Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story
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A story about love, marriage, family and heartbreak, Gillies' memoir-which reads like an intimate conversation between friends over a martini-is the moving story of how her -perfect- first marriage came to a shocking and sudden end. A city girl all her life, Gillies moves with her husband to a small Midwestern college town in her thirties, where they teach and raise their two young sons. Then, with little warning, this fairytale marriage shatters when Gillies- husband leaves her for another woman-one of Gillies- best friends. In telling her story, Gillies brings forth a rich cast of characters-her parents, friends, old teachers, beaus, and students-as well as the food she loves so dearly to cook-as she opens up about the experience of what it-s like for a New York City girl to try and raise a family in a tiny town in the heartland-only to see the life she-s built for herself crumble. Far from a self-pitying diatribe, Happens Every Day is a straightforward story about the complicated things that can happen to us in life-what does happen to people every day. Gillies approaches her life with no axes to grind. Instead, she reminds herself and her readers that how we handle the bad stuff is what shapes us and our future. As Gillies puts it, Happens Every Day -is about trying to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness, and loving your life, even if it-s slipping away.-

Customer Reviews:

  • It Happens Too Much!!
    This book is superb; written in a very interesting and personal mode; you get to almost know the author in a personal manner. You know what is coming and keep hoping it doesn't. Reflects a sad situation and describes it in real, down-to-earth terms....more info
  • Me, Me , Me... lets talk about YOU, what do you think about ME?
    I wanted to feel bad for this author but I just couldn't muster it up. I started to sympathize with her husband. As a woman who went through a divorce I can understand the pain and emotions but this woman was so needy and self absorbed the poor guy didn't seem to be able to breathe.

    The author comes across as an elitist, which really irritated me. She is from New York (don't worry if you forget this fact you will be reminded many times) but when her husband took a job as a poetry professor at Oberlin College they moved there. As someone who grew up in Ohio and not far from where the story took place, she waxes poetic how she loves the area but takes a lot of pot shots at the locals.

    For example she seems to think that Oberlin did not exist before her and her family arrived. She talks about how the locals were excited about her and her kids selling flowers in mason jars at the local farmers market. How they often got looks of envy from others when walking along the path, how everyone knew they were in town. She also makes comments like "seeing someone in a Marc Jacobs in Ohio is as rare as an owl in Central Park" How hard it was to live in this fish bowl where, according to her the entire town was enthralled with her life, and according to her. In New York ,you could live next to Pavarotti and no one cared but in Ohio I guess they were all star struck. Also my all time favorite, she didn't know Ohio had cable. Give me a break.

    As far as her husband goes, I know more about her home d¨¦cor then I did him, which makes me wonder.. did she even know this man at all, even the night he moves out of their bedroom she mentioned he is sleeping in the guest room with the William Morris Wallpaper (she mentions this Wall Paper and her Lulu upholstery ad nausem).

    She talks about her friends and the only thing you know about them is they are chic, with great furniture and a sense of style and how they serve her. When the other woman enters the picture she befriends her, but as an equal? NOPE.. she decides she is going to take her under her wing, invite her home and show her domesticated life via HER Version because apparently it's what we are all supposed to aspire too. She says it herself this woman was her project.. I don't think Sylvia had a desire to be her project.

    When it all falls apart, granted we all do stupid things for love ,but the scene that got me was when her husband was at a very important dinner with a distinguished member of his department and she sees her dishwasher overflow and can't figure out how to turn it off (it's not that difficult).. so she rolls in there, leaving the kids at home alone with the dog with an overflowinig dishwasher and in her casual clothes and yanks him out in front of his entire department (anyone heard of a plumber).

    In her version the department felt bad for her. I think she was deluded there. She also mentions taking her kids out for Pizza and said she never took them out without her husband for dinner before. With all due respect, how is that possible unless her husband was chained to her.

    The last thing that did it for me.. was the constant drinking, wine, wine and more wine, lots of it and on many pages.. a few margaritas with the girls and of course the six months of Ambien which is fine , EXCEPT she was still nursing her youngest son through all of this.. to me that was beyond irresponsible.

    Also the language, in which the F word and GD, seemed to find its way in everyday conversation.. For highly educated people, I would think they would curtail this around the small children. It seemed classless.

