THE HUSBANDS by Holly Gramazio

I love books with Sliding Doors/alternative endings formats, and boy did Holly Gramazio deliver with her new novel, The Husbands. Lauren lives outside London, and after a night of partying, wakes up to find her husband climbing down the attic stairs. The only catch – Lauren doesn’t have a husband. What follows for the next year and a half is a parade of husbands coming from and returning to the attic, some staying for a month or two, and some only for a few minutes, until Lauren deems them unacceptable and sends them back up. Yes, this is a crazy premise for a book, but in Gramazio’s hands it is an entertaining and surprisingly rewarding book about marriage, timing and how to be faithful to yourself.

Why I picked it up: I wanted to read this book as soon as I learned about it. It was my BOTM pick for April.

The husbands that appear from the attic come in all sizes, ethnicities and temperaments. Some are kind, some are irritating, one is extremely rich, and one is actually Lauren’s ex-boyfriend. Some appear more than once. One returns to the attic accidentally, but the others are returned by Lauren when she decides she needs to move on from them. Meanwhile, the revolving door of husbands has an impact beyond Lauren – with each new marriage, Lauren’s other relationships (with her sister, her best friend and her neighbors) are also transformed. So the new husband brings a new reality for Lauren, complicating her feelings about each man.

Like time travel books, The Husbands works best if you don’t think too hard about it. No, it doesn’t make any sense. But in the end, it’s a poignant story about a woman trying to figure out who is right for her and what to expect from a relationship. You could tell how controlling a husband was by the length of Lauren’s hair or the presence of a novel on the coffee table. And you could tell how Lauren felt about a husband by how much she thought back on him after he left. I especially enjoyed the pacing of The Husbands – sometimes many husbands appeared in the pace of a week, and sometimes Gramazio slowed things down, exploring and analyzing relationships in detail .

The Husbands might not be for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I loved how it ended.

I listened to The Husbands on audio. The narration by Miranda Raison was perfect. She handled a ton of accents and she never made the men sound like doofuses.

The Husbands was the 14th book of 2024.