Welcome to my part of the Apart at the Seams book tour! I’ve never done this before so I hope I remember all the steps.
I loved reading this “sideways sequel”; in Measure of Love, there are multiple moments when it’s hard-to-impossible to know what Arianna is thinking or why she’s doing what she does – the reader is as mystified as Rachel is. So seeing the same series of events through Arianna’s eyes is hugely revealing. I also think I’m more like Arianna than like Rachel in personality, so in some ways I enjoyed this book the most of the trilogy. I adore the cover – the fact that it matches details in the book itself is really nice, and the yellow boots just pop wonderfully.
Throughout the story, Arianna slowly develops a non-romantic relationship with a man named Noah. Although the two are attracted to each other, they maintain the status as friends due to Arianna already being in a relationship with Ethan. Arianna, along with myself as the reader, compares Noah to her boyfriend Ethan and it’s obvious that Noah and Arianna have much more in common. They both share the same views about marriage as well as the importance on advancing their own careers. Is it possible to nurture and maintain a platonic relationship between a man and a woman despite the attraction the two share?
Yes. I believe it is. Here’s why: while I don’t think we can or even should control how we feel about things, we have more control over how we think about things, and the most control over the actions we choose to take. An attraction is a feeling – it’s there whether you like it or not. But how you choose to act on it is up to you. I don’t know if Arianna crossed the line or not… Obviously Rachel thinks so, but does Ethan?
I do feel that the word “nurture” in there does make it tricky… how do you nurture a platonic relationship differently from a romantic one? And how do you know when you’ve crossed the line? And is actively nurturing a platonic relationship with someone you are attracted to, while in a committed relationship with someone else, simply a dangerous (to your relationship) thing to do?
I’ve been in this situation myself, so found this question very compelling to think about – and read about in the novel as well.
Marriage is one of the main themes in the story. Do you think it is possible for a couple to share a long-term domestic relationship without actually being officially married? Why is our society so keen on the expectation of marriage in a romantic relationship despite the high divorce rates?
I think that humans in general have a hard time dealing with ambiguity. We want things to be crystal-clear and easy to mentally categorize. “Married” is a very clear category, legally, financially, and socially. The connection is unambiguous. In other cultural contexts, living together and especially raising children together is socially recognized as marriage, sometimes even legally (in Bolivia, after only three years a domestic partnership secures all the same legal protections as marriage).
There’s probably a commercial aspect to it as well that reinforces the social expectations – big weddings mean big bucks to some people.
About 7% of the way through the book, Arianna describes her reasons for choosing the safe career option rather than the fulfilling one, referencing her priorities in life and how they’ve changed and evolved. She says, “I’ve been working to support myself, but not really working to fulfill myself.” How have your priorities changed and evolved throughout your life so far? How do you see them changing and evolving over the next ten years? Can you tell us about the trade-offs you’ve made and are prepared to make?
When I was growing up, I never saw myself as having “a career,” or doing just one thing for the rest of my life. I’m not sure why. I always wanted to be a writer and/or a teacher, but then in college I became interested in community development work and that dramatically shifted my life direction. Looking back, I see that I have always swung between an academic life and social service kinds of work. For me the biggest trade-offs, though, have been because of my marriage. Because of the ways in which we’ve negotiated our different goals and interests, we’ve ended moving between continents twice during my dissertation-writing which I think cost me about a year towards finishing each time. I’m not where I imagined I’d be when I started this doctoral program… which is ok. I actually love my job, love having lived in all these places with my husband and our children. I still sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t married him, where I’d be, what I’d be doing.
In the book, I loved the glimpse into Arianna’s professional life and the world of high fashion. It was so fascinating, and something I’d never really thought about before – who does all the hand-sewing for haute couture gowns? I guess I imagined it was all sweatshopped out overseas. As an industry I know nothing about, I loved learning about that in this book.
To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at LavenderLuz.com.