    I don't agree with the way her husband handled things.. I am glad she is okay and her kids are thriving.. I wish her the best in her life, but the self absorbed tone was irritating, and though I would never wish what happened to her on anyone, she needed to come out of her "world revolves around me" bubble.
    ...more info
  • I loved this book!
    I live in Oberlin and have worked at OC for a long time. I absolutely loved this book. It was a good, fast read that kept me so entertained that I had to finish it in one day. Without commenting any further on any of the people mentioned (most of whom I know), I believe it was a fair and honest portrayal of the end of one woman's marriage and how she must have felt....more info
  • Compelling Account of Events That Sadly, Really Do Happen Every Day
    So glad I read this book. It's engrossing; once I started reading, I couldn't stop. The author shares the compelling, heart-breaking story of the unraveling of her marriage - a coming apart due, in large part (it seems from the book), to her husband's decision to become emotionally (and later physically) involved and intimate with one of his co-workers. Isabel is brutally honest about her pain, reactions, thoughts, and her own flaws, which provides authenticity to her account of events and makes it one I could relate to. Her writing is engaging and each chapter ends with a hook that makes it very hard to stop reading there.

    Despite what's written in some of the negative reviews, I didn't find the author's tone or writing style to be off-putting, self-serving, or arrogant. Her thoughts on her home, life in New York and Ohio, and physical attraction to her husband - these were simply part of her reality and part of what made her husband's actions so painful to her.

    Thanks, Isabel, for sharing your story and describing how you got through this painful series of events. ...more info
  • Entertaing and empowering...sorta
    I'm always a fan of books where women find ways of empowering themselves and this book is definitely an example. However, it is sort of like reading the journal of one of the women from "Housewives of Orange County". I lived in Orange County for three years and there's a reason I left. I find people that define themselves and others around them by their possessions boring. The snarky tone of the book was mildly amusing but there were times that I found myself thinking "Jeebus, if you really think that this is a travesty, try spending some recovering heroine addicts...that's suffering."...more info
  • Simply not readable
    I hate to write a bad review but I was unable to get through this book. I tried several times and actually did read the first 7 pages (3 different times), then tried to skip ahead to find an interesting section but was unable to find one. Sorry, just couldn't get through it....more info
  • Good Read
    All-too-real account of love and betrayal. I was compelled to take every opportunity to finish this book. In the end, it is obvious that the author still very much loves her ex-husband, even after all he has put her through. Heart-breaking, yet not self-indulgent. ...more info
  • So Bad, It's Good
    Happens Everyday is the most engaging memoir that I've ever read. It reads like fiction, yet is unbelievably real. Isabel Gillies tells an honest story about the shocking demise of her marriage. She tells her story with insight, humility, and raw honesty. Those who have experienced this situation will relate and those who haven't will hope they never do. This book was captivating and a page turner....more info
  • I could have written this story!!
    I could have written this story myself. My DH did the same thing to me with his assistant at GE (after I paid for him to go to graduate school, and moved around the country 4 times for his GE job, and had 2 babies in 2 years.) His affair started when I was pregnant with my youngest, I learned of his affair on Christmas Day before the baby was a year old! Thank you for writing this story, it is painful to read, because I have lived it myself. The book is sort of crowded with words and emotions, but that is exactly how it is. When your husband cheats on you, with someon e that you know, there is no beginning, middle and end. It is lots of hazy confusion. The only thing I can say is that she is lucky that he is not mean and hateful like my ex and his girlfriend are to me and my sons. Thank you for writing this, and lets get together when you are in DC!! Sorry we have so much in common!!!...more info
  • Love is Blind . .
    Clearly this author is into looks. She kept saying HOW gorgeous her husband was - and I would look at his picture and think, huh? But then I realized that to her he WAS gorgeous and wonderful and perfect! I think she was head over heels in love with him and for a time, maybe he was with her. He came across as a total jerk and that's a real hard thing to come to terms with, that the man you love so much and is the father of your precious boys isn't very deserving of it. I loved how she wrote of her children - a very loving mom I thought. I wish her and her boys well. I do wonder how long her ex-husband's marriage will last....more info
  • Quick read, very emotional
    A good book for someone on the midst of a divorce, getting over a divorce or even trying to avoid a divorce in the future.

    Isabella Gillies book discusses what happens what a marriage falls apart from the inside out. ...more info
  • Utter self absorption
    This self indulgent tome makes me think that the husband stayed as long as he could stand being with this self-absorbed, superficial, narcissistic whiner. In addition, I am offended by her consistant references to the amount of wine she drinks or the Ambien she takes right before she goes off to nurse the baby. It wasn't possible to read this book without rolling one's eyes. I can't even give it away to a friend, it is a waste of time....more info
  • An emotional and heart-warming story
    In "Happens Every Day," Isabel Gillies recounts the traumatic events leading up to her divorce from her husband. However, the book is about so much more than just the main plot. It encompasses the emotions of moving, changes in behavior, having children, and the academic lifestyle. This book was definitely written in a fashion that made me feel like I was in the book and cheering for Isabel.

