I’m pretty sure I have a crush on Eileen Goudge.
First of all, The Replacement Wife is one of my favorite books that I’ve read this year. I still think about those characters (and I still don’t like Camille). I find myself debating what I would do if I were Camille and Edward and Angie and Elise. What would I do if this was my marriage? That’s the kind of writing I can’t get enough of.
So when I got my hands on Welcome to Carson Springs, I was so excited. Until I realized that it’s a little over 20 pages long and serves as an introduction to Goudge’s forthcoming Taste of Honey. It also references characters from Stranger in Paradise.
But even at 20-some pages, it’s still wonderful, and I still loved it, and now I can’t wait for Taste of Honey. I also see a purchase of Stranger in Paradise headed my way.
Welcome to Carson Springs tells us about Cora Delarosa, a “motherless daughter of a roustabout,” who is married to Jack, with whom she has three young daughters. Cora’s life sort of ambles along until she meets Hank Montgomery, the director of “Stranger in Paradise,” a movie being filmed in Carson Springs. Hank wants to use Cora’s general store as the backdrop for a scene, which Cora is all for but Hank turns down. Cora and Hank’s marriage has devolved into comfort and predictability; when Cora sees Hank’s razor on the bathroom sink, she “knew to put in her diaphragm.” So when Hank Montgomery and his film production roll into town, the comfort of Cora’s marriage is put under the glare of those movie set lights.
What Eileen Goudge does so well is show us the inner workings of a marriage. All relationships are complicated, and it’s impossible to understand a couple’s marriage unless you’re in it with them. Eileen Goudge takes us in those marriages. Neither partner is perfect, true, but Cora and Jack’s marriage suffers not from their flaws but from their inattention and neglect. Do we tell our spouses that we love them? Do we mean it when we say it?
If you’ve read Stranger in Paradise and want to know more about Cora and Jack, you need to read Welcome to Carson Springs. It will make you want to read more.