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Reviewed by Trevor Otieno for Readers' Favorite
Charting a Marriage is a must-read for couples and any other reader with the urge for something refreshing. The central figures of Joanna Kadish’s book, Shelli and Stefan Matson, are a smart, attractive, and educated Jewish couple who reside in suburban New Jersey. After starting a family and being together for more than ten years Stefan suggests to Shelli that they think about swinging with other couples to strengthen their marriage. Shelli gives in to her husband’s demands despite her reservations and finds pleasure with a worldly, sexually giving Dutchman who seems to be all her husband wants to be. The book explores the issue of whether Stefan and Shelli’s marriage will endure their exploratory trip.
The focus of Charting a Marriage is primarily on Shelli, and the portrayal of her complex, inner emotional life may be the book’s strongest point. She exhibits a wide range of emotions, including insecurity, fervor, anger, compassion, and tenderness, as well as being prone to endearing but perhaps illogical classical parallels. Although Stefan’s viewpoint is unclear and Shelli’s observations regarding his casual cruelties make it difficult to empathize with him, his suffering in this story has more pathos. To strengthen their connection, Stefan wanted to utilize swinging by enlisting Shelli’s assistance while he sought the sexual expression that had frequently escaped him. Stefan’s ambitions were thwarted by his chauvinism and insecurity, in stark contrast to the worldly, at-ease Wilhelm. For firsthand knowledge, pick up a copy of the book.