Perhaps my reaction to Mike Greenberg's latest novel, My Father's Wives, says more about me than it does about the book. Maybe I shouldn't have read it immediately after Michael A. Kahn's The Sirena Quest. Together, they made me think men spend too much time dwelling on their past.
Jonathan Sweetwater thought he had the perfect life, a job he liked, travel, a wonderful wife, and two children he adored. And, then one day he came home early from work, and, suddenly he thought his life was built on a lie. And, that's the most important thing he and his wife, Claire, had agreed on. She said, "If you promise always to lie with me and never to lie to me, I'll do the same." But, Jonathan couldn't face asking the tough question. Instead, he decided to search for the answer to a question he never really knew. Who was the father who left him when he was nine years old?
Oh, Jonathan knew his father was "Percival Sweetwater III. Five-time United States senator, liberal lion, legendary lothario and bon vivant, author of nineteen books, sponsor of eleven legislative bills, trusted advisor to three presidents, husband to six women, and father to one boy." And, Jonathan's mother, Alice, was Percy's first wife. But, why did Percy leave on Jonathan's ninth birthday? To find the answer, Jonathan went looking for the five other women his father married.
Even now, it seems that Jonathan's decision to search for his father's story seemed ill-timed. It doesn't really fit with the problem that he himself was facing. In fact, I saw the search as a way to escape from making any decisions right then. Maybe he was trying to learn how his father made the decision to move on with life since his father said people are "the sum total of all the decisions we make". And, Jonathan had a major one to make.
My Father's Wives had a satisfying ending, although, as I said, the two storylines didn't always seem to fit together. And, Greenberg worked hard to make every one of Percy's wives different, while also making them seem perfect. It doesn't seem as if Jonathan would like every one of the former wives.
Mike Greenberg's My Father's Wives provided a few hours of entertainment. For many men, it will offer one of their fantasies, a scene with Michael Jordan. My favorite part of the book was a comment that was a throwaway line. "Don't be so afraid to die that you forget how to live."
The official author Twitter site for Mike Greenberg is @Espngreeny
My Father's Wives by Mike Greenberg. William Morrow. 2015. ISBN 9780062325860 (hardcover), 240p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.