    As the title implies, divorce "Happens Every Day," but it's not every day that someone shares their story in a detailed manner. It's not about relishing in someone else's misfortune, but about relating to the different life-changes that Isabel faces. I think any person reading this will come out with a life lesson - highly recommended! ...more info
  • Spot on!
    This book really hit home for me. It was as if Isabel Gillies was writing my story. Unfortunately the "club" to which Isabel Gillies and I belong (women whose husbands cheated on them and lied about it along the "we're just friends" lines) is a big one. But I felt Isabel's courage as well as her confusion, and it gave me heart. Highly recommended. ...more info
  • Enjoyable reading, but not sure what the point of it is
    Isabel Gillies, a somewhat semi-well-known actress from her appearances on "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" (which I admit I've never seen) comes out of nowhere with this memoir on how her marriage fell apart. I read the inner-flap and was intruiged enough to pick this up.

    In "Happens Every Day: An All True Story" (261 pages), the author retells the story of how she and her husband, a professor of English, came to relocate from NY to Oberlin College, about an hour from Cleveland, Ohio, in the middle of nowhere. After some apprehension, she comes to absolutely love the small-town college environment, only to see things slip away when her husband takes interest in another woman. At one point, Gillies and the other woman meet up for a movie, and Gillies is stunned when she asks her in the abstract how incomprehensible it would be for someone to leave two little children (her own, of course), and the response is "It happens every day". As in: get over it. Quite a stunner, of course.

    That said, I don't know what the point of the book really is. It's a good read, but nothing revelatory. Even more annoying, if that is the right word, is that in the epilogue (one half of a page), Gillies mentions that her husband ended up marrying the other woman, and they all get along fine now, AND that she's found "the love of her life" (the last words of the book), without any further explanation. Huh? ...more info
  • Wonderful!
    This book grabs you from the first page with the gentle compelling sense that you are have a cappuccino with your best friend. Isabel Gillies continues a wonderful narrative that feels true and interesting.

    You may think that you don't really want to read about the breakdown of a marriage, but this book is more like an afternoon spent with a good friend. Don't miss it!...more info
  • Great kindle read!
    Easy, breezy and a pleasure to read. You feel for the author and her struggle but she has such a positive perspective that you never get mired in sadness. Loved it!!...more info
  • Excellent
    I did not know what to expect when I started reading this book, but I liked the premise so I gave it a try.

    I am soooo happy that I did. Who knew that Isabel Gillies was such an excellent writer. This book has it all, love, romance, betrayal and an author who lived it and is willing to write honestly and I have to say, charmingly about it all.

    Reding Happens Every Day is kind of like watching, in awed fascination a car wreck. You know that the people involved are going through a horrible situation and you know that the whole thing is just blowing up, but you can't seem to NOT stare.

    Gillies story is really scary, sad and unfortunately all too true. She thought she married the man of her dreams, had his children and even moved out in the 'middle of nowhere' so that he could teach. After about 5 minutes of peaceful bliss - where Gillies herself admits that 'this perfect life could not continue' the other shoe finally falls. Her husband does not love her anymore - but more maddeningly, he will not admit to her that he is in love with another woman - a friend of Isabel.

    Although I realize that there are two sides to every story and that Gillie's former husband has not written his version, I have to say that reading this book brought out many emotions in me. For one thing, I don't know how Gillies managed to not smack him upside the head a few hundred times. The guy just kept telling her 'I can't be with you' and looked sad - when all the while, he had a crush on another woman. I mean, this guy obviously had no guts - and I found myself yelling at the book 'you wimp'.

    On the other hand, Gillies seemed to be living in some kind of alternative universe - where she seemed to go back and forth between knowing the truth and denying it. This, to me, fit in perfectly with what she was living and I have to say that I highly admire her. Writing this book must have been so incredibly hard and yet, she managed to write a memoir about her separation and divorce that felt fair, honest and above all else - she wrote it all with dignity. I don't know if I could have done that.

    This is an extremely captivating book - the author writes wonderfully and there is an irony here - she is the actress and he is the writer, yet, you would think that Gillies was the professional writer.

