After Happily Ever After: A Novel
“A soon-to-be empty nester learning to love herself one blunder at a time. After Happily Ever After is delightful….”
Maggie Dolin is forty-five and isn’t dealing with getting older very well. Seventeen years ago, she gave up her job in publishing to raise her daughter, Gia—but now her only child is about to leave for college, and Maggie isn’t sure what her new purpose will be. She’s been the caretaker and nurturer for so long that she can’t even remember the last time someone took care of her. She wishes Jim, her husband of nineteen years, would take that role on—but he’s been distracted and disconnected, and she’s convinced he’s hiding something from her. Her self-involved, judgmental mother and resentful brother, meanwhile, are certainly no help, and her father—the only person in her life who’s always been there for her and asked nothing in return—is dealing with increasingly serious health issues, leaving Maggie without her rock.
As all these stressors pile on, a chance meeting with a younger man causes Maggie to act in a way that is completely out of character for her. As she gets deeper in, she’s forced to make some big decisions about what she wants and deserves—decisions that could change her life forever.
After Happily Ever After deals with love, marriage, family, the empty nest, aging parents and what happens when they all come crashing down at the same time.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - fredreeca - LibraryThing
Maggie’s life is changing. She is not sure where she goes from here. She gave up her job in publishing years ago to take care of her daughter, Gia. Well, Gia is flying the coop. This leaves Maggie ... Read full review
“After Happily Ever After,” by Leslie A. Rasmussen, is an engaging, inspiring novel about finding yourself again in the face of an empty nest. This story centers on a woman in her mid-forties, Maggie Dolin, who doesn’t necessarily want to grow old gracefully. She’s always placed her daughter Gia first, actually traded in her career in publishing to bring her up, but what’s she going to do with the rest of her life when her daughter goes away to college? Maggie needs a new purpose. She needs to learn how to put herself first for a change. Her husband isn’t as involved as she needs, and he may be keeping secrets. She would turn to her mother, father, and brother, but they have issues of their own. So, this leaves Maggie floundering. Without support systems, she finds solace in a younger man, and this isn’t like her. As this new relationship develops, she finds herself at a crossroads, facing choices she thought she’d never have to make.
I really like the balance the author shows in this novel—the balance between entertainment and social issues. Because as much as I adore the plot, the underlying problems are so very real to most people in Maggie’s situation. Even though you will be entertained, with some laughter and tears, you will also gain insight into what it would and does feel like at the empty nest stage of life. I like the honest way the author has Maggie sorting this out–with stress, confusion, uncertainty, loneliness–all in an intimate first-person POV. She leaves no emotional stone unturned.
This is a book for all generations, in my opinion, not just middle age. We can all learn something from Maggie’s story, about how to cope with stress, emotional abandonment, heavy responsibility, and life-altering decisions. As a general reader looking for a well-executed story, and former social worker, I highly recommend “After Happily Ever After,” by Leslie A. Rasmussen.