Title: Understanding the Affair
Author: Krymzen Hall
Release Date: Available Now
Reviewer: Maria Josey
Krymzen Hall’s Understanding the Affair is a raw, emotionally gritty novel about a woman named Arianna – entrepreneur, mother and wife. Her husband, Nate, is a federal DEA agent who flies back and forth from their home in Texas to Baltimore where he works on assignments. For ten years they had a sexy, mutual, loving relationship and two well-behaved sons that made their family strong and complete. But after their tenth anniversary, the death of Arianna’s mother stirs up an old secret that changes all of it, throwing Arianna into a deep, dark place. The story involves a close group of characters, who are friends and co-workers. The women of the group are Arianna’s best friends; the men in the story are a mix of both friends and enemies of Nate. While Nate and Arianna’s marriage is breaking down, something more sinister is plotted behind their backs. Various storylines occur amongst the characters, running side by side and often times intertwining with each other in a way that is both gripping and powerful. At the center of it all are Arianna and Nate, each struggling with their own demons, each seeming to want something that’s just out of their own grasp.
The novel grabs the reader right from the start, and the author does a phenomenal job of immediately jumping in to the thick of the story with just the right mix of background, narration, dialogue and forward motion. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would begin this book and not want to continue reading. The plot is undeniably compelling and edgy, with twists and suspense that evoke a strong sense of empathy and emotion toward the eclectic mix of suburban characters.
The tough part, though, is the intense drama that runs throughout the book. Despite its fast pacing, it is a lengthy novel and after the halfway mark, the constant drama borders on exhausting rather than exhilarating. The fights, the screaming, the accusations, the name-calling, the distrust, the infidelity begin to feel outside the realm of possibility. The dynamic between Arianna and her friends is a bizarre one, too – one can’t imagine any real women having best friends who will claw out each other’s eyes with brash, cold remarks one minute, and then say “I love you” in the next. Also, the racial tension, issues and jealousy between “black and white” are a little disconcerting. These characters are all white-collar professionals, yet they scream, fight and throw racial slurs while smashing cars in the high-brow subdivision driveway as if they were in the slums of Detroit, giving it a quasi-soap opera feel. The word “scream” appears more than 100 times in the novel – and it’s not a horror tale. After a while, the unrelenting drama and lack of respect and compassion for each other’s feelings makes it difficult to really build an attachment to either Nate or Arianna. Each time they came close to repairing the broken bonds between them, the hurled accusations and arguments begin all over again. Thankfully, though, the author has a true gift for writing, and the more positive scenes of love and forgiveness shine through. Ultimately, the book has a satisfying, endearing ending that makes the roller coaster ride to get there worthwhile.