    One little sidebar - reading about how Gillies and her husband lived in the same house wayyyy after he had decided he did not leave her was beyond frustrating and I have to admit that this would be the one part that I felt Gillies should have handled differently.

    For fans of Law & Order SVU, you will be disappointed - she barely mentions the show at all and when she does, its really in the briefest of passing.

    I loved, loved this book and I admire Gillies for having the courage to write it. ...more info
  • When those who have it all lose it all...
    What a moving and often heartbreaking book. This true story of the author's quest to find her footing after a shocking and unwelcome shift in her life really got to me. Gillies was successful, beautiful, had it all, and then her husband dropped the D-bomb on her, and suddenly the entire ground beneath her feet shifted, causing her to rethink everything from love to marriage to motherhood.

    It does indeed happen every day, that a spouse leaves or a tragedy strikes. To have your husband walk out of your life for his younger colleague is probably more common than we think, but to go through the process of loss and recovering one's footing, as Gillies does, truly drives home the emotional impact of the experience. Some people have accused Gillies of having too much to begin with, but her blessings are not her fault, and as this book shows, she is not immune from the pain of losing love, something even the most money in the world cannot buy....more info
  • This isn't an "As the World Turns" memoir, it is real life and one well said!
    They were prim and proper WASPs and were doing their best to look and live up to the part. Josiah was an English professor and she was an actress, but the allure of being a stay at home mom was in her blood and she would spend her life raising their two sons . . . or so she thought. There were warning signs, but she quickly dismissed them. He dumped his first wife and unborn child to fool around with Edith, their interests were disparate and they "started fighting almost immediately." When Josiah moved the family to Oberlin to accept a teaching job, her life seemingly became idyllic overnight. They had a beautiful house, many friends, children and of course to round it off, a dog named Plover. She was "wholly in love" with her life, but not for long.

    Sylvia Lutens, Ph.D. had just been hired to teach eighteenth-century English. Josiah had a hand in the hiring and Isabel was thrilled because Sylvia just might be best friend fodder. They were starting to enjoy each other's company and even went running and got their toes done together. Of course unbeknownst to her, Lydia had her eyes on something other than those toes and his name just happened to be Josiah. Can you say ominous? "Izzle? What's the matter?" her Aunt Bea asked. She began to cry. "I cried and I cried. I couldn't make words. I was sucking in air and coughing it out." What would happen to her dream life with Josiah, Wallace and James? Her new job teaching theater? Her whole word went upside down in a matter of weeks.

    I cannot say that I "enjoyed" this book because it is very difficult to savor someone else's misery, but rather throughout the whole book I had a major sympathizathon. The writing was superbly touching, casual and vivid. Isabel could easily have been a friend or a relative that any reader would want to rush to her side to help and comfort her in her time of need. This isn't an "As the World Turns" memoir, it is real life and one well said. Millions of wronged women out there will be able to relate to Izzle and give her what she deserves . . . a high five!...more info
  • Happens every day - An all too familiar story
    After hearing about this book on NPR, I was excited to pick it up. I am a Law and Order fan, so I was intrigued to read a SVU regular's memoir about love and loss. The NPR book review succinctly described a self-depreciating Gillies with raw, quaint writing - somewhat like listening to your best friend.

    This description was accurate. Gillies herself admits she wrote this book in part because her friends say she "writes good e-mails". Unfortunately, I am not sure how well this translates into a riveting read. At times, she goes on and on, repeating herself, jumping from past to present to future in a few short breaths. And yet, it works. It is "an all too true story" and it comes across that way. This is like listening to someone's intensive therapy sessions.

    That said, I took issue with her as a person. She comes off a bit snobbish (which she admits too) and naive - incredibly, ridiculously over-dramatic, self-absorbed, and silly. Again, which at times she admits to. She involves virtually everyone who ever knew her within hours of finding out her husband might be leaving her. There were points in the book when I have to say I was awed by her utter lack of reality and unabashed honesty - oh dread - Ohio (her children will be midwesterners!). As an academic, I was revolted at her lack of understanding as to why her husband did not come home until six even though he only taught a few hours each day. On the other hand, she had a firm grasp that landing an academic job is harder than winning the lottery jackpot. She says she is a New Yorker at heart who then cries, only once pitifully stands up for herself, and lets her husband and his future missus number three walk all over her. Come on! Grow a spine!

    This was probably pretty therapeutic for me, as I sat and reflected on how I would respond. Not like her, but that does not mean my response to the situation would have been better (probably more damaging to my children - b/c I could not imagine describing the home wrecker in any remotely positive terms). I probably would have packed him up the day he told me he was done and sent him packing, which is nowhere near her response. I was definitely able to empathize with how she slaved over her dream home, only to have it ripped out from under her.

