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I agreed to read and review in conjunction with the Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tour, in large part because of the title and the cover art. Both are compelling and intriguing. The term “widowed mistress” jumps out at you, almost daring you to pick the book up and see who coined that phrase . . . and why. And the woman on the cover looks so distraught, so alone . . . I just had to hear her story and understand how the choices she made in her life brought her to the point of sitting alone on that step, holding those rapidly wilting roses.

Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress is frequently difficult to read, not only because the topic is one normally relegated to whispered dinner party conversation, screamed in tabloid headlines, or used by lawyers to extract large, quiet settlements. In America, we think of mistresses as women on one end of the spectrum or the other: They are either drug addicted madames like Heidi Fleiss or sparkling new trophy wives who suddenly begin showing up at the country club or in the carpool lane (in a much nicer vehicle than they used to drive). They seldom look like your sister, neighbor, coworker or best friend. They certainly don’t stare back at you from the bathroom mirror.

So first-time author challenges her readers to put a new face on infidelity by telling her own story of a five-year extramarital relationship that began as a sexual encounter designed to help her escape briefly from her desperately unhappy marriage . . . and ended up being a very real affair of the heart that ended tragically when her lover, Carlos, was diagnosed with and quickly succumbed to amyloidosis, a rare blood condition.

My review of the book was candid. I took van Eyck to task for what were, in my opinion, the most unscrupulous and callous details of her story. Surprisingly, she appreciated my honesty and we began a free-flowing dialogue via Facebook. I invited her to be a guest author here at Colloquium in order to expound a bit on both my and other readers’ reactions to the book, which is getting excellent reviews. She not only accepted my invitation, but has also graciously agreed to present an autographed copy of the book to one lucky reader, selected at random (details below).

Readers React to Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress

by
Megan van Eyck

Author Megan van Eyck
I am thankful for the wonderful response I have gotten from readers since the publication of Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress. I have made new friends, met some wonderful women, and been blessed beyond my expectations.

One of my great newfound joys as an author is opening my inbox to find e-mails from readers. I have noticed that I get two types of letters.

One type is from women whose husbands have cheated on them. They write to tell me that my story is a delusional piece of smutty fiction born from my own fantasies and narcissism. They pity my husband and scorn me for what my book will mean to my children. They agree that if I am not repentant, I have learned nothing from my dalliances with a married man. These women boast that Carlos could never have loved me . . . that I am an attention-seeking fool.

The other type of letter comes from women who have either been in an affair, or have been a close friend to The Other Woman. They praise the courage and strength I have demonstrated in sharing the nitty-gritty bits of a story that rings very true to the experiences they have known or witnessed. These women say the tale of a hen-pecked, unappreciated, and untended husband, who looks for love outside of marriage, is far from fiction. These letters almost always start with, “I am so sorry for your loss . . . ”

I was a sociology major in college and I like to dabble in psychology; I want to know what makes people tick. I find the obvious discrepancy of perception fascinating.

And sad.

My choice to have an affair may be considered scandalous; I guess my decision to write about it even more so. But . . . I am not motivated by anything but love.
~ Author Megan van Eyck

I did not share the intimate details of my lies, my seeming disregard for the sanctity of my marital bed, or my undying love for a man whose love changed me, simply to garner the shock and awe effect those details have on some readers. It just never occurred to me to write less than the truth, to be anything less than brutally honest and forthcoming.

I don’t see any point in writing a disingenuous memoir. By definition, a memoir is not an autobiography, but a story of evolution and personal change. It is my feeling that when a memoirist skips over the hard, ugly truths, the thing they least want to share with the world, they are spinning a self-aggrandizing half-truth. In my opinion, those types of tales offer little opportunity for growth for either the author or the reader. Those memoirs are nothing more than the author’s unabashed attempts at self-promotion.

So, I laid it all out there because the everyday details of my affair are not unique, special or extraordinary. Yes, cheaters often take their lovers on business trips and expense fancy dinners. Bringing an affair partner home, to share the marital bed and play a bit of house, is common because the marital bed is free. Weekly hotel bills can be both an indiscrete expense and an eventual paper trail chronicling one’s infidelity. And most shockingly, love does happen in affairs, whether the betrayed spouse likes it or not. But most importantly, I told the truth in order to tell a tale of growth, maturation, love, and soulful evolution.

