On Wednesday night, the cozy screening room at West Hollywood's Soho House was buzzing as crowds gathered to hear bestselling author and Huffington Post blogger Laura Dave read from her third book, "The First Husband." After friends, family, and fans had settled into plush red velvet chairs, Dave read a few pages. "I hate long readings," she said with a laugh. "I've chosen a passage that will last exactly 8 minutes because I think reading is boring." Her honesty makes the room smile. "There's so much candy too!" Laura points to the trolley in the corner, filled with old-fashioned treats. She ruffles through the pages of her book, and suddenly she has transformed the evening into a casual exchange instead of a monologue.
"The First Husband" is Dave's most recent novel. She tracks protagonist Annie Adams' choice between her first husband and her relationship with the one that got away (Nick, her ex-boyfriend). Yet, the objective of this novel is less about the men, and more about Annie's search for herself.
Marriage, divorce, and the challenges of relationships is not exactly new territory for Dave. Her other two novels have tackled these issues, as well. In what Publisher's Weekly called her "winning debut", Dave's first novel, "London is the Best City in America" the protagonist, an emotionally-stunted woman named Emmy, abandons her boyfriend and travels to her brother's wedding, where she is forced to take inventory of herself and what she wants in a relationship. Reese Witherspoon agreed: Her company, Type-A--along with Universal and Mandalay Entertainment--have begun adapting the book for the big screen.
Similarly, Dave's highly acclaimed sophomore novel, "The Divorce Party," which USA Today called, "endearingly quirky," is in development at Echo Films, Jennifer Aniston and Kristin Hahn's new production company.
During the reading, Dave explained that her novels tend to be prompted by questions. "London is the Best City in America," for example, was born out of the question: 'How do we choose a life for ourselves?' and 'How do we choose a mate?'
In "The Divorce Party," married couple Gwyn and Thomas Huntington invite their friends to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary, only to announce their plans to divorce. Maggie, their future daughter-in-law, then questions her future role in their son's marriage. The story of forgiving relationship mistakes and forging bonds is told through the realities of Maggie and Gwyn, two different generations dealing with similar challenges.
Dave's new book is about what happens after you've gotten married, left someone, or gotten dumped--when someone is transitioning into new or different life. Dave explained that she was nearly two hundred pages into a different book (set in Big Sur) and "The First Husband" was what she referred to as her "fun side project." But within one week of starting "The First Husband," she put down her other manuscript to devote herself to this story completely.
Her protagonist, Annie Adams, has followed love around the world, and when we meet her, she is about to be left by her boyfriend of over five years. Almost immediately after, Annie enters into her first marriage to Griffin, her rebound boyfriend of three months. The novel tackles Annie's misunderstandings of marriage and her own role in a relationship. Annie yearns for her ex-boyfriend (in Los Angeles), but is faced with a new reality (in Massachusetts) that she has lost herself in. Eventually, Annie is forced to make a choice between men. Annie's sympathetic "thought parade" as Dave says, gives the reader insight into how she is able to become proactive in her own happiness.
Dave got engaged recently to screenwriter and producer Josh Singer, known for his work on "The West Wing" and "Fringe." Did their relationship have any influence on this book? "We got engaged in December," says Dave. "The galley [copies] were already out! I’m working on this and I’m also working on a television show on the early years of marriage, so my poor Josh, if he wasn’t a writer…" she says with a laugh. She does make it clear that her personal life and creative life do remain separate, yet in some ways they overlap: "These are ideas that I’m thinking about: How do we commit? How do we make marriage work? How to we continue our growth together and apart?" Her fiance, Josh Singer was sitting front row during the reading. "He is such a great reader for me," she says. Then Dave returns back to her characters: "I feel like we're divorcing people we never married," she says. Dave references her grandmother's generation, "They never would have done that." She smiles as she explains that this book is about re-committing "to the commitment" of a relationship. Something I'm sure her grandmother would be proud of.
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