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A Special Relationship: A Novel [Paperback]

Douglas Kennedy

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Book Description

Jan. 4 2011
About an hour after I met Tony Hobbs, he saved my life. Thirty-seven-year-old American journalist Sally Goodchild quite literally married her hero. Both foreign correspondents, both on assignment in Cairo, they quickly fell in love and settled into domestic life in London. From the outset, Sally’s relationship with both Tony and his hometown was an uneasy one—as she found both to be far more unfamiliar than imagined. But her adjustment problems are soon overshadowed by a troubled pregnancy. When she goes into premature labor, there are doubts whether her child will survive unscathed. And then, out of nowhere, Sally is hit by an appalling postpartum depression—a descent into a temporary, but very personal hell, which even sees her articulating a homicidal thought against her baby. However, when she does manage to extricate herself from this desperate state, she finds herself in a fresh new nightmare, as she discovers that the man she thought knew her better than anyone—loved her more than anyone—now considers her an unfit mother and wants to bar her from ever seeing her child again.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (Jan. 4 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439199132
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439199138
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #193,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“Readers who enjoy well-written mainstream works like those of Richard Yates, Richard Russo, Jodi Picoult, and Jane Smiley will be happy to add Kennedy to their list of favorites.” —Library Journal

From the Back Cover

Praise for The Pursuit of Happiness:
“Kennedy cannot help but write grippingly, and he weaves threads of love and betrayal into a thrillingly masterful ending.” -- Observer

“This is the novel against which the rest of the year’s output demands to be judged.” -- Express on Sunday --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Douglas Kennedy's Talent Shines in this Novel July 2 2007
By C. Middleton - Published on Amazon.com
This is an extraordinary novel. It is extraordinary because the author writes from the perspective of a woman. Writing in the first person as a woman, might not sound that unusual, however Kennedy expresses her most inner feeling and insanities as a woman experiencing Post Natal Depression. You might say that a `man' would not have the slightest clue about such things, but after reading the novel and giving it to family and friends (women) who have experienced post natal depression or even the less serious, post natal blues, after reading the text, have come back to me startled and amazed at how accurate and spot on the mark the author was in terms of his unusual depth of understanding.

A thirty something journalist, Sally Goodchild, meets a handsome Englishman in Cairo while on assignment. Tony Hobbs is a foreign correspondent for a major London newspaper and as one thing leads to another, Sally ends up pregnant and Tony offers to marry her though insists she must come back to England. This all sounds rather mundane, but as the narrative unfolds, we find that all is not as it seems in their relationship.

Sally experiences all the cultural differences as an American living in London. She experiences `cultural shock' to a minor degree, but while reading her observations and feelings, and having lived in different countries as well, could relate, however her husband Tony, strangely, never offered any support, leaving the poor (pregnant) woman to her own devices.

Sally finally has the baby and it is not a smooth delivery. She comes out of the experience a total wreck, emotionally and less so, physically. She finds the hospital staff without empathy and in some cases, sadistic. Sally has no support from family as she is all alone. Tony becomes a phantom, occasionally coming home and ignoring the baby. Sally attempts to describe her dilemma, her feelings, but her husband merely scoffs and arrogantly disapproves, giving her the impression that she's being a child and should "grow up!"

Needless to say, Sally comes close to ending it all, hitting rock bottom.

Douglas Kennedy is a master at taking a character to the heights to then drag them down further than the reader would think possible: The Big Picture and his first novel, The Job, are good examples.

We feel Sally's desperation, her insanities, her frustration as a new mother and her various reactions to her situation. Does this poor woman bounce back?

This is an excellent novel, the author doing his job, immersing us into the character, feeling her emotions and her desperation and finally, her choice to climb out of a terrible, hopeless situation...and she does it with flair and style.

A Special Relationship is entertaining and informative, revealing what good writing is all about...A firm 5 Stars.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting Page Turner July 21 2007
By Julia Flyte - Published on Amazon.com
Sally is a journalist for the Boston Post based in Cairo, when she meets Tony, an English foreign correspondent. Their relationship develops quickly and within months she is married, pregnant and living in the UK. But her pregnancy is anything but smooth and a complicated delivery is followed by an acute dose of post-natal depression. What happens next is even worse and she is forced on the defensive as both a wife and mother.

This is an unusual subject for a male author to tackle, especially written as it is in the first person. It takes a while for Kennedy to find his stride. Initially Sally failed to win my sympathy and I thought the description of her new days as a mother was less than convincing. But the book picks up momentum as it goes and before too long I was riveted - to the point where I would wake in the middle of the night and seriously consider getting out of bed to read more! Although the story is relatively simple, there are some nice little twists and Kennedy sets a good pace. I couldn't put the book down and finished it in two days.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I cannot stop reading this book. June 5 2007
By Emilie Morvan - Published on Amazon.com
I am a foreign personn and I was trying to find a book to read in English. I tried so many but I have never finished any. But this one is The Book. I love the story, I cannot stop reading. Last night at one am. I forced myself to leave the book and sleep. Don't hesitate, get it, you will love it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So engaging, Could not put it down March 1 2008
By Kel - Published on Amazon.com
This was one of the most engaging books I have ever read. It is also the first Douglas Kennedy books I have read. It won't be the last. This was a story about Sally, a journalist who goes to Somalia to report on a major flood. There she meets Tony, he is also a reporter. He is attractive and very charming. So, Sally and Tony hook up. Soon after, Sally finds out she is pregnant. So, Tony offers to marry her if she would move to London with him. For most of the book, I did not care for Sally's character at all. You can't help but feel some compassion for her because of her difficult pregnancy and post-natal depression. However, I thought she was totally irresponsible with Tony in the first place and she never really took control of her life until it was too late. It is amazing to me that Kennedy did such a great job writing in the voice of a woman. Especially a pregnant woman. This was one of those books that kept me up late so I could finish it. I highly recommend it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars slow start, good finish June 11 2011
By Monique - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought the book based on the good reviews. After about a fourth of the book I was quite bored with it and went online to see if it was worth continuing. It seemed so. After the long, long part about the depression ends, the book becomes a real page-turner with some great insights into English and America culture. Very hard to put down and a very satisfying read!

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