Yes, all of the details may be shocking, offensive, wrong and selfish. I never said they weren’t.

This brings me back to my mail bag. People are only moved to reach out to someone who touches them — either negatively or positively. For some women, my story has affirmed their truths. For others, it reverberates with their worst fears: That a meaningful relationship can evolve within an affair, that marriage is only about duty and obligation, that everything that defines an emotional relationship can be better in an affair than it is in a marriage.

To those women who read my book and only see the things that they fear the most, you have missed the point completely. Despite the wonderful love Carlos and I shared, the adventures we took and the bond that connected us, he still wanted to love his wife. In the end, he wanted her to fight for him, to stand by him, to understand him . . . he believed in her love and devotion to get him through his darkest days, initially dismissing mine. That is not an easy thing for me to admit and it is made even more difficult by what Carlos’s wife did with that love; how she failed him.

I am not saying that he loved his wife more than me, or that his marriage offered him the unconditional security he needed. What I am saying is that, despite everything, he wanted it to. If his wife would have ever admitted to her own failings and shortcomings as a spouse, and committed to working on developing a more mutually satisfying relationship, if she would have made his happiness as much as a priority as her own, I wouldn’t have had a chance.

Carlos and I were more than sex and titillation; we were soul mates. So when you read my story, consider taking it for what it is: my final goodbye to a man I loved and who I wish I could have grown old with.
~ Author Megan van Eyck

Many women choose to only see the betrayal involved with infidelity. But after the dust has settled, I am merely suggesting that you look at your husband as he is, accepting his loneliness, neediness, vulnerability and weakness; his heartbreak over a marriage that may not have been all that he thought it would be. I am saying that he is waiting to love you passionately. Yes, that might mean that you have work to do; that you may have to deal with the truth of your own shortcomings. But as a cheater who was busted, I can promise you that my marriage wouldn’t have stood a long-term chance of growth, rebirth and maturation if my husband had placed all the blame on me and seen only the things in our troubled marriage that justified his anger, fear and selfishness. If he hadn’t accepted all that was between me and Carlos while still having faith to the future we know waits for us, our marriage would be a lie-a term of servitude to the security of our children.

Yes, it is a hard pill to swallow. But those vows that so many people like to throw around do include the words “for better or worse.” Worse can totally suck. But infidelity can offer a glimpse into the shared reality that is at the heart of your marriage . . . to the fact that just maybe your husband is desperate to feel loved unconditionally . . . from you.

Thank you, Megan!

Congratulations to Kimberly Maloney at Historical Fiction Obsession who won a copy of Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress.

28 Comments

  1. I think it’s amusing that she receives emails from women who have been cheated on!! They act like she was the one her husband betrayed them with!

  2. The fact that your review states that parts of the book are hard to read because they are so “shocking” or “infuriating” makes me want to read it just that much more!

  3. I have never been the married woman who has been cheated on, nor the “other woman,” but this book sounds completely scandalous, and that is what makes me want to read it!

  4. mamabunny13

    It takes a a very brave woman to be able to tell such a very personal staory like this.I don’t think it’s up to anyone to judge her but decide to win the book or not. I would love to read her story.
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  5. mamabunny13

    I want to read Memiors Of A Widowed Mistress because I want to see how she dealt with everything.

  6. mamabunny13

    I read your review of the book and I appreciate your honest opinion of it. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Mona Garg

    I found her post to be refreshingly honest and forthright. It is fascinating to me too the discrepancies in perspectives of the same event.

    Admittedly, I was put off at first. But I try not to judge people. Nobody ever really knows the circumstances of others’ lives.

  8. Mona Garg

    I agree that some of Megan and Carlos’ actions during their relationship are not very likely to elicit empathy in her readers.

  9. Mona Garg

    First the title caught my interest and I think the cover is beautiful. I have never read a book from the mistress’ perspective. I’m sure many wouldn’t care and would condemn her outright.

  10. Kimberlee

    That should be an interesting read. It is always eye opening to look at something through someone else’s eyes. This would certainly be no exception.
    ~Kimberlee, SpunkyDiva at live.com

  11. The line that the author wrote about the wife choosing not to put the husbands happiness at the same level, bothers me a bit. How does the author really know if she did or not. She only heard the husbands side. Otherwise, I thought it was very interesting. I would love to read the book.
    twoofakind12@yahoo.com

  12. Hi Ladies!

    Thank you so much for your interest and participation in this giveaway event.

