My Father’s Wives by Mike Greenberg
Published January 20, 2015
When I saw that Mike Greenberg’s second book was available to review, I signed up immediately as I was mega-impressed with the sports talk-show host’s first book, All I Could Ask For. This second book of fiction, My Father’s Wives, is the story of Jonathan Sweetwater, a Wall Street executive, and his attempt to come to terms with his marriage and his relationship with his father. I read nothing about this new book before writing this review.
As the book begins, Jonathan seems like a guy who has it all. He is married to his soul mate, has two beautiful children, a boy and a girl, works on Wall Street, and lives in Westport. I soon found out that Jonathan was the only son of a liberal long-term senator who was immensely popular. Senator Percy Sweetwater was married six times and 41-year-old Jonathan had not seen his father since he was 9 years old. Jonathan never had any relationship with him once the senator had left his mother for wife number two. The senator had been dead awhile and Jonathan gave any monies he received from the estate to charity, as he had made his own way in the world.
When Jonathan arrived home from a business trip early to surprise his wife one day, he got a big shock and suffered an emotional trauma that lead him to question his marriage. In order to understand himself and his life better, he decided to visit the ex-wives of his father to learn more about the man he never knew.
I enjoyed Mr. Greenberg’s second book as much as I did the first, but the two books are vastly different. All I Could Ask For was written from a woman’s point of view, while My Father’s Wives is from Jonathan’s. Jonathan is likable guy, one I wanted to see reach some sort of inner peace after being traumatized. He works for a man named Bruce, an ultra-rich philanderer and party guy, who is married to a woman that looks the other way, probably to keep the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed. Jonathan has the luxury of being able to travel for work, so he fulfills his quest of meeting all the wives by taking detours from work on the road. He travels to Chicago, Aspen, Nevis, and London. His mother, as well as the last wife, live in New York City.
As I was reading the book, all I could think of was Ernest Hemingway and his four wives. Being a Hemingway fan, one can easily find parallels with anyone married three or four times, much less six. Percy Sweetwater was a charismatic, powerful man, but one that was afraid of aging and dying. He first traded in the early wives with someone younger each time. Later, he was with an international model and finally a psychiatrist. All the wives were vastly different from each other and none of them knew each other or ever contacted each other. They all loved Percy and all said he was the love of their life. Only one of the wives remarried. They all said he regretted losing his relationship with his son. So there were similarities between the senator and the writer, but nothing exactly the same.
I was surprised when about midway in the book Jonathan makes reference to Hemingway himself, but not on the number of marriages he had. Jonathan was a basketball fanatic and was thinking about his love of the game:
Hoops the Gym is a place where basketball legends are made. At any given time one might expect to find aspiring college players, current NBA players, even the Great Jordan, whose name is spoken in the reverential tones Hemingway used to speak of bullfighters.
Following is another passage from My Father’s Wives:
Elizabeth was still in girlish mode. “Your father was charming, brilliant, and powerful, which are wonderful qualities. But the real key to his appeal was none of those. Do you want to know what it was?”
I leaned closer. “Of course I do.”
“He was more vulnerable than any man I’ve ever encountered.” she said. “Women are accustomed to men who want us, but there is nothing quite as irresistible as a man who needs us.”
Claire’s face jumped into my mind. Did she need me? Or did I need her? “I’m not getting that part,” I said. “In what way did he need you?”
“Your father could never be alone. You know that term ‘serial monogamist’? That was Percy. He went from woman to woman, faithful to us until he was done with us, and then he was on to the next.”
So that is why this character reminds me of Hemingway. Perhaps Mr. Greenberg is a Hemingway aficionado as well. Regardless, I enjoyed this second book by one of the hosts of Mike and Mike in the Morning and I recommend it if you like a good story.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the advanced reader’s copy of the book. If you want to read the earlier and future posts about My Father’s Wives on the blog tour, click HERE.