    In the end, I found her surprisingly weak but authentic. Her husband and his new wife completely unsympathetic, especially him. He was a simpering, worm of a man in my view, complaining over overcooked crab, petty, over-emotional, and self-absorbed - not like the Adonis she describes. I could definitely see this book as helpful for someone who has found herself in a similar situation, and affirming for couples who are nowhere near divorce but far from "perfect" (as she describes her marriage). It is an easy read, digestible in a few hours....more info
  • Raw emotion...
    Loved the book but it was truley devastating to read. I don't think I have ever read a book with such raw emotion. She was describing my worst fear come true. I admire her for coming out of it all ok. I can't imagine how painful it must have been to relive it all to write this book. ...more info
  • Loved it!
    After hearing the glowing review on NPR and needing a quick read, I ordered the book from Amazon before its release. Reading this book it felt like I was privy to Isabel's wonderful but heartbreaking world...one that the lucky reader will not soon forget. I STILL think about this book and for me, that's a true sign of how much I enjoyed the story. ...more info
  • The Ultimate Yuppie
    This is a very well written account of the collapse of Gillies' marriage. Her prose is fine, and her recreation of dialogue, her powers of observation and her choice of what material to include are all terrific. You will learn not only about the marriage, but about life at Oberlin and something about acting.

    When I read about divorces in novels, I tend to get angry at the offending party, if there is one. While Josiah is a sh_t, I didn't get angry with him - Gillies is not trying to get her revenge, although I enjoyed the irony of her prose making life a bit uncomfortable for two English professors. The only characters I got mad at were Ward and Secca, who were so heartless. As complex as Josiah is supposed to be, he is a fully realized character even while Gillie never claims to get inside his head. Gillies herself has her issues, and if not for her commitment to the marriage contract, I would worry some about her second marriage. This is a woman whose first day at Oberlin was ruined when her husband did not know exactly where they would go out to eat dinner, but this is Gillies at her worst, and she had to be very ambivalent about the move away from her life in New York and career. She certainly is the ultimate "Yuppie", both the good and the bad.

    The only part of the account I suspect is untrue, is the epilogue. I doubt Gillies now likes Sylvia, but she needs to get along with her for the sake of her children. Incidentally, the names have been changed (not Gillies), but the real people are easy to find on the web.
    ...more info
  • The Care and Feeding of WASPs
    Gillies is proud to be a WASP. She mentions her WASPiness and that of her husband many, many times in this book, including the requisite references to geographical landmarks (ie summering in Maine) and various brand names of designers and private schools. She only bemoans her WASPiness once, when she decries the unfair prejudice she perceives against the chilly pale folk of the upper classes in hiring at institutions like Oberlin where, she whines with no apparent sense of embarrassment or inappropriateness, one ought to be an "Asian, black, lesbian Jewish woman from Tanzania" to have the hiring advantage. You're already getting a sense of our author's rustic charms, aren't you?

    All this WASPy buzzing is quite far from my own experience and point of view, so I decided to view this book as a kind of exotic excursion. Today, I told myself all David Attenborough-ish, we shall learn about the mating habits of WASPs. The book was rather a guilty pleasure for me, not unlike the Law and Order series on which Gillies is a bit player. Watch the trainwreck unfold in slow motion, trying to ignore the poor quality of writing and the nagging feeling that you are encouraging the more cynical souls of the entertainment industry!

    Gillies' writing was entertaining mostly in that it was fun to try to read her rambling, stream of conscious rants out loud. It was like that aunt everyone seems to have who knows someone who knows someone who did something and went somewhere VERY VERY important, and who will offload all this information into your skull at approximately 100 mb/second. More paragraph breaks and less random chapter breaks would have gone a long way towards making this book less excruciating to read.

    She is surprisingly, shockingly naive, especially when it comes to the "quaint" area of the country that perplexingly seems to exist outside Manhattan. She really didn't think that there's cable TV in Ohio? Or was that just a joke? I doubt it, there's very little humor, self-parody, or actual introspection in this book. What we have here is simply a blow-by-blow of two miserable, emotionally barren adults and the unravelling of their marriage at the expense of their very young children. Not to mention that this was already her husband's second marriage--hey Sylvia, wife number three, read the handwriting on the wall!

    When all was said and done, I came out with one big revelation...

    I'm glad I'm not a WASP.
    ...more info