    A couple of things . . .

    I do feel bad when women write to me from a place of pain. Such heated anger, directed at a total stranger, means that they are still suffering. My heart goes out to them as they journey through their circumstances.

    And to poster #11: One point I tried to make in the book is that, in a long term affair, you see your affair partner’s life up close. You are witness to their lives and the actions of those in them. Not all affairs are self-serving superficial hedonistic relationships based only sexual gratification; they can be a full blown relationships. In all honesty, he never specifically said how unhappy he was with her, how she made him feel, or what a task master she was, until he was diagnosed. He didn’t want to play that card-to stir up any more jealousy than was already there. So, it isn’t something I say lightly . . .

  13. Pingback: West Of Mars — Win A Book! » Blog Archive » Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress (Autographed)

  14. i appreciate megan’s honesty. i would love to read her story. thanks for the opportunity 😉

  15. Rachel W.

    I think that when love finds you, you have to take it.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  16. Krystal Larson

    I am a GFC follower and email subscriber as Krystal Larson…I would appreciate the book. Thank you for this giveaway!

  17. Linda Kish

    I enjoyed the review. I think it was very honest and unbiased.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  18. Linda Kish

    I had two husbands who cheated with old girlfriends and then I had a child with a married man (a one-time thing, but that’s all it takes and that doesn’t make it okay either). So, I have seen each side of cheating. And I do see how the love can grow in an affair. Just depends on how much you can accept timewise, I guess.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  19. Linda Kish

    Why would I like to read it? I think it sounds like a great love story.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  20. This is a heartfelt, honest interview. I appreciate the strength that it must take to put everything out there. I would very much love to win a copy of this book. It’s definitely going on my to-read list!!

    Thanks so much for the interview and giveaway 🙂


    Kris
    elfdrop (AT) gmail (DOT) com

  21. I want to read this book after having read the interview. Yes, it sounds like a beautiful love story, but I also want to read it because I can tell from the interview how much meaning the story has to the author. 🙂


    Kris
    elfdrop (AT) gmail (DOT) com

  22. I appreciate the honest review on your site, as well. In fact, it made me even more eager to read the book! Both you and Megan have expressed so much about the emotional depth of the novel and the complexities surrounding her relationship with Carlos. I love books that make us question our morals, what’s right and wrong, and, overall, books about growth.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to do all this (the guest post and giveaway, the detailed review)!


    Kris
    elfdrop (AT) gmail (DOT) com

  23. Pingback: West Of Mars — Win A Book! » Blog Archive » The Midwife’s Confession

  24. Laura H.

    Wow! WOW!!!! This sounds like a VERY intriguing and thought-provoking book! Although I have been happily married for 30 years and the idea of “cheating” on my husband to be repugnant, I am also compelled to feel some empathy for the author. I am saddened by the fact she was not able to have a happy marriage but glad that she was able to have found her soulmate. I would ??? to read this book!

    BornajhawkATaolDOTcom

  25. Laura H.

    I’ll have to admit when I read that your “review of the book was candid” I was hesitant to read your review. I genuinely felt sorry for this woman and I was afraid you were going to be harsh and judgmental. I mean, who are “we” to say what is right or wrong? So I was relieved to read that your review was neither harsh nor judgmental but, as you say, “candid” — and even more importantly, honest. I was interested to see that you and the author exchanged dialogue which, I assume, resulted in a new understanding and both were “gracious” enough to share this book with your followers.

    BornajhawkATaolDOTcom

    • JHS

      Laura:

      It is not my place to judge anyone else. Her story is so personal and heart-wrenching . . . I think when you read the book, you will see that there is no black and white — only myriad shades of gray. Everyone involved in the situation loses in his/her own way. Megan and Carlos found real love, but could not or would not legitimize it, for a variety of reasons.

      I love to read books like Megan’s — they allow me to live vicariously through the author, experiencing life in ways that I otherwise wouldn’t. Megan and I have had some lovely exchanges via Facebook, and discovered that, despite our different journeys, we also have a few things in common. She has been very gracious to author the guest post and provide a copy of her book. She seems very happy with her life the way it is now, so I am happy for her.

  26. Laura H.

    I would love to read this book because I think it invokes the whole gamut of emotion — from sadness to bliss, from outrage to empathy and compassion .

    BornajhawkATaolDOTcom

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