If there’s one thing The Good Guy reaffirms, it’s that affairs are always bad news. Susan Beale’s novel shows the effects an affair has on the lives of a young couple in suburban America.
Ted is a bustling and dynamic salesman who is best described as idealistic. He craves the finer things in life and he believes that anything that shines will bring him instant happiness. Like most idealistic types, the chase for happiness will never end, and people like Ted will continue to crave more even when it’s harming the people around them. Ted engages in an affair with Penny, who is naive to the fact that he is married.
Abigail is by far one of the best elements of The Good Guy. She is beyond her time and doesn’t settle for the gender role of women during the time period. Life as a homemaker and wife doesn’t satisfy her, and she desires to pursue her education further, which baffles the women around her. Though this isn’t addressed directly, she shows signs of postnatal depression and at times feels like she is failing as a mother to her daughter Mindy. Throughout the novel, it’s hard to not feel empathy for her character. The world around her is trying to squeeze her into a gender role that is unnatural to her and she struggles with her identity and sense of belonging. It doesn’t help that whilst she’s trying her absolute best to satisfy her responsibilities as a mother, her husband is living a fantasy life with another woman.
Though it’s easy to become mad with Ted, I thought the construction of his character was enthralling. As the book progressed, I enjoyed seeing his character turn into a trainwreck. Things truly spiral out of control and it kept me wondering how he was going to come back from it. He lives in his own head and can never find a way to blame himself whenever it goes wrong. Because he never takes responsibility for his wrongdoings, he’s rarely distraught. In his head, anything is possible and he’s able to bring every fantasy he has to live. His character is also very selfish, whether it’s buying a sports car without real job security or the colour television, or refusing to gift his wife a typewriter since he thought it was an unattractive present (even if it’s what she truly wanted). Spending frivolously, eating at exotic restaurants, dancing, and having an affair with Penny provides him with the perfect opportunity live a fictitious second life.
The Good Guy is a tragic story about the dangers of idealistic pursuits within a suburban setting. Through carefully constructed characters, Susan Beale was able to show the detrimental aftermath of an affair and the harm it causes to all those involved.
Release date: June 16th 2016 by John Murray
(I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)