they were not the only love of his life, and that, in fact, Jack was a rogue who was carrying on secret existences with other women. Shattered by grief and stunned by Jack’s betrayals, these three women, Pam Smith, Marie Fabian, and Sandra Benson, find themselves suddenly thrown together. They could have despised one another, jealously guarding their private memories of their time with Jack and hating those they perceived to be their rivals, but instead, the women begin to realize there might be strength in numbers and in shared pain. Slowly, they begin to open their hearts to one another. They bind together to try to make sense of their lives and to try to heal the terrible shock.
But the more they learn about Jack and his nefarious past, the more they begin to question everything they thought they ever knew about him. Not only did Jack carelessly cheat on each of them, without thought to the harm he was causing, but the women are stunned to discover a secret of Jack that he never revealed.
As the women try to piece together the real life story of Jack, they begin to deal with their own lives differently, as well. They must deal with Jack’s heartbroken mother, who knew nothing about her son’s clandestine dealings in life. The tragedy also takes a toll on their working lives, and most of all it takes a toll on them, robbing them of sleep, hope, and even dreams. But with a sense of shared sisterhood, a little laughter, and a whole lot of determination, these brave women forge brave new lives that are full of promise.
The novel probes the difficulties in thinking that we can ever really know a person, even a loved one. All the women in Don’t You Forget About Me wonder if they had been really and truly loved by Jack, or if he had simply played them for fools. They question their own blindness to his faults and how they allowed themselves to believe that they might have had it all, when what they had was really more of a dream. The book investigates modern social problems with grace and warmth. Infidelity, it uncovers, can do more than break hearts. In showing some of the worst things that can happen in relationships,it also teases us to imagine the best, a world in which loyalty, devotion and fidelity are prized. As the characters grow and change, they have the possibility for those things.
Don’t You Forget About Me is a tale of love lost and then found again. A sequel to Pam of Babylon, Don’t You Forget About Me can also be read all on its own. You will not like this book if many characters and lot of twists and turns is not your cup of tea.
I hope this guy doesn’t turn out to be a jerk,Marie Fabian thought as she drove upstate to spend the weekend at Jeff Babcock’s.She had met him on the beach in front of her sister Pam’s house back in June.So far they had coffee together twice, lunch three times, and dinner every weekend for the past six weeks.When Jeff invited her to visit him for the weekend at his house in Rhinebeck, it seemed like a great idea to get out of the city and not go to Pam’s for a change.But now, as she navigated the Taconic Parkway in weekend traffic, she wasn’t so sure.Doubts floating through her mind eroded the excitement she had felt when she locked her apartment door that morning.Walking toward the garage to get her car, dragging her suitcase behind her, she caught herself whistling a little.
Now she was questioning her wisdom. What was I thinking?She barely knew the guy.He had lived down the beach from Pam and her late husband Jack for twenty years, and she had never seen him before.Or hadn’t noticed him.Someone else was taking all her attention.Now she was faced with the possibility that Jeff would want to sleep with her that weekend.They hadn’t discussed the sleeping arrangements; Marie assumed she would sleep alone.Do I want to sleep alone?she thought.
For a forty-five-year-old woman, Marie had little experience with dating in general and men in particular. Or, more accurately, more than one man. She was simply allowing “things” to happen with Jeff, not putting up too many boundaries, but not getting overly involved too quickly, either. She was having difficulty figuring out his intensions. Although he pursued her, once they were finally together, he wasn’t acting very interested.
She turned the radio on to keep her mind thinking about something else.An old Don Henley song came on, and she belted out the chorus to “Boys of Summer”:
I can tell youmy love for you will still be strong
After the boys of summer have gone
It had only been weeks since Jack Smith died, and she was already going away for the weekend with another man while singing the songs Jack used to sing to her.Could it be possible that she was over Jack already?She thought back to the first time she met Jeff.She had fled the city that day, feigning illness or family emergency at work (she couldn’t remember which now), getting into her car, and heading toward her sister’s house in Babylon.She went over the speed limit all the way, keeping up with traffic.As soon as she got there, she put on her bathing suit, grabbed a beach chair and a paperback, and went out to sit in the sun. It was a perfect beach day, and the sand was packed with other sunbathers.The area in front of Pam’s was already crowded, so she had to walk south a few yards to find an empty spot. She ended up in front of Jeff’s fabulous house. The oceanfront facade and landscaping appeared in the Sunday home section of the paper just about every summer.
Most all the sunbathers followed the sun’s path, moving their towels and chairs every thirty minutes or so as it traveled toward the west.But Marie liked facing the ocean.She would look up from her book periodically to stare at the water, hopefully spotting dolphins or boats, way, way out there.When Jack was alive, he always remembered to bring binoculars, and they would take turns examining the horizon for interesting finds.
Jack liked looking at people, too. He’d find lovers kissing under their umbrellas or suspicious movements underneath carefully placed towels.He was really a pervert, she thought to herself.Creepy. She relished being alone for the first time in her memory.She could nap without worrying if she drooled or snored, or mindlessly snack while she read her novel.
Jack could also be a tyrant.She remembered, on one of their beach days together when she was just twenty years old, falling asleep on a beach towel and waking up to find Jack staring at her body with his lips slightly pursed.She sat up self-consciously, hoping she hadn’t farted in her sleep.
“What’s wrong?” she asked him, quickly pulling her towel around her.
He was sitting next to her, scrutinizing her face and looking along the length of her.
“You’re thin, but you’re not in shape.You need to work out.”He said, nodding his head yes at her, and turned to look out at the ocean again.
Eager to please him in every way, she agreed, saying she would start going to the fitness center at school as soon she as she got back to the city.
“Yeah right,” he said sarcastically.Then more kindly, “You should ask your sister to give you some advice about a workout.Ask Pam. She’s in great shape,” he said with a devious smile. It was the first time Jack had ever held his wife, her sister Pam, up to Marie as an example.It would be the beginning of years of humiliation and criticism that he would pile on, playing the sisters against each other in a battle that Pam knew nothing about.
Worried that he may be plotting to end their relationship, Marie would have done anything he asked to keep him happy and near her.“Okay, I’ll ask her. Maybe she’ll take me to the gym with her.”
But he ignored her, lying back down on the towel and closing his eyes, his forearm draped over his face, ensuring that he didn’t have to see her.She held her stomach in and stood up straighter the rest of the day, regretful that she had worn a two-piece suit. That evening she would find one of the provocative underwear catalogues Pam shopped from and buy a suit with a push-up bra and tummy control panel. And that night, Jack would come to her bed, and she welcomed him, the insults at the beach already forgotten.
This book is just as good, if not better than the first book, Pam Of Babylon.
The idea that the three women in Jack’s life connect and heop each other through this ordeal is still very strange to me. But for them, it works…to a certain extent.
There are more twists and surprises, and the characters seem even more deep than the did in the first book. New characters are introduced and they bring new aspects to the book.
I loved this book, and definitely recommend this series.
About The Author:
Suzanne Jenkins lives in the west Michigan lakeshore area with her husband, two dogs and two sheep. To learn more about Suzanne, author of Pam of Babylon and other stories, visit her blog.
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