Disclosure: I received an ebook in exchange for my review.
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Jennie Bateman has again fallen in love with Thomas, her former husband, but Tasha, one of his children, is determined to destroy their relationship.
Jennie had done that herself a number of years earlier. In the midst of a manic episode, she had deserted Thomas and their two daughters, choosing, instead, a life of shameless debauchery.
Perhaps she was shocked when Thomas filed for a divorce. Perhaps it was the influence of a preacher who took an interest in her. Perhaps she simply cycled back toward normal.
Whatever the cause, years later, when she again made contact with her family, she was a different person. Even so, they wanted nothing to do with her.
But time moves on. Circumstances change.
Jennie has been accepted by her children. Thomas’s second wife has died, leaving him a single parent with four adult daughters and a newborn. In Jennie’s eyes, he is the same good-looking, kind, loving person she had fallen for when they were in college.
While Jennie has fallen in love with Thomas, he has no interest in romance. He is still mourning the loss of his second wife, he is caring for their infant daughter, and he still nurses the hurt he felt when Jennie abandoned him so many years before. He does not want her around his children, and he is determined to shelter his infant daughter from her.
As time passes, though, he finds himself attracted to Jennie again, discovering she now resembles the girl with whom he once fell in love, rather the shrew who once walked out of his life.
Tasha knows of Jennie’s earlier life and she has discovered that she still takes medication to control her behavior.
“Are these your crazy pills?” Tasha mocks her as she snatches the bottle from Jennie’s hand. “If I flush them, will you be crazy in the morning? Only a weakling depends on medicine,” she asserts.
She insists that whether Jennie takes the medication or not, she will ultimately relapse, that another manic episode lies ahead, perhaps just around the bend. She taunts Jennie by printing documents from the internet to support her claim. She reminds Jennie that if she were to relapse after marrying Thomas, she would ruin his life – a second time.
Shamed by Tasha, Jennie ponders tossing her medication, hoping to prove to both of them that she can live without it. As she considers what to do, she fears that she will fail the test, be unable to cope, and her demons– anger, alcohol, and sex − will come rushing back to thwart her chance for a second marriage just as they destroyed her first.
Thomas would not try to cope with those demons again, would he? She couldn’t ask that of him, could she?
In Once and Future Wife we follow Jennie as she goes a second round with her demons, hoping to find a way to stop them from destroying the love and happiness that finally seem to be within her reach.
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I had read Those Children Are Ours and really liked it. The premise of the story is that mom has mental illness that is not properly cared for and she abandons her family – her husband and two girls. After several years, she’s back on the scene a changed woman.
Moving forward into Once and Future Wife Thomas’s life is turned upside down again with the death of his wife and instead of being left with two girls, this time he has five girls. Needing help – and a friend – he turns to Jennie; the woman who abandoned him and his daughters the first time.
As a wife and mother who has mental illness, there were parts of the book that really hit home with me. The hate that Tasha had towards Jennie and the things that she would say; they cut straight to my heart. It is hard when others don’t understand what we go through. It’s hard for someone outside of our little world to understand the sickness that we deal with. It isn’t a choice.
I felt that in a sense, I could be Jennie; walking through Jennie’s life and having the same thoughts Jennie had.
I truly enjoyed both books and believe both books could be read alone, but are much better together. Those Children Are Ours gives us the background to Thomas and Jennie that comes before Once and Future Wife but Once and Future Wife is several years later.
I highly recommend picking up both books!
Also Available – Those Children Are Ours
Jennie Bateman screamed at her daughters, cursed at her husband, packed a bag, and walked away. Twelve years later, she petitions the family court for visitation with her daughters, Alexis and Christa.
Her attorney tells Jennie that, ordinarily, she could not imagine that some type of visitation would not be granted. But, she warns, the situation is hardly ordinary.
True, Jennie suffered from a bipolar disorder when she began to drink heavily, abandoned her family, and moved in with another man. True, she has turned her life around: leaving her boyfriend, returning to school, entering therapy, taking medication, finding a job, and joining a church.
But she pressed no claim for her children when her husband divorced her, and she has made no attempt to contact them in any way since then. Her daughters, now sixteen and fourteen, live four hundred miles away. They have busy lives that do not include her, lives that will be totally disrupted by the visitation that she requests. Their father is engaged to be married to a woman who has taken the role of their mother for a decade. Alexis remembers nothing good about Jennie. Christa recalls nothing at all.
Conflict ensues as soon as Jennie’s petition is served: her former husband does not want to share his children with the woman who deserted him; her children have no interest in knowing the mother who abandoned them, and her father insists that she is being timid and ought to demand full custody, not simply visitation.
As court convenes, Jennie’s past is dredged up− the desertion, the men, her drinking, her mental health − and paraded before the judge. Her claim to be a different person, now, is attacked. The judge hesitates to grant Jennie’s request, but reluctantly agrees to order three trial visits.
If persuading the judge to let her see her children was difficult, convincing them to allow her to be a part of their lives seems to be almost impossible. What happens as she finally begins to connect with her daughters places them all in grave danger and threatens her life, itself.
David enjoys traveling, photography, baking bread, and the Carolina beaches.
He has photographed subjects as varied as prehistoric ruins on the islands of Scotland, star trails, sea gulls, a Native American powwow, and his grandson, Jack. David and his wife have traveled widely in the United States and the United Kingdom. During one trip to Scotland, they visited Crathes Castle, the ancestral home of the Burnett family near Aberdeen. In The Reunion, Michael’s journey through England and Scotland allows him to sketch many places they have visited.
David has graduate degrees in psychology and education and previously was Director of Research for the South Carolina Department of Education. He and his wife have two daughters.