The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn

30841908The Arrangement: A Novel by Sarah Dunn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Publication Date: March 21st, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Point of View: 3rd Person
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Adult, Contemporary, Relationships

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Lucy and Owen, ambitious, thoroughly-therapized New Yorkers, have taken the plunge, trading in their crazy life in a cramped apartment for Beekman, a bucolic Hudson Valley exurb. They’ve got a two hundred year-old house, an autistic son obsessed with the Titanic, and 17 chickens, at last count. It’s the kind of paradise where stay-at-home moms team up to cook the school’s “hot lunch,” dads grill grass-fed burgers, and, as Lucy observes, “chopping kale has become a certain kind of American housewife’s version of chopping wood.”

When friends at a wine-soaked dinner party reveal they’ve made their marriage open, sensible Lucy balks. There’s a part of her, though-the part that worries she’s become too comfortable being invisible-that’s intrigued. Why not try a short marital experiment? Six months, clear ground rules, zero questions asked. When an affair with a man in the city begins to seem more enticing than the happily-ever-after she’s known for the past nine years, Lucy must decide what truly makes her happy-“real life,” or the “experiment?”


Even though the idea of an open marriage – so being able to sleep with other people – pounded the alarm in my mind, I was quite curious to know how it would affect Lucy and Owen’s relationship.

See, they’re a normal couple. There’s nothing unconventional about their relationship. Sure, it could be better, but it isn’t a bad one. It’s fine. Not great, but fine. They do, after all, love each other.

But since they’ve heard from their friends that ‘‘the Arrangement’’ truly works, they (but mostly Lucy) decide to give it a shot. Why not? It can’t hurt.

Right? Well, yeah, of course it can hurt. This whole story is like a social experiment. How does an open marriage affect the marriage itself? I had a bad feeling from the start, which only intensified as the story progressed. I’m sure you’ll have it also.

I liked how the author wanted to focus on other couples aside from Lucy and Owen. When you analyse those couples and compare them to Lucy and Owen, it does feel as if the latter were meant to be.

As you know, the opposite of love is disinterest. That’s what Lucy and Owen feel: a sort of disinterest about one another. But they do keep admitting they love each other, and still, they go along with the Arrangement. Is there a difference between ‘‘loving’’ and ‘‘being in love’’?

I was just fascinated the whole time. It made me sad to see so many couples having problems, because I do want to believe in true love as well as everlasting love, but that made it all the more realistic in a way.

The narration is pretty bad, since we feel, as we’re reading the book, too much of the third person; too much like somebody else is telling the story. I, for one, have trouble losing myself in a story that keeps reminding me that it’s only a story being told by someone. The third person is not the problem; the narration style is.

I dislike how this book is filled with cheating, and I’m not even talking about the Arrangement itself, which I wouldn’t consider cheating exactly.

THE ARRANGEMENT very much feels like a first novel, so I don’t believe it will revolutionize anything, but it’s a page-turner if, like me, you really do wonder if an open marriage can work or not.


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4 thoughts on “The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn

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