If you enjoyed the best-selling “On the Island,” author Tracey Garvis Graves’ first published novel, you should like her latest, “Covet.” This new work, her first hard-bound, will publish Tuesday.
The novels share the theme of emotional intimacy but are decidedly separate works.
Don’t let the new book’s title fool you: There’s not a lot of actual coveting in the story. You’ll find longing and desire aplenty, however.
Graves introduces the reader to Chris and Claire, a married couple who live in an upscale Kansas City suburb with their two school-age children and an assortment of interesting neighbors with their own problems. All is well in Chris and Claire’s marriage and lives until Chris loses his well-paying job to down-sizing.
During the year it takes him to find other work, the couple drift apart emotionally, sleep separately, stop talking about anything meaningful and, in general, become roommates, not partners in a marriage. Chris’ deepening depression requires medication.
The new job eases the financial woes, boosts Chris’ confidence and lessens his depression. The flip side is that the job keeps him away from home during the week. And when he is home, he’s working behind a closed door in his home office.
Neither he nor Claire can find a way to connect the way they once did. In a misguided attempt to shield the other, each fails to share feelings. Yet this very behavior exacerbates the communication gap.
While Chris is traveling for his job, Claire develops a friendship with a local police officer.
Graves writes dialogue the way people really talk and seems to have mastered writing sexual frisson scenes.
Through Chris and Claire, Graves explores deeper philosophical questions: Is emotional intimacy more or less damaging than sexual intimacy? What can and can’t be forgiven in a marriage? Can men and women be close friends when one or both are married to others?