Evidence of the Affair: A Short Story, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Nine stars

I stumbled upon this piece by Taylor Jenkins Reid completely by accident—thank you Goodreads and the daily digest—as I noticed a number of my fellow readers were offering their praise. A fan of short stories and having come off a horrid few days of bad reading, I thought I would take a look, and am pleased I did. In a story that took under an hour to read, I was pulled into a collection of letters between Carrie Allsop and David Mayer. Carrie and David appear to be the unwilling victims of an affair their spouses are having, which has been discovered in a series of written letters. This being the 1970s, these letters are the primary evidence of the affair, though there are some hushed phone calls at times as well. The reader is pulled into the communication Carrie and David have about the actions of of their spouses and the friendship that develops between them, as though they create their own spurned spouses club. There are also occasions when text of the ‘love letters’ are revealed to the reader, which only goes to fuel the narrative and provides some of the fodder to see how the amorous encounters are progressing over time. What started as an ‘FYI’ letter soon has David and Carrie agreeing to meet in person to discuss matters and share a meal as friends, but there is more to talk about that whispered telephone calls and mysteries found stuck in recipe books. Reid does a masterful job in this piece, comprised entirely of letters, conveying just how powerful the written word can be. Recommended for those who need a quick read over coffee, particularly those who have access to Amazon’s thorough digital library.

I choose not to spend a great deal of time writing about the structure of the story or the characters, as I tend to do with most of my reviews. Doing so will, unfortunately, tip my hand too much and spill too much of what Reid seeks to have the reader discover. What I can say is that Reid allows the reader to see just how troubling things can be in marital strain, even through the seemingly innocent collection of letters. In an era of digital communication, trysts take on a new level of secrecy—though I would say the text message is just as problematic as a written letter—while still stinging both the offender and victim in different ways. Small holes in a relationship can soon be massive craters and those who seek consolation in being the harmed party can be known to shed their victimhood unknowingly. Let Reid take you on this adventure, though worry not about being pulled into a massive undertaking. As I said, a quick coffee break read!

Kudos, Madam Reid, for a sensational piece that will surely have many flocking to Amazon to find it.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons