A Sorry Affair is a romantic novel by Kirsten Nairn which examines the complexities of relationships and the heartache which can often accompany love. The story is told from the perspective of the three main characters, Mack and Jen, the archetypical golden couple, together since they were students and Abbi, who Mack finds himself drawn to, and eventually falling in love with. He ends up unintentionally in love with two women.
The idea for the story began as a simple question. What does it feel like to be the adulteress? To be the other woman? The sympathy, understandably, is always directed at the innocent party but what if there are two innocent parties? What if you are the ‘other woman’ and are completely unaware that you’re involved in an affair?
The story is considered initially from the view point of Abbi, the ‘other woman’ and focuses on how she feels. She meets Mack by chance and is immediately drawn to him. There is an innocence and naivety to her and the possibility that Mack is in a serious, long term relationship would never have occurred to her. Abbi would never consider having an affair with anyone, married or otherwise and because of this she feels utterly wronged. Everyone, including her own family and friends blame her and they can’t understand or believe that she had no idea that Mack has another girlfriend, another life. The most difficult thing for Abbi though is that she’s in love with Mack. She saw a future for them which has now been destroyed. She’s heartbroken and suffering the pain and loss of a failed relationship, but has no one to speak to, no one to support her.
Mack’s side of the story is perhaps more difficult to understand and to empathise with. He’s in love with Jen. She’s perfect. They’re engaged, they’re happy and it has never occurred to him that they wouldn’t be together for the rest of their lives, and yet for no reason he can fathom, he enters into an affair with Abbi. He realises, too late, that he has risked everything.
Mack’s immediate loss and helplessness are apparent, but ultimately the story examines the long term and wider reaching consequences of his actions. The impact on Abbi and Jen, on Jen’s family and his own family and the loss they all experience.
Later, as the story concludes with a twist, it becomes apparent how much hurt he has caused and the monumental mess he’s made of everyone’s lives. Not only has the future life they all imagined for themselves been changed forever, but he has a child, who may never be a part of his life unless he can prove he will never make the same mistake again.
My hope is that the reader will connect with all the characters and in doing so, be faced with the dilemma as to where their sympathies lie and to ask themselves what they would do in a similar situation.
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