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The Book I Wanted to Read, But Couldn’t Find

Marcie Maxfield Author Interview

Em’s Awful Good Fortune follows a “tagalong wife” ex-pat who travels the world with her husband and is on a journey of self-discovery to find her own voice in the world. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Em’s Awful Good Fortune is the book I wanted to read, but couldn’t find, when I was living overseas. Most expat books are travelogues that focus on cultural exchange, language mishaps and strange food. I’m more interested in women’s issues. Having been a “tagalong wife,” I was able to use the international lifestyle as a backdrop for a different kind of story—what happens in a modern marriage when dual careers collide? I’m particularly interested in the imbalance that still exists between men and women, where women tend to do more than their share of multi-tasking and compromise.

Was there anything from your own life that you put into the characters in your novel?

Em’s story is grounded in lived experience, which is why the book has such an authentic, raw feel to it. That said, the characters are composites and extremes through which I explored Em’s basic dilemma: how can she make her marriage work if her own life doesn’t work.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Having lived in China during a catastrophic air pollution event, I initially set out to write about the real cost of rapid growth and industrialization on personal health and safety. But then, Em had a lot to say about marriage and compromise. And when I peeled back the layers to Em’s character, the issue of PTSD kept coming up. ParisTokyoShanghaiDetroit. The lasting impact that sexual assault has on a woman’s ability to live her fullest life without fear.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m working on a narrative non-fiction called Jew Girl. It’s about half done and I’ve got a 2024 pub date, so I need to finish it!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Set against the backdrop of the expat lifestyle, Em’s Awful Good Fortune is about marriage—love and family, work and compromise, betrayal and heartbreak, resentment and resolution. Weaving back and forth in time and between cities and countries, Em’s booming voice—fierce, funny, and relatable—is the engine that drives this story. Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Detroit, Los Angeles and Seoul—Em stomps her way around the world on the personal journey to reimagine and reclaim her voice. True to life, this is a disorderly journey—one that ultimately leads to a new understanding of partnership and the complexity of relationships.

Em’s Awful Good Fortune

Em’s Awful Good Fortune by Marcie Maxfield is a fantastic novel that masterfully displays all that goes inside the mind of a woman when her life is uprooted by her partner’s ambitions. Em has desires of her own: a good family and a career; but just when she thinks she might have things figured out, she realizes that life does not always go as you plan. For Em, getting married and having children was just another thing to check off a list to achieve the perfect, balanced life. However, she soon discovers that sharing a life with another person is not always smooth sailing. Pretty soon she agrees to give up her life and her ambitions so her husband can pursue his own. Em, tagging along with her husband, loses herself as she travels across big cities in various countries, resentment and anger growing, wondering if she’ll ever get to be happy again.

This novel’s greatness is based on one main thing, and that’s how realistic the story is. It is told from the perspective of the main character, Em, and you can’t help but immediately feel attached to her. You understand what she’s going through and how trapped she feels. Every feeling, every new thought she has is displayed in such a way that makes her feel very real as a character. She goes through many things and emotions, and every time I felt as if I was in her shoes, just based on the style of the narration.

Em’s life could appear from the outside as a luxurious adventure. Because of her husband’s job she gets to visit many cities, Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, Seoul… But it all comes with one price: she has to give up her life, her needs and desires. Understandably she starts to feel miserable, not knowing how to escape this awful fortune that’s befallen her.

This is a very detailed story of the life of a “tagalong wife”, and portrays excellently what so many women have gone through and still go through in their lives as mothers and wives: how many times they’ll have to give up their own unique traits and ambitions as a sort of “sacrifice” for the rest of the family. This book is not necessarily a feminist one, but it surely does open a discussion about how “violated” the life of a woman can become the moment that she loses herself to satisfy others around her at all costs.

Em’s Awful Good Fortune by Marcie Maxfield is a raw and realistic story that deals with complex topics such as family, relationships and finding one’s purpose in life. With an engaging narrative and immersive storyline it was hard to put the book down. By the end, despite the difficulties and the bad feelings that Em goes through, there’s one thing she’ll surely teach you: to stand up for yourself.

Pages: 241 | ASIN: B08QZ58FDC

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