Before I begin with my review of Monica Lee’s book The Percussionist’s Wife: A Memoir of Sex, Crime & Betrayal I would like to make a full disclosure statement. Monica sent me her book free of charge. While I did not purchase this book this will not affect my review in any way. In addition, this review will contain some spoilers.
The Percussionist’s Wife is, as the title suggests, a gripping tale of a woman (Monica) whose loyalty is keeping her in a destructive marriage. Her husband, Steve, “makes moves” on woman significantly younger than he is to combat his cripplingly low self-esteem. Monica makes a journey from also having a low self-esteem to caring deeply for herself. This is a true story of empowerment after being in what I view as an abusive relationship. Most powerfully, Monica realizes at the end of her journey that she is someone that deserves to be loved as deeply as she loves others.
As for my personal reaction to this book, I loved it. While it is probably not something I would choose for myself, I have absolutely no regrets about reading this book. In fact, Monica’s story has opened me up to reading more stories in this particular genre. Monica’s story takes place in central Minnesota and I am familiar with many of the places she talks about in her book. I have had friends who have attended both The University of Minnesota – Morris and St. Cloud State University (SCSU). SCSU has definitely earned it’s reputation as a party school and that reputation remains to this day. St. Paul is a phenomenal place filled with a wide variety of activities. Truly, it is a great place.
The other thing I found myself doing is trying to identify where I was in my life as Monica shares her story. It is amazing to me how many similarities there are in our attitudes, despite our difference in age. Monica shares with us that “in 2001, I wrote in a journal, ‘The Virgin Mary let God guide her. Rather than ‘these are my goals,’ her perspective was, ‘God, what should my goals be?” and she joyfully accepted them. I’m excited about my new year and my goals. Letting God guide me in my goals” (p. 88). In January 2001 I was 12 years old and had a similar perspective. When Monica was having her affair with Rick I was a senior in high school. Throughout that time I struggled with what love looked like outside of a family connection.
For me, the most empowering thing of all was Monica’s admission that it “took me 10 years to summon the courage to write and publish this book. Sharing my story is difficult, but I feel compelled to do so for people who are quietly suffering with secrets they believe are unspeakable, especially the spouses of adulterers and criminal offenders. You are not alone. And your life can get better” (p. 290). To me, this is the epitome of why we write. We want to share our stories, not only for ourselves, but to help others around us to work past their own demons and know that they are not alone.
Monica Lee is a personal historian, blogger and writer. A former reporter and newspaper copy editor, she also worked for years as a marketing executive with Creative Memories and Homemade Gourmet. A native of Minnesota, she blogs about her everyday life at http://minnesotatransplant.wordpress.com and writes about writing at http://mindfulmonica.wordpress.com. She lives in northern Illinois with her second husband.