Five Days by Douglas Kennedy

By Ekta R. Garg

May 1, 2013

Rated: Borrow it

When a woman gets the chance to escape her life for a few days, she jumps at the chance.  She leaves behind a husband who loves her but who has become disillusioned with their marriage since losing his job and children who have their own notions about how to deal with life’s challenges.  When she meets someone at the conference that provides her with her getaway, she doesn’t have any idea that a few casual encounters will alter her entire viewpoint on life.  Seasoned author Douglas Kennedy gives readers this premise in the novel Five Days.

Laura Warren has worked as a radiology technologist for several years in a small town in Maine and has begun feeling the deep effects of her job.  Her experience in reading MRI scans has taught her to distinguish between cancerous and non-cancerous scans, and she feels the weight of facing dozens of patients through the years who have asked her whether they will live or die.  On a more personal front, Laura’s husband, Dan, has spent the last 19 months out of work and his lack of employment has caused resentment and bitterness to creep into his heart.  With both children in college and trying to meet life’s challenges on their own terms, Laura alone bears the brunt of Dan’s inadequacy.

A radiology conference in Boston offers Laura the opportunity to get away from home for a weekend, and she packs her bag as fast as possible before anyone can talk her—or guilt her—out of the idea.  She reaches the hotel for the conference and meets an insurance salesman also in Boston on business.  In their first meeting Richard Copeland manages to annoy Laura and intrigue her at the same time.  Laura tries to shake off the conversation she has shared with Richard, but circumstances bring them back together and the second meeting goes more smoothly than the first.

Soon Laura realizes that she enjoys Richard’s company more than she should.  Richard reciprocates; their common love for words and the ease with which they can speak to one another leads them to the inevitable.  And suddenly Laura stands at a crucial juncture: should she return to her troubled life or pursue a brand new adventure?

Author Douglas Kennedy provides readers with shades of realism in this story about one woman’s discontent with her life.  In many ways Kennedy has captured perfectly the tediousness that can envelop a woman’s married life when things begin to go awry and one spouse stops making a concerted effort to sustain the relationship.  Laura’s feelings and situation, relayed in first person, will resonate with many readers.

On the other hand, Laura and Richard’s passion for words can wear on readers after a while.  The two bandy words and references to literature so often that readers may find their attention wavering.  Also Laura and Richard’s love affair, while passionate, might not always ring true to real life.  More than once they address one another as “my love,” a term of endearment a few decades past its prime.  And the climax may leave some readers feeling like they got cheated out of a full explanation.

Still, Kennedy highlights the city of Boston and some of its charming landmarks, and readers will certainly understand Laura’s ultimate decision to do what’s right for her.  This reviewer recommends this book for those looking for a love story firmly ensconced in our current economic times with the disclaimer to be prepared for a few long-winded conversations between the main characters.


What the ratings mean:

Bookmark it!–Read this book and then buy it and add it to to your own collection.  It’s definitely worth it!

Borrow it–Check this one out from the library; it’s a worthy read, but think twice before spending your hard-earned money on it.

Bypass it–Free time is precious.  Don’t spend it on this book!

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