The Intermission by Elyssa Friedland is a book that intrigued me from reading the blurb. I don’t like romantic stories. However, I do enjoy books that are centred around relationships. I think they make for fascinating reads when you explore and see other dynamics couples share that are different to your own. The Intermission was one of those books that instantly after I shut it, knew I had to put all words and feelings about it, into a blog post rather than an Instagram caption.
Let’s kick off with the plot. Cass and Johnathan have been married for six years. The majority of their relationship has been happy, with them both feeling content with one another and their life together. When Cass becomes unemployed after a career working behind the scenes in Broadway – her dream job – and the idea of having a child on the agenda, she begins to question if her relationship is as solid as she thinks it is. Her own parent’s marriage ended in divorce, and she would hate to have a child experience the same thing. After sleepless nights and picking away at their relationship from their sex life (or lack of) to Johnathan’s method of loading the dishwasher, she abruptly tells him that she would like to take a six-month break from their marriage. Purely a separation to see if the grass is greener on the other side. Johnathan is taken aback. He thinks Cass has everything she could possibly want and that their relationship is absolutely fine. But, the break, or ‘intermission’ as Cass likes to call it, starts. Six months of not living together, no regular contact and meeting only to swap custody of their dog on a monthly basis.
The plot had me intrigued, especially as a bride to be. I know marriage isn’t rosy and in any relationship, there are bumps in the road, but I could never figure out the reason why Cass needed to take a step back from their relationship. I’ve had feelings of being lost in my career and life in general but, the security and love of my partner has always been the one thing I have cherished. So, to read of someone who seemed to have that dynamic too, I couldn’t comprehend her reasoning.
The chapters alternate between Cass and Johnathan’s points of view which I really liked. However, you are on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster – and not necessarily in a good way. I’ve mentioned before that I love books that can have characters that have me in laughter and then in tears but with this one, I found myself going from sympathetic, to angry, to just plain frustrated. As the book went on, I found myself disconnecting from Cass. After the intermission began, I could slightly see some logic in her decision, but the more I read, the more it felt it was a selfish move for her. She got the better end of the bargain.
I’m not saying that made Johnathan anymore tolerable, but it was interesting to read how a man would cope with such a predicament. There are certain behaviours and things he carries out that left me feeling sorry for him. It was clear in Cass’s action on how to search for what she felt; he suffered by making decisions that weren’t the wisest but strictly, not off the table.
The book is slow paced. I did find myself getting bored around the halfway point but was determined to finish the book. I’m glad I persevered because so much more came after that point that I found more entertaining. As much as the couple infuriated me at some points, it became clear that perhaps, they hadn’t really been that honest with one another about their pasts which took a turn I liked. I felt like we seen a new dimension to each character which I enjoyed.
The ending felt a little rushed. I felt for such a slow-paced book; everything just seemed to be over in a flash. I didn’t feel that satisfied by the ending but none the less, enjoyed seeing into the minds of a couple that decided to take a break. It was something I found bizarre, but I know of plenty unmarried couples who have ended up taking breaks in their relationship that have or haven’t lasted.
I ranked this 3.5 stars. The Intermission is an intriguing read if you like slow-paced, character-driven books. Although I couldn’t relate to their situation and despite a few chapters of feeling like shouting “get a grip”, I did enjoy it and look forward to reading anything Elyssa Friedland brings out in the future. The rating reflects the periods of being bored and frustration at times with Cass and Johnathan, but I would still recommend this.
I’d love to know if you’ve read this and what you thought. Do you have any other recommendations for novels about relationships without the soppiness? I’d love to hear them below, or you can always tweet or Instagram me. Thanks for reading as always.0