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Reviewed by Bil Howard for Readers' Favorite
Following the termination of an emotional affair with a co-worker, Simone, Jonathan turns first to a bottle of Jack Daniels and then to the maternal security of his wife’s sister Joan in order to dull the pain of a loveless marriage to Claire and his longing for Simone. Simone is also in a loveless marriage to a man who abuses her and she turns to other means of “medicating” away her pain. Joan is a never-married, businesswoman whose life runs on a strict schedule, which is her way of avoiding being drawn too deep into a relationship. Claire has turned the abuse that she experienced in her first marriage around and directs her hurt toward Jonathan, who is too weak to resist her abuse. As the story continues, the psychological factors revolving around each of the players play their part. Each finds that they run the entire gamut of emotions and escapes, searching for an answer to their inner turmoil. The twists and turns will eventually lead to an answer. Whether desired or not, the consequences of their actions will come back around to each one unless they do something to stop the downward spiral.
In E.J. Eisman’s book Malaise, there is a picture of cause and effect clearly portrayed and brought into the light. As each character in the story searches through their own psychological reaction to the world and the relationships around them, they are continually given new opportunities to change and are continually experimenting with different ways to escape, while still doggedly holding onto the very things which are destroying them. This is an excellent look into the reality of relationships which are abusive on the one hand and submissive on the other. The reader will feel themselves moving through each aspect of the relationships and examining, judging, and perhaps even finding themselves wanting to give each a good talking to or a sound slap in the face. This is an excellent read for someone who enjoys exploring the human psyche.