21 January 2013

Shooting the messenger

The Expats by Chris Pavone

This post was inspired by mystery thriller novel The Expats by Chris Pavone. Kate Moore sheds happily sheds her old life become a stay at home mom when her husband takes a job in Europe. As she attempts to reinvent herself, she ends up chasing her evasive husband's secrets. Join From Left to Write on January 22 as we discuss The Expats As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

There are a lot of secrets in this novel.  And I don't want to ruin them for you, if you decide to pick it up.  But I want to talk about a part that really stuck with me and made me think about a related question for some time after I finished the book. 
 In a lot of ways, I related to Kate, the main character.  Not so much that I was leading some sort of secret double life, but that when I put that job aside, the job that I loved and the job that served as my identity in my twenties, it was really hard for me to say goodbye. That job was not compatible with a stable home and family life, and when I gave birth to my first child, I realized that a stable home was more important than the job.  

It was still really hard to give it up, and I, like Kate, often look back and wonder, could I have somehow made this work?  I've looked at my house, cluttered with toys and books and teenytiny Lego pieces tangled in the weave of the carpet, the kitchen with bread crust on the floor and peanut butter smeared on the front of the fridge, and thought, is this it?  Is this what I quit working for?  

In other ways, though, I couldn't understand Kate at all.  I didn't understand why she was so reserved when she moved to Luxembourg; didn't she want to make friends?  Didn't she want to carve out a new life with her people, her compadres?  Even when she did make friends, she wasn't completely open.  

But then, neither were all of her friends. 

Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that, in this book, not many people are who they say they are.  And Kate finds this out in a most uncomfortable way, while she is hiding behind her own secrets.  She stumbles across a spouse, doing something they shouldn't be doing, with someone they shouldn't be doing it with.  And the plot thickens. 

The question I keep coming back to is this: if you, by pure accident, discover that someone you know is keeping a secret, one that could potentially hurt someone else you know, are you supposed to tell it or keep it?  This comes up all the time in women's magazines, usually in relation to a cheating spouse.  But, really, it can cover a wide range of situations, and secrets besides affairs.  And the advice columnist in the women's magazines always, always says to stay out of it.  You're the messenger, therefore you're the bad guy and you'll be the one who takes the blame for whatever fallout there is. 

And not having any experience in this, I can't say for sure that that isn't true.  But it sits wrong with me; I don't think the messenger should be the one to get shot.   No one likes to deliver bad news or tell people something that will likely hurt them or upset them.  

Maybe I just have that tendency to root for the underdog, but I always end up feeling bad for the messenger. 


Alicia said...

I agree, the messenger isn't the one that should be shot, but usually is. Something that always bugged me is when a man has an affair and the wife or the girlfriend find out. Almost always the wife/gf will get angry at the other woman and not at the man. Whats weird is the man is the one that had made a committment to her, not the other woman/gf, so why get mad at them? That's just the nature of the beast I think.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

My former comment showed twice so I thought I deleted one, and now neither are there. ...

The messenger tends to get the brunt of it because nobody wants to hear bad news like that--and they won't believe it until they've discovered it for themselves, or they're ready to. It's a shame, but there's just no good way to broach the subject. Dammed if you, damned if you don't.

Eva from Socamom.com said...

No one ever like to be the one to bring the bad news - most for fear of getting shot! Like the friend who tells the other friend that her boyfriend is cheating... and then the friend gets the bullet - not the boyfriend. I think it is because, in that instance, that you (the person bringing the news) is the one who confirms what the person already knew, OR said the words that have the potential to change their life. Gotta know who to tell I guess... :)