Mad Dash: A Novel Hardcover – Aug 7 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Gaffney's latest (after The Goodbye Summer) chronicles a 20-year marriage on the verge of imploding. Vivacious, impulsive professional photographer Dash Bateman is the opposite of her worrywart, straitlaced husband, Andrew, a history professor at Mason-Dixon College. After Dash's mother dies and the couple packs off their daughter for her freshman year at college, Dash's crisis of purpose culminates with Dash fleeing her house and husband for an extended stay in the couple's isolated cabin. As they attempt to live without one another, Andrew flirts with a feisty younger colleague and salivates over the chance to be chair of his department (if he can navigate the politics), and Dash finds a substitute mother, daughter and potential love interest. Gaffney tells the story from both Dash's and Andrew's points-of-view, allowing readers to see how the two frustrate and fall in love with one another. The writing is lively, though scenes involving conversations about the nature of love and relationships can turn tedious. The climax teeters on the edge of being over the top, but the denouement is just rosy. It's a lot of fun, and the faults are easily forgiven. (Aug.)
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Not only men have midlife crises. Meet Dash Bateman. She is a free-spirited photographer who recently lost her mother and sent her daughter off to college. After a trivial fight with her history-professor husband, Andrew, over a puppy, Dash takes the dog and leaves. Tired of Andrew's boring faculty parties, his hypochondria, and his obsessive list making, Dash feels trapped in a life she didn't plan. Out at their cabin, Dash explores the possibilities of reinventing herself and her life on her own. But it is the people around her who challenge Dash's desires and dreams. Mrs. Bender acts as a wise, surrogate mother. Dash's best friend, Mo, is recently divorced and is playing the field with gusto. Greta, her young assistant, reminds Dash of her earlier self; and Owen the handsome handyman just might make her forget all about Andrew. Popular women's fiction writer Gaffney doesn't fuss over plot, instead creating a funny, lighthearted, and tender look at what brings people together, what makes a marriage, and what it takes to keep it together. Kubisz, CarolynSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Dash Bateman finds herself in a quandary, an unhappy one. Married for two decades to Andrew she now finds him bothersome. In fact, almost everything he does bothers her. Isn't it ridiculous that he needs a glass of warm milk at bedtime or that he forces her to go to faculty parties that he obviously doesn't enjoy?
Their daughter has recently gone to college, and she lost her mother a short while ago. Now, it seems that's all that's left for her is Andrew and she doesn't believe that's near enough. Dash is convinced there must be more in life for her than what she has, but where is it or who is it? She leaves, retreats to their summer cabin.
It comes as no surprise that recently Andrew hasn't found much joy in their relationship either. He's a college professor who likes quiet, and order in his life. He certainly didn't want the abandoned puppy they found on their doorstep! He thinks with Dash gone he can concentrate on his work and enjoy a peaceful existence.....for a change.
Gaffney tells her story in alternate points of view as we learn more about both Dash and Andrew and, as it evolves, they learn more about themselves and each other. How strong are love's ties? What brought them together 20 years ago?
It would seem almost logical that in an almost two character story an audio version would have a male and a female voice. This is not the case, and actress Laural Merlington does a splendid job of reflecting both personalities, their hopes and their dreams. Many will remember her for vivid narrations of Acts of Malice, Back On Blossom Street, Beautiful Dreamer, etc. Merlington is an experienced performer who always delivers her best in a voice both supple and smooth.
- Gail Cooke
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Dash and Andrew have been married nearly 20 years. He's a stuffy history professor, she's a free-spirited photographer. Dash's mother died recently, and now their only child is going off to college. Then a puppy shows up on their doorstep. Dash wants to keep it; Andrew's allergic. Dash and the puppy move out, going to their cottage.
Andrew: She's leaving me? Over a puppy?
Dash: How can he not see that it's not about the puppy?
I'd venture to say that most long-married couples will recognize the spirit behind their confusion--Pat has human nature down so well that these characters feel utterly real.
Like many couples in their situation, they've taken each other for granted, focused on their careers, their children, their aging parents, and when that outside focus is taken away, they find themselves married to someone they don't know, and maybe don't even like all that much. And the women (though this could apply to men, too, but in this case, it's Dash) discover that after years of devoting themselves to other people--husband, parents, children--there's nothing left of themselves.
How Dash and Andrew cope with the separation and learn and grow and find themselves and each other again is a story full of warmth and humor and pain and love and realism. It's truly a wonderful book.
All the moreso because it brought me to an odd realization about myself, which was both uncomfortable and inspiring.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Told first through the voice of Dash, and then from her husband Andrew's point of view, this is a story about a marriage that unravels for a time. It is not one of the "big issues" of life that begins the derailing, but a small one. One evening, as Dash and Andrew return home, they find a dog on their doorstep. Is she alive? As they work together to call the vet and revitalize the puppy, the incident takes on a different tone. Dash, who is tired of loss and giving things up, wants to keep the puppy. After losing her mother six months earlier and then sending their daughter off to college, Dash is ready to embrace this new pet. Andrew, however, wishes to give the dog away.
Dash, who has a good career as a portrait photographer, walks out over the disagreement and goes to her photography studio. This act of leaving starts a chain reaction for the couple. Dash decides to move down to their cabin in Virginia. While sorting herself out, she spends time with Cottie and Shevlin Bender. Shevlin is the handyman who the Batemans have hired to help maintain the cabin. Cottie and Shevlin have been married for 40 years, and Cottie has just come through heart surgery. The two women talk about life, and Dash hears how love and marriage has worked for them.
Andrew's world is also full of challenges. An Associate Professor of History at Mason-Dixon College, he is offered an opportunity to move up in his career. Full professorship and consideration as the next department chair are his, if he will contribute a chapter to another professor's book. He has already disappointed his father by choosing to become a teacher instead of a lawyer. As Andrew faces his father's aging and ailing health, he learns about his dad's lost dreams. Will he take the necessary steps? Does he even want to do this?
Gaffney's portrayal of Dash and Andrew provides readers with the integral sounds, personal gestures and small words of a relationship. We are given an intimate view from both perspectives as they experience moments of annoyance, sadness and laughter. This story resonates for anyone who has been in a long-term relationship, through all the ups and downs.
The author's trademark humor is exemplary in MAD DASH. Her ability to write opposing points of view over the same relationship creates empathy for both characters and is brilliantly executed.
--- Reviewed by Jennifer McCord
I give props to the plot and the topic of the book - a husband and wife have marital strife after their only childs goes away to college. Gaffney did a decent job with Dash and her thoughts/actions/life. But Andrew was lacking. The chapters devoted to Andrew were devoid of substance and frankly, unappealing. I think she could have developed his character a lot more and gave him more depth. He was more like the stereotypical genius husband without social grace.
This book would make a decent beach read, but beyond that, look to Gaffney's earlier works for a great read. Saving Graces is still my favorite thus far.