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Jane Shapiro

Jane Shapiro is the author of After Moondog and The Dangerous Husband.


"As the story progresses, the narrator begins to fear her husband more and more, and fear isolates her further. While at times the plot edges into the implausible, Shapiro never lets it stay suspended there for long. Even when you can't believe her story, you trust her. By the book's end, I knew I would follow her anywhere."

– Emily White

"Veering skillfully between hilarity, suspense and surreal pathos, Shapiro's eagerly awaited second novel (after the highly praised Moondog, 1992) again demonstrates her witty take on the battle of the sexes."

– Publishers Weekly


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The Dangerous Husband

Love Is the Greatest Threat


The Dangerous Husband by Jane Shapiro is the predecessor of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a marital thriller that amuses itself with unexpected turns of phrase and wiles away the hours by punishing the reader’s loyalty.

“Help me,” he said in greeting. “I’m in a mess.”

“I’m not the one to save you!” I snapped, and we laughed like maniacs.

This conversation, the book’s meet cute, takes place in a surreal landscape that uncomfortably echoes our own, where love is the greatest threat to future happiness. An unnamed woman marries a hunky oaf named Dennis who turns out to be a terminal klutz, causing her to fear for her cat, him, her frog and her own life. The woman hires a hit man and vacillates on whether someone so prone to unhealthy mistakes with permanent consequences should be permitted to blunder about in the world.

A funny book about a serious subject that delights in its unreliable narrator and her oddly believable husband. Is the abuse accidental? Are you privy to the marital secrets on the pages or are they not secrets at all? How familiar is all of it and how does that correlate to its level of funniness? Is accidental abuse still abuse? Does original intent alter the crime? Is it no longer a crime, now relegated to a mere mistake, no matter how painful?

The best part of the book is Shapiro’s bland descriptions of the way disenchantment tends to creeps up on a person, even as complacency takes over and mildly boring routine becomes the new order. What was once disarming has decayed into the unforgivable, what was once irksome now intolerable, and what was once possible to overlook is now all that can be seen.

Despite its indulgently pretentious tone The Dangerous Husband is imminently readable. It is a darkly comic, self-aware, postfeminist portrayal of a marriage falling apart. And staying together. And getting hurt. And falling apart again. So we greet and snap and laugh like maniacs because what else is there to do?

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