In The Woman Next Door, New York Times bestselling novelist Barbara Delinsky delivers her most engaging novel to date, a story of trust, jealousy, and the struggle to keep love alive.
On a charming cul-de-sac in suburban Connecticut, three close-knit couples find their long-cherished harmony undone when a lovely, younger neighbor, widowed a year ago and presumably still unattached, becomes pregnant.
Who is the father? Could it be one of the husbands?
One by one, the couples turn inward, taking stock of their marriages and of the loyalties that perhaps have been taken too much for granted. In each case this close scrutiny reveals a weakness, and for each wife the situation becomes the kind of crisis that forces her to make a decision, one that will result in either the strengthening or the dissolution of her marriage.
Filled with suspense, surprises, and the kind of insights into the minds and hearts of her characters that have won Barbara Delinsky a huge and loyal following, The Woman Next Door is an ingenious portrait of suspicion and deception, faith and love.
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Simon & Schuster
June 30, 2001
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Excerpt from The Woman Next Door by Barbara Delinsky
Graham O'Leary shoveled dirt with a vengeance, pushing himself until his muscles ached, because he needed the exertion. He was filled with nervous energy that had no place to go. This was Tuesday. That made it D-day. Amanda would either get her period or miss it. He hoped desperately that she would miss it, and only in part from wanting a child. The other part had to do with their marriage. They were feeling the strain of failing to conceive. A wall was growing between them. They weren't close the way they used to be. He could feel that she was pulling away.
For Graham, it was deja vu.
Grunting at the unfairness of that, he heaved an overloaded spadeful of dirt from the hole, but when he lowered the shovel again and pushed in hard, he hit rock. Swearing angrily, he straightened. Sometimes it seemed that rock was all he found. Forget the historic bit about stone walls marking one man's land from the next. He would bet that those walls were built just to get the damn rocks out of the fields! Put 'em over near the other guy's land, he imagined the old-timers saying. Only they'd missed a few.
Annoyed, he bent, worked his shovel under the rock, levered it up, and hauled it out. Clear of that impediment, he tossed spadefuls of dirt after it, one after the other in a steady rhythm.
Oh, yeah, he knew what pulling away looked like. He had seen it in Megan, building slowly, mysteriously, reaching a point where he had no idea what she was thinking. With Amanda, he knew the cause of the problem, but that didn't make it easier to take. They used to be on the same wavelength on everything. Not anymore.
Grunting again as he dug deeper, he remembered the tiff they'd had the week before when he had tossed out the idea that she might be more relaxed, and therefore more apt to conceive, if she cut back on the hours she spent at school. She didn't have to be the head of a dozen different programs, he had said in what he thought was a gentle tone. Others could do their part. That would allow her to come home early one or two afternoons each week; she could read, cook, watch Oprah.
She had gone ballistic over that. He wasn't suggesting it again.
Gritting his teeth, he hauled out another rock. Okay, so he was working longer hours, too. But he wasn't the one whose body had to provide a hospitable environment for a child to take root. Not that he would even breathe that thought. She would take it as criticism. Lately, she misinterpreted lots of what he said.
She'd actually had the gall to accuse him of being absent for the second artificial insemination -- like the thing could have been done without his sperm. Okay, so he'd gone back to work after producing it. Hell, she had told him to leave. Of course, now she was claiming that what she'd said was that he didn't have to stay if he was uncomfortable.